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Is Waddell & Reed Financial (WDR) a Top Pick for Value Investors?

Zacks

Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. WDR stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.


On this front, Waddell & Reed Financial has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 8.00, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 19.96. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Waddell & Reed Financial’s current PE level puts it below its midpoint over the past five years. Moreover, the current level is significantly below the highs for this stock, suggesting that the stock is undervalued compared to its historical levels.

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks classified Finance sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 16.72. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that Waddell & Reed Financial has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 11.64, so it is fair to expect an increase in the company’s share price in the near future.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Waddell & Reed Financial has a P/S ratio of about 1.22. This is fairly lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.27 right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

If anything, WDR is near the lower end of its range in the time period from a P/S metric, suggesting some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Waddell & Reed Financial currently has a Zacks Value Style Score of ‘B’, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Waddell & Reed Financial a solid choice for value investors.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Waddell & Reed Financial might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth grade of ‘D’ and a Momentum score of ‘F’. This gives WDR a Zacks VGM score—or its overarching fundamental grade—of ‘D’. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been mostly bearish. The current quarter has seen three estimates go lower in the past sixty days compared to none higher, while the full year estimate has seen four down and one up in the same time period.

This has had a noticeable impact on the consensus estimate though as the current quarter consensus estimate has dropped by 7.1% in the past two months, while the full year estimate has also decreased by 7.1%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Price and Consensus

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Price and Consensus | Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Quote

This negative trend is why the stock has just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) despite strong value metrics and why we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term

Bottom Line

Waddell & Reed Financial is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Moreover, a strong industry rank (Top 38% out of more than 250 industries) further supports the growth potential of the stock. Some broader factors are also turning favorable for the industry.

However, with a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. In fact, over the past two years, the Zacks categorized Finance – Investment Management industry has underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:

So, value investors might want to wait for estimates and analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick. Moreover, broader factors at the industry level support the growth potential of the company as well.

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