Kirby Corporation (NYSE: KEX) and Martin Midstream Partners L.P. (NASDAQ:MMLP) are both transportation companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, risk, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, profitabiliy, valuation and earnings.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current recommendations for Kirby Corporation and Martin Midstream Partners L.P., as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Kirby Corporation 0 6 3 0 2.33
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. 0 3 1 0 2.25

Kirby Corporation currently has a consensus target price of $70.71, indicating a potential upside of 16.12%. Martin Midstream Partners L.P. has a consensus target price of $22.00, indicating a potential upside of 17.96%. Given Martin Midstream Partners L.P.’s higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe Martin Midstream Partners L.P. is more favorable than Kirby Corporation.

Dividends

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. pays an annual dividend of $2.00 per share and has a dividend yield of 10.7%. Kirby Corporation does not pay a dividend. Martin Midstream Partners L.P. pays out 235.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

33.9% of Martin Midstream Partners L.P. shares are held by institutional investors. 2.7% of Kirby Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 17.0% of Martin Midstream Partners L.P. shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Kirby Corporation and Martin Midstream Partners L.P.’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Kirby Corporation $1.84 billion 1.79 $410.57 million $2.18 27.94
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. $858.69 million N/A $158.41 million $0.85 21.94

Kirby Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Martin Midstream Partners L.P.. Martin Midstream Partners L.P. is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Kirby Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility & Risk

Kirby Corporation has a beta of 1.01, indicating that its stock price is 1% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Martin Midstream Partners L.P. has a beta of 1.5, indicating that its stock price is 50% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares Kirby Corporation and Martin Midstream Partners L.P.’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Kirby Corporation 6.41% 4.88% 2.76%
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. 0.51% 1.16% 0.33%

Summary

Kirby Corporation beats Martin Midstream Partners L.P. on 10 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

Kirby Corporation Company Profile

Kirby Corporation is a domestic tank barge operator, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, coastwise along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii. The Company, through its subsidiaries, operates in two segments: Marine Transportation and Diesel Engine Services. The Company, through its Marine Transportation segment, is a provider of marine transportation services, operating tank barges and towing vessels transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, coastwise along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii. Its engine services segment, sells replacement parts, provides service mechanics to overhaul and repair medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines, transmissions, reduction gears, pumps and compression products, maintains facilities to rebuild component parts or entire medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines.

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. Company Profile

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. is a limited partnership with a set of operations focused in the United States Gulf Coast region. The Company’s four business lines include terminalling and storage services for petroleum products and by-products, including the refining of naphthenic crude oil and the blending and packaging of finished lubricants; natural gas services, including liquids transportation and distribution services, and natural gas storage; sulfur and sulfur-based products processing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution, and marine transportation services for petroleum products and by-products. The petroleum products and by-products it collects, transports, stores and markets are produced by oil and gas companies. As of December 31, 2016, it operated 26 marine shore-based terminal facilities and 14 specialty terminal facilities located in the United States Gulf Coast region. Its customers include oil and gas companies, chemical companies and fertilizer manufacturers.

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