Actuant (NYSE: ATU) and Proto Labs (NYSE:PRLB) are both industrial products companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, dividends, risk, institutional ownership, profitability, valuation and earnings.

Dividends

Actuant pays an annual dividend of $0.04 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.2%. Proto Labs does not pay a dividend. Actuant pays out -3.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Actuant and Proto Labs’ gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Actuant $1.10 billion 1.41 -$66.21 million ($1.12) -23.13
Proto Labs $298.05 million 8.53 $42.70 million $1.76 54.20

Proto Labs has lower revenue, but higher earnings than Actuant. Actuant is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Proto Labs, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility and Risk

Actuant has a beta of 1.64, indicating that its share price is 64% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Proto Labs has a beta of 1.03, indicating that its share price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current recommendations and price targets for Actuant and Proto Labs, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Actuant 1 7 4 0 2.25
Proto Labs 0 3 0 0 2.00

Actuant currently has a consensus price target of $25.00, indicating a potential downside of 3.47%. Proto Labs has a consensus price target of $68.00, indicating a potential downside of 28.72%. Given Actuant’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts clearly believe Actuant is more favorable than Proto Labs.

Profitability

This table compares Actuant and Proto Labs’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Actuant -6.04% 9.43% 3.39%
Proto Labs 14.53% 11.63% 10.54%

About Actuant

Actuant Corporation designs, manufactures and distributes a range of industrial products and systems to various end markets. The Company operates through three segments: Industrial, Energy and Engineered Solutions. The Company’s Industrial segment is primarily involved in the design, manufacture and distribution of branded hydraulic and mechanical tools to the maintenance, industrial, infrastructure and production automation markets. The Company’s Energy segment provides joint integrity products and services, customized offshore vessel mooring solutions, as well as rope and cable solutions to the global oil and gas, power generation and other energy markets. The Company’s Engineered Solutions segment provides engineered position and motion control systems to original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in various on and off-highway vehicle markets, as well as various other products to the industrial and agricultural markets.

About Proto Labs

Proto Labs, Inc. is an e-commerce driven digital manufacturer of on-demand three dimensional (3D) printed, computer numerical control (CNC) machined and injection-molded custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. The Company’s geographic segments include the United States, Europe and Japan. The Company targets its products to the product developers and engineers who use 3D computer-aided design (3D CAD) software to design products across a range of end markets. Its product lines include Injection Molding, CNC Machining and 3D Printing. Its Injection Molding product line is used for prototype, on-demand and short-run production. Its CNC Machining product line uses commercially available CNC machines to cut plastic or metal blocks into one or more custom parts based on the 3D CAD model uploaded by the product developer or engineer. Its 3D Printing product line includes stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) processes.

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