MKS Instruments (NASDAQ: MKSI) and Mesa Laboratories (NASDAQ:MLAB) are both industrials companies, but which is the superior stock? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their earnings, valuation, profitability, risk, analyst recommendations, dividends and institutional ownership.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

95.5% of MKS Instruments shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 69.8% of Mesa Laboratories shares are owned by institutional investors. 1.7% of MKS Instruments shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 15.7% of Mesa Laboratories shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
MKS Instruments 16.97% 21.21% 12.66%
Mesa Laboratories 11.48% 14.77% 8.57%

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories’ gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
MKS Instruments $1.30 billion 3.95 $104.80 million $5.59 16.85
Mesa Laboratories $93.67 million 5.32 $11.18 million $2.77 47.55

MKS Instruments has higher revenue and earnings than Mesa Laboratories. MKS Instruments is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Mesa Laboratories, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations for MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
MKS Instruments 0 0 4 0 3.00
Mesa Laboratories 0 0 1 0 3.00

MKS Instruments currently has a consensus price target of $109.75, indicating a potential upside of 16.51%. Given MKS Instruments’ higher possible upside, research analysts plainly believe MKS Instruments is more favorable than Mesa Laboratories.

Volatility and Risk

MKS Instruments has a beta of 1.04, indicating that its share price is 4% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Mesa Laboratories has a beta of 0.41, indicating that its share price is 59% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

MKS Instruments pays an annual dividend of $0.72 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.8%. Mesa Laboratories pays an annual dividend of $0.64 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. MKS Instruments pays out 12.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Mesa Laboratories pays out 23.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. MKS Instruments is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Summary

MKS Instruments beats Mesa Laboratories on 12 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About MKS Instruments

MKS Instruments, Inc. is a global provider of instruments, subsystems and process control solutions that measures, controls, powers, delivers, monitors and analyzes critical parameters of advanced manufacturing processes. The Company operates through two segments, including the Vacuum & Analysis segment and the Light & Motion segment. The Vacuum & Analysis segment provides a range of instruments, components, subsystems and software, which are derived from its core competencies in pressure measurement and control, flow measurement and control, gas and vapor delivery, gas composition analysis, residual gas analysis, leak detection, control and information technology, ozone generation and delivery, radio frequency (RF) and direct current (DC) power, reactive gas generation and vacuum technology. The Light & Motion segment provides a range of instruments, components and subsystems, which are derived from its core competencies in lasers, photonics and optics.

About Mesa Laboratories

Mesa Laboratories, Inc. is focused primarily on quality control products and services. The Company operates through four segments: Instruments, Continuous Monitoring, Biological Indicators and Cold Chain. The Instruments Division designs, manufactures and markets quality control instruments and disposable products. Its Biological Indicators Division provides testing services, along with the manufacturing and marketing of biological indicators and distribution of chemical indicators used to assess the effectiveness of sterilization processes. Its Continuous Monitoring Division designs, develops and markets systems, which are used to monitor various environmental parameters. Its Cold Chain Division provides parameter (primarily temperature) monitoring of products in a cold chain. The Company’s brands include DataTrace, DialyGuard, DryCal, Torqo, SureTorque, BGI, Mesa, PCD, Apex, CheckPoint, Mesa and TempTrust.

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