USA Truck (NASDAQ: USAK) and Saia (NASDAQ:SAIA) are both small-cap transportation companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, valuation, earnings, profitabiliy, dividends, risk and institutional ownership.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and target prices for USA Truck and Saia, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
USA Truck 0 2 1 0 2.33
Saia 0 2 4 0 2.67

USA Truck currently has a consensus price target of $8.08, suggesting a potential upside of 22.85%. Saia has a consensus price target of $52.50, suggesting a potential upside of 3.75%. Given USA Truck’s higher probable upside, research analysts plainly believe USA Truck is more favorable than Saia.

Risk & Volatility

USA Truck has a beta of 2.37, indicating that its share price is 137% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Saia has a beta of 0.77, indicating that its share price is 23% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares USA Truck and Saia’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
USA Truck -2.57% -16.02% -3.32%
Saia 3.92% 10.27% 5.80%

Institutional and Insider Ownership

66.4% of USA Truck shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.7% of Saia shares are owned by institutional investors. 3.5% of USA Truck shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 1.5% of Saia shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares USA Truck and Saia’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
USA Truck $420.15 million 0.13 $22.29 million ($1.33) -4.95
Saia $1.25 billion 1.02 $158.10 million $1.90 26.63

Saia has higher revenue and earnings than USA Truck. USA Truck is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Saia, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

Saia beats USA Truck on 10 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About USA Truck

USA Truck, Inc. is a truckload carrier providing transportation of general commodities throughout the continental United States and into and out of portions of Mexico and Canada. The Company operates through two segments: Trucking and Strategic Capacity Solutions (SCS). The Trucking segment consists of truckload and dedicated freight services. The SCS segment consists of freight brokerage and rail intermodal services. The Company transports full dry van trailer loads of freight from origin to destination without intermediate stops or handling. The Company offers a range of truckload and logistics services to a customer base that spans a range of industries. The Company’s fleet of approximately 1,832 tractors consists of 1,568 company tractors and 264 independent contractor tractors. The Company owns approximately 6,200 trailers. The Company also transports general commodities into and out of Mexico by allowing through-trailer service from its terminal in Laredo, Texas.

About Saia

Saia, Inc. is a transportation company. The Company provides regional and interregional less-than-truckload (LTL) services. The Company also offers a range of other value-added services, including non-asset truckload, expedited and logistics services across the United States. The Company’s subsidiary Saia Motor Freight Line, LLC (Saia LTL Freight) is a LTL carrier. As of December 31, 2016, Saia LTL Freight had served 34 states in the South, Southwest, Midwest, Pacific Northwest and West. Saia LTL Freight specializes in offering its customers a range of regional and interregional LTL services, including time-definite and expedited options. As of December 31, 2016, Saia LTL Freight operated a network consisting of 151 owned and leased locations. The Company’s other subsidiaries include Saia TL Plus, LLC, Saia Logistics Services, LLC, Saia Sales, LLC, Saia Metrogo, LLC, LinkEx, Inc. and Saia Motor Freight Mexico, S. DE R.L. DE C.V.

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