Forward Air Corporation (NASDAQ: FWRD) and ModusLink Global Solutions (NASDAQ:MLNK) are both small-cap transportation companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, dividends, profitabiliy, risk, earnings, valuation and institutional ownership.

Risk & Volatility

Forward Air Corporation has a beta of 1.06, indicating that its stock price is 6% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, ModusLink Global Solutions has a beta of 0.78, indicating that its stock price is 22% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

Forward Air Corporation pays an annual dividend of $0.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. ModusLink Global Solutions does not pay a dividend. Forward Air Corporation pays out 63.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Profitability

This table compares Forward Air Corporation and ModusLink Global Solutions’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Forward Air Corporation 2.88% 13.06% 10.11%
ModusLink Global Solutions -8.26% -47.50% -11.12%

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Forward Air Corporation and ModusLink Global Solutions’ revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Forward Air Corporation $999.96 million 1.60 $141.81 million $0.95 55.80
ModusLink Global Solutions $438.35 million 0.19 -$11.07 million ($0.68) -2.25

Forward Air Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than ModusLink Global Solutions. ModusLink Global Solutions is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Forward Air Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent ratings for Forward Air Corporation and ModusLink Global Solutions, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Forward Air Corporation 0 5 1 0 2.17
ModusLink Global Solutions 0 1 0 0 2.00

Forward Air Corporation currently has a consensus price target of $47.00, suggesting a potential downside of 11.34%. ModusLink Global Solutions has a consensus price target of $8.00, suggesting a potential upside of 422.88%. Given ModusLink Global Solutions’ higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe ModusLink Global Solutions is more favorable than Forward Air Corporation.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

98.5% of Forward Air Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 57.7% of ModusLink Global Solutions shares are owned by institutional investors. 2.4% of Forward Air Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.3% of ModusLink Global Solutions shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

Forward Air Corporation beats ModusLink Global Solutions on 13 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

Forward Air Corporation Company Profile

Forward Air Corporation is a freight and logistics company. The Company provides less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload, intermodal and pool distribution services across the United States and in Canada. The Company’s segments include Expedited LTL, Truckload Premium Services (TLS), Intermodal and Pool Distribution. Expedited LTL segment provides expedited regional, inter-regional and national LTL services. TLS segment is a provider of transportation management services, including, but not limited to, expedited truckload brokerage, fleet services, as well as security and temperature-controlled logistics services in the United States and Canada. Intermodal offers first- and last-mile transportation of freight both to and from seaports and railheads through fleet and third party transportation providers. Pool distribution involves managing high-frequency handling and distribution of time-sensitive product to numerous destinations in specific geographic regions.

ModusLink Global Solutions Company Profile

ModusLink Global Solutions, Inc. is a provider of supply chain and logistics services through its subsidiaries, ModusLink Corporation and ModusLink PTS, Inc. The Company provides services to companies in the consumer electronics, communications, computing, software, storage and retail industries. The Company operates through four segments: Americas, Asia, Europe and e-business. As of July 31, 2016, the Company operated in over 20 sites across North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The Company’s Supply Chain Business operation’s solutions include material planning and factory supply; value-added warehousing and distribution; aftermarket services, including product returns management and product repair and recovery, and e-business, including e-commerce, contact center, entitlement management and financial management.

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