Mesa Laboratories (NASDAQ: MLAB) and Image Sensing Systems (NASDAQ:ISNS) are both small-cap medical companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their risk, dividends, earnings, profitabiliy, valuation, institutional ownership and analyst recommendations.

Dividends

Mesa Laboratories pays an annual dividend of $0.64 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. Image Sensing Systems does not pay a dividend. Mesa Laboratories pays out 22.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Mesa Laboratories and Image Sensing Systems’ top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Mesa Laboratories $93.67 million 5.64 $25.82 million $2.91 48.58
Image Sensing Systems $13.99 million 1.34 $1.46 million $0.23 15.87

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

Institutional & Insider Ownership

65.2% of Mesa Laboratories shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 15.7% of Image Sensing Systems shares are owned by institutional investors. 17.0% of Mesa Laboratories shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 5.0% of Image Sensing Systems shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for Mesa Laboratories and Image Sensing Systems, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Mesa Laboratories 0 0 1 0 3.00
Image Sensing Systems 0 0 0 0 N/A

Profitability

This table compares Mesa Laboratories and Image Sensing Systems’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Mesa Laboratories 11.94% 17.67% 9.74%
Image Sensing Systems 8.41% 19.76% 14.74%

Volatility & Risk

Mesa Laboratories has a beta of 0.44, meaning that its stock price is 56% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Image Sensing Systems has a beta of 0.44, meaning that its stock price is 56% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Mesa Laboratories beats Image Sensing Systems on 10 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

Mesa Laboratories Company Profile

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.

Image Sensing Systems Company Profile

Image Sensing Systems, Inc. is a provider of software-based products and solutions for the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) industry. The Company develops and markets video and radar processing products for use in traffic, security, police and parking applications, such as intersection control, highway, bridge and tunnel traffic management, venue security, entry control and traffic data collection. The Company operates through two segments: Intersection and Highway. Video products are sold in the Intersection segment. Radar products are sold in the Highway segment. The Company’s family of products, which it markets as Autoscope video or video products (Autoscope) and RTMS radar or radar products (RTMS), provides end users with the tools that manage traffic flow and support driver safety. Its technology analyzes signals from sensors and transmits the information to management systems and controllers or directly to users.

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