Argan (NYSE: AGX) and Aegion Corp (NASDAQ:AEGN) are both small-cap construction companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their profitabiliy, earnings, dividends, risk, valuation, analyst recommendations and institutional ownership.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Argan and Aegion Corp, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Argan 0 2 1 0 2.33
Aegion Corp 0 4 3 0 2.43

Argan presently has a consensus target price of $71.00, suggesting a potential upside of 13.69%. Aegion Corp has a consensus target price of $24.50, suggesting a potential upside of 4.34%. Given Argan’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Argan is more favorable than Aegion Corp.

Dividends

Argan pays an annual dividend of $0.70 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. Aegion Corp does not pay a dividend. Argan pays out 13.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Profitability

This table compares Argan and Aegion Corp’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Argan 10.15% 27.78% 13.15%
Aegion Corp 3.12% 7.07% 3.34%

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Argan and Aegion Corp’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Argan $775.19 million 1.25 $126.79 million $5.05 12.37
Aegion Corp $1.25 billion 0.60 $120.10 million $1.13 20.78

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

Insider and Institutional Ownership

86.5% of Argan shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 87.6% of Aegion Corp shares are held by institutional investors. 9.5% of Argan shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 3.6% of Aegion Corp shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Volatility and Risk

Argan has a beta of 0.91, meaning that its share price is 9% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Aegion Corp has a beta of 1.65, meaning that its share price is 65% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Argan beats Aegion Corp on 9 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

Argan Company Profile

Argan, Inc. is a holding company. The Company conducts operations through its subsidiaries, Gemma Power Systems, LLC and affiliates (GPS), Atlantic Projects Company Limited (APC), Southern Maryland Cable, Inc. (SMC) and The Roberts Company (Roberts). Through GPS and APC, the Company’s power industry services segment provides engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning, operations management, maintenance, development, technical and consulting services to the power generation and renewable energy markets. Through SMC, the telecommunications infrastructure services segment of the Company provides project management, construction, installation and maintenance services to commercial, local government and federal government customers. Through Roberts, the Company’s industrial fabrication and field services segment produces, delivers and installs fabricated steel components specializing in pressure vessels and heat exchangers for industrial plants.

Aegion Corp Company Profile

Aegion Corporation (Aegion) is engaged in providing infrastructure protection and maintenance. The Company operates through three segments: Infrastructure Solutions, Corrosion Protection and Energy Services. The Company offers service solutions, including rehabilitation of water and wastewater pipelines with Insituform cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) products; fusible polyvinyl chloride products for rehabilitation; fiber reinforced polymer systems for rehabilitation and strengthening; cathodic protection for corrosion engineering control and infrastructure rehabilitation; pipe coatings for corrosion control and prevention; high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe lining for corrosion control, abrasion protection and pipeline rehabilitation, and construction and maintenance of oil and gas facilities. The Company’s Insituform CIPP Process for the rehabilitation of sewers, pipelines and other conduits utilizes a custom-manufactured tube, or liner, made of synthetic fiber.

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