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

Profitability

This table compares Marten Transport and Saia’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Marten Transport 4.91% 7.74% 5.17%
Saia 3.92% 10.27% 5.80%

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for Marten Transport and Saia, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Marten Transport 0 3 0 0 2.00
Saia 0 2 4 0 2.67

Marten Transport currently has a consensus target price of $14.10, indicating a potential downside of 14.02%. Saia has a consensus target price of $52.50, indicating a potential downside of 0.19%. Given Saia’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Saia is more favorable than Marten Transport.

Dividends

Marten Transport pays an annual dividend of $0.06 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.4%. Saia does not pay a dividend. Marten Transport pays out 9.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Marten Transport and Saia’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Marten Transport $682.37 million 1.31 $130.73 million $0.61 26.80
Saia $1.25 billion 1.06 $158.10 million $1.90 27.68

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

Risk and Volatility

Marten Transport has a beta of 1.27, meaning that its stock price is 27% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Saia has a beta of 0.77, meaning that its stock price is 23% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

68.6% of Marten Transport shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.6% of Saia shares are owned by institutional investors. 23.0% of Marten Transport shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.5% of Saia shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Summary

Saia beats Marten Transport on 11 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

Marten Transport Company Profile

Marten Transport, Ltd. is a temperature-sensitive truckload carrier. The Company focuses on transporting and distributing food and other consumer-packaged goods that require a temperature-controlled or insulated environment. The Company operates through four segments: Truckload, Dedicated, Intermodal and Brokerage. It operates throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. The Company’s medium-to-long-haul traffic lanes are between the Midwest and the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, and the East Coast, as well as from California to the Pacific Northwest. It provides regional truckload carrier services in the Southeast, West Coast, Midwest, South Central and Northeast regions. It also offers loading and unloading activities, equipment detention and other ancillary services. The Company’s Truckload segment provides a combination of regional short-haul and medium-to-long-haul full-load transportation services.

Saia Company Profile

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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