Martin Midstream Partners L.P. (NASDAQ: MMLP) and Kirby Corporation (NYSE:KEX) are both transportation companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their risk, valuation, dividends, analyst recommendations, earnings, profitabiliy and institutional ownership.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Martin Midstream Partners L.P. and Kirby Corporation’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. N/A N/A N/A $0.68 27.65
Kirby Corporation $1.80 billion 1.93 $425.92 million $2.42 26.53

Kirby Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Martin Midstream Partners L.P.. Kirby Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Martin Midstream Partners L.P., indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

33.9% of Martin Midstream Partners L.P. shares are held by institutional investors. 17.0% of Martin Midstream Partners L.P. shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 2.7% of Kirby Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Volatility & Risk

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. has a beta of 1.49, indicating that its stock price is 49% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Kirby Corporation has a beta of 1.03, indicating that its stock price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. pays an annual dividend of $2.00 per share and has a dividend yield of 10.6%. Kirby Corporation does not pay a dividend. Martin Midstream Partners L.P. pays out 294.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current recommendations for Martin Midstream Partners L.P. and Kirby Corporation, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. 0 3 1 0 2.25
Kirby Corporation 0 6 3 0 2.33

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. presently has a consensus target price of $22.00, suggesting a potential upside of 17.02%. Kirby Corporation has a consensus target price of $67.63, suggesting a potential upside of 5.33%. Given Martin Midstream Partners L.P.’s higher possible upside, research analysts clearly believe Martin Midstream Partners L.P. is more favorable than Kirby Corporation.

Profitability

This table compares Martin Midstream Partners L.P. and Kirby Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Martin Midstream Partners L.P. 3.43% 8.89% 2.28%
Kirby Corporation 7.25% 5.46% 3.07%

About Martin Midstream Partners L.P.

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. is a limited partnership with a set of operations focused in the United States Gulf Coast region. The Company’s four business lines include terminalling and storage services for petroleum products and by-products, including the refining of naphthenic crude oil and the blending and packaging of finished lubricants; natural gas services, including liquids transportation and distribution services, and natural gas storage; sulfur and sulfur-based products processing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution, and marine transportation services for petroleum products and by-products. The petroleum products and by-products it collects, transports, stores and markets are produced by oil and gas companies. As of December 31, 2016, it operated 26 marine shore-based terminal facilities and 14 specialty terminal facilities located in the United States Gulf Coast region. Its customers include oil and gas companies, chemical companies and fertilizer manufacturers.

About Kirby Corporation

Kirby Corporation is a domestic tank barge operator, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, coastwise along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii. The Company, through its subsidiaries, operates in two segments: Marine Transportation and Diesel Engine Services. The Company, through its Marine Transportation segment, is a provider of marine transportation services, operating tank barges and towing vessels transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, coastwise along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii. Its engine services segment, sells replacement parts, provides service mechanics to overhaul and repair medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines, transmissions, reduction gears, pumps and compression products, maintains facilities to rebuild component parts or entire medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines.

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