North American Energy Partners (NYSE: NOA) and Willbros Group (NYSE:WG) are both small-cap oils/energy companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their earnings, valuation, institutional ownership, risk, profitabiliy, dividends and analyst recommendations.

Dividends

North American Energy Partners pays an annual dividend of $0.06 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.4%. Willbros Group does not pay a dividend. North American Energy Partners pays out 100.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Willbros Group has increased its dividend for 2 consecutive years.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares North American Energy Partners and Willbros Group’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
North American Energy Partners $179.95 million 0.64 $40.03 million $0.06 70.00
Willbros Group $696.56 million 0.19 -$11.76 million ($0.81) -2.57

North American Energy Partners has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Willbros Group. Willbros Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than North American Energy Partners, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility and Risk

North American Energy Partners has a beta of 0.64, meaning that its stock price is 36% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Willbros Group has a beta of 3.26, meaning that its stock price is 226% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings for North American Energy Partners and Willbros Group, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
North American Energy Partners 0 0 3 0 3.00
Willbros Group 1 0 0 0 1.00

North American Energy Partners currently has a consensus price target of $9.00, suggesting a potential upside of 114.29%. Willbros Group has a consensus price target of $1.40, suggesting a potential downside of 32.69%. Given North American Energy Partners’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, equities analysts clearly believe North American Energy Partners is more favorable than Willbros Group.

Profitability

This table compares North American Energy Partners and Willbros Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
North American Energy Partners 1.13% 1.57% 0.73%
Willbros Group -7.23% -32.83% -12.09%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

45.1% of North American Energy Partners shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 57.7% of Willbros Group shares are owned by institutional investors. 2.1% of Willbros Group shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

North American Energy Partners beats Willbros Group on 10 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

About North American Energy Partners

North American Energy Partners Inc. provides a range of mining and heavy construction services to customers in the resource development and industrial construction sectors within Western Canada. The Company’s operating divisions include Heavy Construction and Mining; Industrial, and Tailings & Environmental Construction. Its Heavy Construction and Mining division is engaged in hard rock and oil sands mining, overburden removal, mine site development and mine reclamation. Its Industrial division offers services, which include site development, installation of underground utilities and piping, concrete foundations, facilities and infrastructure construction, and design/build services. The Tailings & Environmental Construction division performs a range of tailings, reclamation and environmental construction services, including oil sands tailings remediation; management of mine tailings; tailings dam and dyke construction, pipeline co-corridor construction, and tailings pipelines.

About Willbros Group

Willbros Group, Inc. is a specialty energy infrastructure contractor serving the oil and gas and power industries with offerings that primarily include construction, maintenance and facilities development services. The Company operates through three segments: Oil & Gas, Utility T&D and Canada. The Company provides services through operating subsidiaries. The Company’s segments operated primarily in the United States and Canada. The Company provides construction, maintenance and lifecycle extension services to the midstream markets. The Company provides a range of services in electric and natural gas transmission and distribution, including engineering, procurement, maintenance and construction, repair and restoration of utility infrastructure. It is engaged in construction, maintenance and fabrication, including integrity and supporting civil work, general mechanical and facility construction, application program interface (API) storage tanks, general and modular fabrication.

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