MKS Instruments (NASDAQ: MKSI) and ESCO Technologies (NYSE:ESE) are both computer and technology companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, dividends, risk, institutional ownership, analyst recommendations, earnings and profitability.

Dividends

MKS Instruments pays an annual dividend of $0.70 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.9%. ESCO Technologies pays an annual dividend of $0.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.6%. MKS Instruments pays out 14.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. ESCO Technologies pays out 16.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. MKS Instruments is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Profitability

This table compares MKS Instruments and ESCO Technologies’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
MKS Instruments 15.47% 19.47% 11.16%
ESCO Technologies 8.06% 8.36% 4.84%

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares MKS Instruments and ESCO Technologies’ top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
MKS Instruments $1.70 billion 2.53 $405.48 million $4.80 16.55
ESCO Technologies $638.24 million 2.08 $108.39 million $1.98 25.96

MKS Instruments has higher revenue and earnings than ESCO Technologies. MKS Instruments is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ESCO Technologies, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for MKS Instruments and ESCO Technologies, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
MKS Instruments 0 0 4 0 3.00
ESCO Technologies 0 0 3 0 3.00

MKS Instruments presently has a consensus price target of $85.25, indicating a potential upside of 7.30%. ESCO Technologies has a consensus price target of $66.50, indicating a potential upside of 29.38%. Given ESCO Technologies’ higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe ESCO Technologies is more favorable than MKS Instruments.

Volatility & Risk

MKS Instruments has a beta of 1.07, meaning that its share price is 7% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, ESCO Technologies has a beta of 1.01, meaning that its share price is 1% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

98.3% of MKS Instruments shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.6% of ESCO Technologies shares are held by institutional investors. 1.7% of MKS Instruments shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 2.3% of ESCO Technologies shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

MKS Instruments beats ESCO Technologies on 12 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About MKS Instruments

MKS Instruments, Inc. is a global provider of instruments, subsystems and process control solutions that measures, controls, powers, delivers, monitors and analyzes critical parameters of advanced manufacturing processes. The Company operates through two segments, including the Vacuum & Analysis segment and the Light & Motion segment. The Vacuum & Analysis segment provides a range of instruments, components, subsystems and software, which are derived from its core competencies in pressure measurement and control, flow measurement and control, gas and vapor delivery, gas composition analysis, residual gas analysis, leak detection, control and information technology, ozone generation and delivery, radio frequency (RF) and direct current (DC) power, reactive gas generation and vacuum technology. The Light & Motion segment provides a range of instruments, components and subsystems, which are derived from its core competencies in lasers, photonics and optics.

About ESCO Technologies

ESCO Technologies Inc. (ESCO) is a producer of engineered products and systems sold to customers for utility, industrial, aerospace and commercial applications. The Company operates through four segments: Filtration/Fluid Flow (Filtration), RF Shielding and Test (Test), Utility Solutions Group (USG) and Technical Packaging. The filtration segment’s activities are managed by its subsidiaries, Crissair, Inc. (Crissair), PTI Technologies Inc. (PTI), VACCO Industries (VACCO) and Westland Technologies Inc. (Westland). The Test segment activities are managed by its subsidiaries, Beijing Lindgren ElectronMagnetic Technology Co., Ltd., ETS-Lindgren Inc. and ETS-Lindgren OY. The USG segment activities are managed by its subsidiaries, including Doble Engineering Company, Doble PowerTest Ltd and Doble TransiNor AS. The technical packaging activities are managed by its subsidiaries, Thermoform Engineered Quality LLC (TEQ), Plastique Limited and Plastique Sp. z o.o.

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