ICON PLC (NASDAQ: ICLR) and Esperion Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ESPR) are both medical companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, profitability, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, earnings, valuation and dividends.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current ratings and recommmendations for ICON PLC and Esperion Therapeutics, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
ICON PLC 0 2 6 1 2.89
Esperion Therapeutics 0 5 7 0 2.58

ICON PLC presently has a consensus price target of $108.43, suggesting a potential downside of 4.84%. Esperion Therapeutics has a consensus price target of $54.41, suggesting a potential upside of 3.11%. Given Esperion Therapeutics’ higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Esperion Therapeutics is more favorable than ICON PLC.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares ICON PLC and Esperion Therapeutics’ top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
ICON PLC $1.72 billion 3.58 $393.57 million $4.94 23.06
Esperion Therapeutics N/A N/A -$131.29 million ($5.78) -9.13

ICON PLC has higher revenue and earnings than Esperion Therapeutics. Esperion Therapeutics is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ICON PLC, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility and Risk

ICON PLC has a beta of 0.6, indicating that its share price is 40% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Esperion Therapeutics has a beta of 2.68, indicating that its share price is 168% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares ICON PLC and Esperion Therapeutics’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
ICON PLC 15.97% 28.72% 15.01%
Esperion Therapeutics N/A -62.82% -57.32%

Institutional and Insider Ownership

90.6% of ICON PLC shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 83.3% of Esperion Therapeutics shares are owned by institutional investors. 44.0% of ICON PLC shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 32.5% of Esperion Therapeutics shares are owned 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.

Summary

ICON PLC beats Esperion Therapeutics on 10 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

ICON PLC Company Profile

ICON public limited company is a contract research organization (CRO), which is engaged in providing outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. The Company is engaged in the strategic development, management and analysis of programs that support the various stages of the clinical development process, from compound selection to Phase I-IV clinical studies. Its services include clinical trials management, biometric activities, consulting, imaging, contract staffing, informatics and laboratory services. The Company’s information systems offerings include ICONIK, Firecrest, ADDPLAN, AptivAdvantage and Aptiv Insite. It conducts various laboratory tests on the patient’s blood, urine and other bodily fluids at appropriate intervals during the trial. The Company offers clinical development services, including investigator recruitment, patient registries, outcomes research, clinical data management, immunoassay development and others.

Esperion Therapeutics Company Profile

Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. is a lipid management company. The Company is a late-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing once-daily, oral therapies for the treatment of patients with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). With a targeted mechanism of action, bempedoic acid, the Company’s lead product candidate, is an orally available, once-daily adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-citrate lyase (ACL) inhibitor that reduces cholesterol biosynthesis and lowers elevated levels of LDL-C by up-regulating the LDL receptor, but with reduced potential for muscle-related side effects. In addition to bempedoic acid as monotherapy, the Company is also developing bempedoic acid in a fixed dose combination with ezetimibe, an approved, non-statin, oral, LDL-C lowering therapy. As of December 31, 2016, the Company was engaged in conducting its global Phase III clinical development program for bempedoic acid.

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