Cato Corporation (The) (NYSE: CATO) and bebe stores, inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE) are both small-cap retail/wholesale companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, valuation, profitability, risk, dividends, earnings and institutional ownership.

Risk & Volatility

Cato Corporation (The) has a beta of 1.13, meaning that its share price is 13% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, bebe stores, inc. has a beta of 2.7, meaning that its share price is 170% more volatile than the S&P 500.


This table compares Cato Corporation (The) and bebe stores, inc.’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Cato Corporation (The) 1.92% 4.37% 2.86%
bebe stores, inc. -11.36% -66.82% -45.84%

Institutional & Insider Ownership

88.4% of Cato Corporation (The) shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 16.2% of bebe stores, inc. shares are held by institutional investors. 9.0% of Cato Corporation (The) shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 59.0% of bebe stores, inc. shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current ratings and price targets for Cato Corporation (The) and bebe stores, inc., as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Cato Corporation (The) 0 1 0 0 2.00
bebe stores, inc. 0 0 0 0 N/A

Cato Corporation (The) presently has a consensus target price of $20.00, indicating a potential upside of 48.70%. Given Cato Corporation (The)’s higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe Cato Corporation (The) is more favorable than bebe stores, inc..

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Cato Corporation (The) and bebe stores, inc.’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Cato Corporation (The) $876.41 million 0.38 $34.92 million $0.64 21.02
bebe stores, inc. $349.81 million 0.12 -$29.60 million ($4.96) -1.02

Cato Corporation (The) has higher revenue and earnings than bebe stores, inc.. bebe stores, inc. is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Cato Corporation (The), indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.


Cato Corporation (The) pays an annual dividend of $1.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 9.8%. bebe stores, inc. does not pay a dividend. Cato Corporation (The) pays out 206.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. bebe stores, inc. has increased its dividend for 7 consecutive years.


Cato Corporation (The) beats bebe stores, inc. on 10 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Cato Corporation (The)

The Cato Corporation is a fashion specialty retailer. The Company’s merchandise lines include dressy, career, and casual sportswear, dresses, coats, shoes, lingerie, costume jewelry, handbags, men’s wear and lines for kids and newborns. The Company has two segments: the operation of a fashion specialty stores segment (Retail Segment) and a credit card segment (Credit Segment). The Company operated its women’s fashion specialty retail stores in 33 states as of January 28, 2017, principally in the southeastern United States. The Company offers its own credit card to its customers and all credit authorizations, payment processing, and collection efforts are performed by a separate subsidiary of the Company. The Company’s stores offer an assortment of on-trend apparel and accessory items in primarily junior/missy, plus sizes, men’s and kids sizes with a focus on color, product coordination and selection.

About bebe stores, inc.

bebe stores, inc. designs, develops and produces a range of contemporary women’s apparel and accessories. The Company’s product offering includes a range of separates, tops, dresses, active wear and accessories for a range of occasions. It designs and develops its merchandise in-house, which is manufactured to its specifications and it also sources directly from third-party manufacturers. The Company also offers accessories, which include jewelry, optical, fragrance, shoes and handbags. The Company operates stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. In addition, it has an online store at that ships to customers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United States Protectorates and internationally via its third-party providers, International Checkout and Shoprunner. It has international stores operated by licensees in South East Asia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South America, Turkey and other territories.

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