Comfort Systems USA (NYSE: FIX) and Proto Labs (NYSE:PRLB) are both construction companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, dividends, profitability, risk, earnings, valuation and institutional ownership.

Risk & Volatility

Comfort Systems USA has a beta of 1.25, indicating that its stock price is 25% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Proto Labs has a beta of 0.99, indicating that its stock price is 1% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent ratings for Comfort Systems USA and Proto Labs, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Comfort Systems USA 0 2 2 0 2.50
Proto Labs 0 3 0 0 2.00

Comfort Systems USA currently has a consensus price target of $83.00, suggesting a potential upside of 121.93%. Proto Labs has a consensus price target of $56.00, suggesting a potential downside of 29.78%. Given Comfort Systems USA’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities analysts clearly believe Comfort Systems USA is more favorable than Proto Labs.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

92.5% of Comfort Systems USA shares are owned by institutional investors. 3.5% of Comfort Systems USA shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 7.8% of Proto Labs shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares Comfort Systems USA and Proto Labs’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Comfort Systems USA 3.77% 16.52% 8.35%
Proto Labs 14.59% 11.75% 10.71%

Dividends

Comfort Systems USA pays an annual dividend of $0.30 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.8%. Proto Labs does not pay a dividend. Comfort Systems USA pays out 18.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Proto Labs has raised its dividend for 4 consecutive years.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Comfort Systems USA and Proto Labs’ revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Comfort Systems USA $1.67 billion 0.84 $129.25 million $1.67 22.40
Proto Labs $312.73 million 6.79 $85.30 million $1.71 46.64

Comfort Systems USA has higher revenue and earnings than Proto Labs. Comfort Systems USA is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Proto Labs, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

Comfort Systems USA beats Proto Labs on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Comfort Systems USA Company Profile

Comfort Systems USA, Inc. is a provider of mechanical contracting services, which principally includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, piping and controls, as well as off-site construction, electrical, monitoring and fire protection. As of December 31, 2016, the Company installed, maintained, repaired and replaced products and systems throughout its 35 operating units in 84 cities and 91 locations throughout the United States. The Company operates primarily in the commercial, industrial and institutional HVAC markets and offers services in the industrial, healthcare, education, office, technology, retail and government facilities. The Company provides a range of construction, renovation, expansion, maintenance, repair and replacement services for mechanical and related systems in commercial, industrial and institutional properties. The Company also provides remote monitoring of temperature, pressure, humidity and air flow for HVAC systems.

Proto Labs Company Profile

Proto Labs, Inc. is an e-commerce driven digital manufacturer of on-demand three dimensional (3D) printed, computer numerical control (CNC) machined and injection-molded custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. The Company’s geographic segments include the United States, Europe and Japan. The Company targets its products to the product developers and engineers who use 3D computer-aided design (3D CAD) software to design products across a range of end markets. Its product lines include Injection Molding, CNC Machining and 3D Printing. Its Injection Molding product line is used for prototype, on-demand and short-run production. Its CNC Machining product line uses commercially available CNC machines to cut plastic or metal blocks into one or more custom parts based on the 3D CAD model uploaded by the product developer or engineer. Its 3D Printing product line includes stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) processes.

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