Aspen Group (NASDAQ: ASPU) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) are both small-cap computer and technology companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, valuation, risk, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, earnings and profitability.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and price targets for Aspen Group and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Aspen Group 0 0 2 0 3.00
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 0 4 1 0 2.20

Aspen Group presently has a consensus price target of $10.00, indicating a potential upside of 16.41%. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a consensus price target of $13.10, indicating a potential upside of 53.22%. Given Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is more favorable than Aspen Group.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Aspen Group and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Aspen Group $14.25 million 8.19 -$1.10 million ($0.13) -66.08
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $1.37 billion 0.77 -$284.55 million ($2.11) -4.05

Aspen Group has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Aspen Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility & Risk

Aspen Group has a beta of 0.74, meaning that its share price is 26% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a beta of 0.61, meaning that its share price is 39% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

1.8% of Aspen Group shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 98.3% of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt shares are held by institutional investors. 15.3% of Aspen Group shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 1.3% of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares Aspen Group and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Aspen Group -8.69% -29.44% -14.10%
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -18.59% -17.37% -5.20%

Summary

Aspen Group beats Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 8 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Aspen Group

Aspen Group, Inc. is a holding company. The Company’s subsidiary, Aspen University Inc. (Aspen), is dedicated to provide the education experiences taught by professors. Aspen offers approximately two monthly payment programs, a monthly payment plan in which students make payments every month over a fixed period (36, 39 or 72 months depending on the degree program) and a monthly installment plan in which students pay over three monthly installments (day 1, day 31 and day 61 after the start of each course). As of June 30, 2016, Aspen had 2,074 students paying tuition through either of the monthly payment methods. It offers certificate programs and associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in a range of areas, including nursing, business, education and professional studies. It offers a range of nursing degrees, including Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Education and Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Administration and Management.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company (HMH) is a global learning company, specializing in education solutions across a range of media. The Company operates through two segments: Education and Trade Publishing. As of December 31, 2016, the Company delivered content, services and technology to both educational institutions and consumers, reaching over 50 million students in approximately 150 countries across the world. It sells its products and services across multiple media and distribution channels. Its Education segment provides educational content, services and technology solutions to meet the diverse needs of classrooms. Its Trade Publishing segment develops, markets and sells consumer books in print and digital formats, and licenses book rights to other publishers and electronic businesses in the United States and abroad.

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