MKS Instruments (NASDAQ: MKSI) and Mesa Laboratories (NASDAQ:MLAB) are both computer and technology companies, but which is the better business? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their valuation, institutional ownership, analyst recommendations, dividends, earnings, profitability and risk.

Volatility and Risk

MKS Instruments has a beta of 1.04, indicating that its share price is 4% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Mesa Laboratories has a beta of 0.41, indicating that its share price is 59% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings and target prices for MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
MKS Instruments 0 0 4 0 3.00
Mesa Laboratories 0 0 1 0 3.00

MKS Instruments currently has a consensus price target of $109.75, indicating a potential upside of 17.82%. Given MKS Instruments’ higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe MKS Instruments is more favorable than Mesa Laboratories.

Dividends

MKS Instruments pays an annual dividend of $0.72 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.8%. Mesa Laboratories pays an annual dividend of $0.64 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. MKS Instruments pays out 12.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Mesa Laboratories pays out 23.1% 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.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

95.5% of MKS Instruments shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 69.8% of Mesa Laboratories shares are held by institutional investors. 1.7% of MKS Instruments shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 15.7% of Mesa Laboratories shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories’ revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
MKS Instruments $1.30 billion 3.90 $104.80 million $5.58 16.69
Mesa Laboratories $93.67 million 5.17 $11.18 million $2.77 46.28

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

Profitability

This table compares MKS Instruments and Mesa Laboratories’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
MKS Instruments 16.97% 21.21% 12.66%
Mesa Laboratories 11.48% 14.77% 8.57%

Summary

MKS Instruments beats Mesa Laboratories on 12 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

MKS Instruments Company Profile

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.

Mesa Laboratories Company Profile

Mesa Laboratories, Inc. is focused primarily on quality control products and services. The Company operates through four segments: Instruments, Continuous Monitoring, Biological Indicators and Cold Chain. The Instruments Division designs, manufactures and markets quality control instruments and disposable products. Its Biological Indicators Division provides testing services, along with the manufacturing and marketing of biological indicators and distribution of chemical indicators used to assess the effectiveness of sterilization processes. Its Continuous Monitoring Division designs, develops and markets systems, which are used to monitor various environmental parameters. Its Cold Chain Division provides parameter (primarily temperature) monitoring of products in a cold chain. The Company’s brands include DataTrace, DialyGuard, DryCal, Torqo, SureTorque, BGI, Mesa, PCD, Apex, CheckPoint, Mesa and TempTrust.

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