Rice Energy (NYSE: RICE) and SM Energy (NYSE:SM) are both mid-cap energy companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, profitability, institutional ownership, risk, valuation, earnings and dividends.

Profitability

This table compares Rice Energy and SM Energy’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Rice Energy 12.25% -13.19% 2.20%
SM Energy -25.17% -2.88% -1.14%

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Rice Energy and SM Energy’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Rice Energy $778.91 million 8.58 -$269.75 million ($1.24) -23.65
SM Energy $1.22 billion 2.46 -$757.74 million ($3.41) -7.87

Rice Energy has higher earnings, but lower revenue than SM Energy. Rice Energy is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than SM Energy, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility & Risk

Rice Energy has a beta of 1.57, indicating that its stock price is 57% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, SM Energy has a beta of 3.02, indicating that its stock price is 202% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings for Rice Energy and SM Energy, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Rice Energy 0 18 5 0 2.22
SM Energy 0 7 8 0 2.53

Rice Energy currently has a consensus target price of $27.58, suggesting a potential downside of 5.92%. SM Energy has a consensus target price of $28.15, suggesting a potential upside of 4.90%. Given SM Energy’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe SM Energy is more favorable than Rice Energy.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

87.2% of Rice Energy shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.4% of SM Energy shares are held by institutional investors. 1.7% of Rice Energy shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.9% of SM Energy shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Dividends

SM Energy pays an annual dividend of $0.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.4%. Rice Energy does not pay a dividend. SM Energy pays out -2.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Summary

SM Energy beats Rice Energy on 9 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

Rice Energy Company Profile

Rice Energy Inc. (Rice Energy) is an independent natural gas and oil company. The Company is engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) properties in the Appalachian Basin. The Company conducts its operations through two segments: Exploration and Production, and Midstream. The Exploration and Production segment is engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of natural gas, oil and NGLs. The Exploration and Production segment operates in the cores of the Marcellus and Utica Shales. The Company controls approximately 231,000 net acres in the Marcellus and Ohio Utica Shale cores. It operates approximately 1,164 drilling locations. The Midstream segment is engaged in the gathering and compression of natural gas, oil and NGL production of, and in the provision of water services to support the well completion activities of, Rice Energy and third parties.

SM Energy Company Profile

SM Energy Company is an independent energy company. The Company is engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of crude oil and condensate, natural gas and natural gas liquids in onshore North America. It operates in the exploration and production segment of the oil and gas industry within the United States. Its operations are concentrated in onshore operating areas in the United States, which include South Texas and Gulf Coast Region, Rocky Mountain Region and Permian Region. It has working interests in approximately 1,027 gross productive oil wells and approximately 1,882 gross productive gas wells. Its South Texas and Gulf Coast Region has both operated and non-operated Eagle Ford shale program. It has approximately 124,000 net acres in Divide County, North Dakota, and approximately 156,000 net acres in the Powder River Basin. Its Permian Region closed multiple transactions in the Midland Basin in west Texas acquiring approximately 62,000 net acres.

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