CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and BT Group PLC (NYSE:BT) are both large-cap computer and technology companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, profitability, risk, earnings, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership and valuation.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

83.0% of CenturyLink shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 1.0% of BT Group PLC shares are held by institutional investors. 0.6% of CenturyLink 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.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for CenturyLink and BT Group PLC, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
CenturyLink 3 7 4 0 2.07
BT Group PLC 3 8 7 0 2.22

CenturyLink presently has a consensus target price of $24.67, indicating a potential upside of 21.81%. BT Group PLC has a consensus target price of $352.35, indicating a potential upside of 1,795.39%. Given BT Group PLC’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe BT Group PLC is more favorable than CenturyLink.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares CenturyLink and BT Group PLC’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
CenturyLink $16.97 billion 0.66 $6.06 billion $0.69 29.35
BT Group PLC $31.83 billion 1.16 $9.05 billion $1.04 17.88

BT Group PLC has higher revenue and earnings than CenturyLink. BT Group PLC is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than CenturyLink, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares CenturyLink and BT Group PLC’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
CenturyLink 2.20% 8.43% 2.36%
BT Group PLC 7.14% 39.24% 6.77%

Volatility and Risk

CenturyLink has a beta of 0.89, suggesting that its share price is 11% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, BT Group PLC has a beta of 1.04, suggesting that its share price is 4% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

CenturyLink pays an annual dividend of $2.16 per share and has a dividend yield of 10.7%. BT Group PLC pays an annual dividend of $0.95 per share and has a dividend yield of 5.1%. CenturyLink pays out 313.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. BT Group PLC pays out 91.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. BT Group PLC has raised its dividend for 5 consecutive years.

Summary

BT Group PLC beats CenturyLink on 14 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About CenturyLink

CenturyLink, Inc. is an integrated communications company. The Company is engaged in providing an array of communications services to its residential and business customers. Its segments include business, which provides strategic, legacy and data integration products and services to small, medium and enterprise business, wholesale and governmental customers, including other communication providers, and consumer, which provides strategic and legacy products and services to residential customers. Its communications services include local and long-distance voice, broadband, Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), private line (including special access), Ethernet, colocation, hosting (including cloud hosting and managed hosting), data integration, video, network, public access, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), information technology and other ancillary services. As of December 31, 2016, it served approximately 5.9 million broadband subscribers and 325,000 Prism TV subscribers.

About BT Group PLC

BT Group plc is a communications services company. The Company is engaged in selling fixed-voice services, broadband, mobile and television products and services, as well as managed networked information technology (IT) solutions and cyber security protection. Its segments include Consumer, which provides fixed-voice, broadband, TV and mobile services; EE, which is a mobile network operator in the United Kingdom and provides mobile and fixed communications services to consumers; Business and Public Sector, which provides communications and IT services to businesses and the public sector in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (RoI) ;Global Services, which provides managed networked IT services to corporate customers; Wholesale and Ventures, which provides fixed and mobile services to communications providers (CPs); and Openreach, which provides copper and fiber connections between its exchanges and homes and businesses.

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