Communications Systems (NASDAQ: JCS) and Plantronics (NYSE:PLT) are both small-cap computer and technology companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, dividends, profitability, analyst recommendations, valuation, earnings and institutional ownership.

Profitability

This table compares Communications Systems and Plantronics’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Communications Systems -9.55% -14.44% -12.11%
Plantronics 9.40% 21.31% 7.81%

Dividends

Communications Systems pays an annual dividend of $0.16 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.8%. Plantronics pays an annual dividend of $0.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.4%. Communications Systems pays out -16.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Plantronics pays out 24.3% 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. Communications Systems is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Communications Systems and Plantronics’ revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Communications Systems $91.24 million 0.42 -$1.87 million ($0.98) -4.34
Plantronics $862.00 million 1.67 $138.73 million $2.47 17.90

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

Volatility and Risk

Communications Systems has a beta of 1.03, indicating that its stock price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Plantronics has a beta of 1.26, indicating that its stock price is 26% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

31.8% of Communications Systems shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 91.2% of Plantronics shares are owned by institutional investors. 17.5% of Communications Systems shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 3.2% of Plantronics shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current recommendations for Communications Systems and Plantronics, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Communications Systems 0 0 1 0 3.00
Plantronics 0 1 2 0 2.67

Communications Systems presently has a consensus price target of $6.00, indicating a potential upside of 41.01%. Plantronics has a consensus price target of $60.00, indicating a potential upside of 35.69%. Given Communications Systems’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts clearly believe Communications Systems is more favorable than Plantronics.

Summary

Plantronics beats Communications Systems on 10 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Communications Systems

Communications Systems, Inc. (CSI) operates directly and through its subsidiaries located in the United States, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. The Company operates through three segments: Suttle, Transition Networks and JDL Technologies (JDL). The Company provides physical connectivity infrastructure products and services for global deployments of broadband networks. The Company is principally engaged through its subsidiary and business unit, Suttle, Inc., in the manufacture and sale of connectivity infrastructure products for broadband and voice communications, and through its another subsidiary and business unit, Transition Networks, Inc., in the manufacture and sale of core media conversion products for broadband networks. Through its JDL Technologies, Inc. subsidiary and business unit, CSI provides information technology (IT) solutions, including network design, computer infrastructure installations, IT service management, network security and network operation services.

About Plantronics

Plantronics, Inc. (Plantronics) is engaged in the design, manufacture, and distribution of headsets for business and consumer applications, and other specialty products for the hearing impaired. The Company is a global designer, manufacturer and marketer of communications headsets, telephone headset systems, other communication endpoints and accessories for the business and consumer markets. The Company develops communication products for offices and contact centers, mobile devices, cordless phones, and computers and gaming consoles. Its product categories include Enterprise, which includes corded and cordless communication headsets, audio processors, and telephone systems, and Consumer, which includes Bluetooth and corded products for mobile device applications, personal computer (PC) and gaming headsets, and specialty products marketed for hearing impaired individuals. It offers its products under two brands: Plantronics and Clarity.

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