China Distance Education (NYSE: DL) and Aspen Group (NASDAQ:ASPU) are both small-cap industrials companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, dividends, institutional ownership, risk, profitability, analyst recommendations and earnings.

Dividends

China Distance Education pays an annual dividend of $0.45 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.7%. Aspen Group does not pay a dividend. China Distance Education pays out 100.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Aspen Group has raised its dividend for 2 consecutive years.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent ratings and target prices for China Distance Education and Aspen Group, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
China Distance Education 1 0 0 0 1.00
Aspen Group 0 0 1 0 3.00

Aspen Group has a consensus price target of $10.00, suggesting a potential upside of 20.63%. Given Aspen Group’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe Aspen Group is more favorable than China Distance Education.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares China Distance Education and Aspen Group’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
China Distance Education $130.99 million 2.43 $14.94 million $0.45 21.42
Aspen Group $14.25 million 8.67 -$1.10 million ($0.11) -75.36

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

Insider & Institutional Ownership

19.5% of China Distance Education shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 6.5% of Aspen Group shares are held by institutional investors. 15.3% of Aspen Group shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares China Distance Education and Aspen Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
China Distance Education 11.40% 26.00% 7.91%
Aspen Group -8.69% -29.44% -14.10%

Risk and Volatility

China Distance Education has a beta of 1.62, meaning that its stock price is 62% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Aspen Group has a beta of -0.15, meaning that its stock price is 115% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

China Distance Education beats Aspen Group on 9 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

China Distance Education Company Profile

China Distance Education Holdings Limited is a holding company. The Company is engaged in providing online and offline education services, and selling related products in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Company’s segments include online education services, business start-up training services and the sale of learning simulation software. The Company primarily sells books and reference materials related to its courses, such as the various levels of Accounting Professional Qualification Examinations, accounting continuing education, the National Practicing Medical Doctor Qualification Examination, the National Pharmacist Qualification Examination, and Associate Constructor and Constructor Qualification Examinations. It offers college oriented online-to-offline products and services, business start-up training courses and others. The Company had a content library with 263 course offerings of audio-video content, as of September 30, 2016.

Aspen Group Company Profile

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.

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