China Southern Airlines Company Limited (NYSE: ZNH) and SkyWest (NASDAQ:SKYW) are both mid-cap transportation companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, dividends, valuation, analyst recommendations, earnings, profitability and institutional ownership.

Profitability

This table compares China Southern Airlines Company Limited and SkyWest’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
China Southern Airlines Company Limited N/A N/A N/A
SkyWest -4.59% 11.10% 3.06%

Risk and Volatility

China Southern Airlines Company Limited has a beta of 1.09, indicating that its stock price is 9% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, SkyWest has a beta of 1.68, indicating that its stock price is 68% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

0.5% of China Southern Airlines Company Limited shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 89.4% of SkyWest shares are held by institutional investors. 3.5% of SkyWest shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares China Southern Airlines Company Limited and SkyWest’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
China Southern Airlines Company Limited $18.53 billion 0.37 $3.04 billion N/A N/A
SkyWest $3.13 billion 0.78 $618.51 million ($2.83) -16.54

China Southern Airlines Company Limited has higher revenue and earnings than SkyWest.

Dividends

China Southern Airlines Company Limited pays an annual dividend of $0.64 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.8%. SkyWest pays an annual dividend of $0.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.7%. SkyWest pays out -11.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. China Southern Airlines Company Limited has increased its dividend for 2 consecutive years. China Southern Airlines Company Limited is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings for China Southern Airlines Company Limited and SkyWest, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
China Southern Airlines Company Limited 1 0 0 0 1.00
SkyWest 0 2 2 1 2.80

SkyWest has a consensus target price of $43.50, suggesting a potential downside of 7.05%. Given SkyWest’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe SkyWest is more favorable than China Southern Airlines Company Limited.

Summary

SkyWest beats China Southern Airlines Company Limited on 11 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

About China Southern Airlines Company Limited

China Southern Airlines Company Limited is principally engaged in the operation of civil aviation, including the provision of passenger, cargo, mail delivery and other extended transportation services. The Company operates through two business segments, including Airline Transportation segment and Other segment. Airline Transportation segment consist of passenger and cargo and mail operations. Other segment includes hotel and tour operation, ground services, cargo handling and other miscellaneous services. . The Company also provides services of general aviation and aircraft maintenance. The Company acts as an agency of domestic and foreign airlines, and other aviation and related business, such as personal accident insurance and agency business.

About SkyWest

SkyWest, Inc., through its subsidiaries, SkyWest Airlines, Inc. (SkyWest Airlines) and ExpressJet Airlines, Inc. (ExpressJet), operates regional airline operations in the United States. The Company’s segments include SkyWest Airlines, ExpressJet and SkyWest Leasing. The SkyWest Airlines segment provides regional jet service to airports primarily located in the Midwestern and Western United States, as well as Mexico and Canada. The ExpressJet segment provides regional jet service to airports primarily located in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, as well as Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. The SkyWest Leasing segment includes its E175 aircraft ownership business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company offered scheduled passenger service with approximately 3,160 daily departures to destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The Company’s flights are operated as Delta Connection, United Express, American Eagle or Alaska Airlines.

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