Heritage-Crystal Clean (NASDAQ: HCCI) and Vertex Energy (NASDAQ:VTNR) are both small-cap industrial products companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their earnings, valuation, dividends, risk, profitability, analyst recommendations and institutional ownership.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for Heritage-Crystal Clean and Vertex Energy, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Heritage-Crystal Clean 0 1 4 0 2.80
Vertex Energy 0 1 0 0 2.00

Heritage-Crystal Clean currently has a consensus price target of $20.40, indicating a potential upside of 4.62%. Vertex Energy has a consensus price target of $1.00, indicating a potential upside of 25.00%. Given Vertex Energy’s higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Vertex Energy is more favorable than Heritage-Crystal Clean.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Heritage-Crystal Clean and Vertex Energy’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Heritage-Crystal Clean $355.46 million 1.24 $41.31 million $0.76 25.66
Vertex Energy $131.20 million 0.20 $447,203.00 ($0.42) -1.90

Heritage-Crystal Clean has higher revenue and earnings than Vertex Energy. Vertex Energy is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Heritage-Crystal Clean, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility & Risk

Heritage-Crystal Clean has a beta of 2.1, indicating that its stock price is 110% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Vertex Energy has a beta of 0.84, indicating that its stock price is 16% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

55.1% of Heritage-Crystal Clean shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 16.8% of Vertex Energy shares are held by institutional investors. 14.8% of Heritage-Crystal Clean shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 31.0% of Vertex Energy shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.


This table compares Heritage-Crystal Clean and Vertex Energy’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Heritage-Crystal Clean 4.92% 7.69% 5.18%
Vertex Energy -6.49% -23.10% -10.13%


Heritage-Crystal Clean beats Vertex Energy on 11 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Heritage-Crystal Clean

Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. provides full-service parts cleaning, containerized waste management, used oil collection, vacuum truck services and antifreeze recycling. The Company owns and operates a used oil re-refinery. The Company operates through two segments: Environmental Services and Oil Business. The Company provides hazardous and non-hazardous waste services to small and mid-sized customers in both the manufacturing and vehicle maintenance sectors. The Environmental Services segment consists of the Company’s parts cleaning, containerized waste management, vacuum truck services, used antifreeze recycling activities and field services. The Oil Business segment consists of used oil collection activities, sale of recycled fuel oil, re-refining activities, and oil filter removal and disposal services. Through its re-refining process, the Company recycles used oil into lubricant base oil and by-products, and it is a supplier to firms that produce and market finished lubricants.

About Vertex Energy

Vertex Energy, Inc. is an environmental services company that recycles industrial waste streams and off-specification commercial chemical products. The Company focuses on recycling used motor oil and other petroleum by-products. The Company’s segments include the Black Oil, Refining and Marketing, and Recovery divisions. The Company’s product categories include Used Motor Oil, Fuel Oil, pyrolysis gasoline (Pygas), Gasoline Blendstock and Base Oil. The Black Oil division is engaged in operations across the used motor oil recycling value chain, including collection, aggregation, transportation, storage, refinement and sales of aggregated feedstock and re-refined products to end users. The Refining and Marketing division is engaged in the aggregation of feedstock, re-refining it into end products, and selling these products to customers. The Recovery division is a provider of generator solutions for the recovery and management of hydrocarbon streams.

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