C.H. Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ: CHRW) and Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE:NSC) are both large-cap transportation companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, risk, earnings, analyst recommendations, dividends, institutional ownership and profitability.

Profitability

This table compares C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Norfolk Souther Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
C.H. Robinson Worldwide 3.31% 36.06% 12.17%
Norfolk Souther Corporation 17.86% 14.72% 5.29%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

89.2% of C.H. Robinson Worldwide shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 70.6% of Norfolk Souther Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. 0.9% of C.H. Robinson Worldwide shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.4% of Norfolk Souther Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Dividends

C.H. Robinson Worldwide pays an annual dividend of $1.80 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.3%. Norfolk Souther Corporation pays an annual dividend of $2.44 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.9%. C.H. Robinson Worldwide pays out 53.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Norfolk Souther Corporation pays out 38.4% 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. C.H. Robinson Worldwide has raised its dividend for 10 consecutive years and Norfolk Souther Corporation has raised its dividend for 7 consecutive years. C.H. Robinson Worldwide is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Volatility & Risk

C.H. Robinson Worldwide has a beta of 0.44, indicating that its stock price is 56% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Norfolk Souther Corporation has a beta of 1.37, indicating that its stock price is 37% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Norfolk Souther Corporation’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
C.H. Robinson Worldwide $13.14 billion 0.85 $513.38 million $3.35 23.71
Norfolk Souther Corporation $9.89 billion 3.77 $1.67 billion $6.36 20.50

Norfolk Souther Corporation has higher revenue, but lower earnings than C.H. Robinson Worldwide. Norfolk Souther Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than C.H. Robinson Worldwide, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and target prices for C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Norfolk Souther Corporation, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
C.H. Robinson Worldwide 3 7 5 0 2.13
Norfolk Souther Corporation 3 15 5 0 2.09

C.H. Robinson Worldwide presently has a consensus price target of $76.57, suggesting a potential downside of 3.61%. Norfolk Souther Corporation has a consensus price target of $124.53, suggesting a potential downside of 4.47%. Given C.H. Robinson Worldwide’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe C.H. Robinson Worldwide is more favorable than Norfolk Souther Corporation.

Summary

C.H. Robinson Worldwide beats Norfolk Souther Corporation on 10 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Company Profile

C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. is a provider of transportation services and logistics solutions through a network of offices operating in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America. The Company’s segments include North American Surface Transportation (NAST), Global Forwarding, Robinson Fresh, and All Other and Corporate. The NAST segment provides freight transportation services across North America through a network of offices in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The primary services provided by Global Forwarding segment include ocean freight services, air freight services, and customs brokerage. The Robinson Fresh segment provides sourcing under the trade name Robinson Fresh. The All Other and Corporate segment primarily consists of Managed Services and Other Surface Transportation outside of North America. It develops global transportation and distribution networks to provide transportation and supply chain services throughout the world.

Norfolk Souther Corporation Company Profile

Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest. The Company, through interchange with rail carriers, to and from the rest of the United States. The Company also transports overseas freight through various Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. It provides logistics services and offers the intermodal network in the eastern half of the United States. The Company’s system reaches various manufacturing plants, electric generating facilities, mines, distribution centers and other businesses located in its service area. The Company’s intermodal market group consists of shipments moving in trailers, domestic and international containers, and RoadRailer equipment.

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