ePlus inc. (NASDAQ: PLUS) and Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) are both computer and technology companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their valuation, analyst recommendations, risk, profitability, earnings, institutional ownership and dividends.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares ePlus inc. and Palo Alto Networks’ top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
ePlus inc. $1.40 billion 0.84 $101.15 million $3.84 21.68
Palo Alto Networks $1.65 billion 8.16 -$152.80 million ($2.64) -55.56

ePlus inc. has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Palo Alto Networks. Palo Alto Networks is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ePlus inc., indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility and Risk

ePlus inc. has a beta of 1.41, suggesting that its share price is 41% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Palo Alto Networks has a beta of 1.08, suggesting that its share price is 8% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

86.9% of ePlus inc. shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 77.1% of Palo Alto Networks shares are owned by institutional investors. 3.3% of ePlus inc. shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 4.8% of Palo Alto Networks shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares ePlus inc. and Palo Alto Networks’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
ePlus inc. 3.81% 15.95% 7.42%
Palo Alto Networks -14.38% -23.77% -6.40%

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings and price targets for ePlus inc. and Palo Alto Networks, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
ePlus inc. 0 2 1 0 2.33
Palo Alto Networks 0 13 25 0 2.66

ePlus inc. currently has a consensus price target of $29.73, indicating a potential downside of 64.25%. Palo Alto Networks has a consensus price target of $156.59, indicating a potential upside of 6.76%. Given Palo Alto Networks’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Palo Alto Networks is more favorable than ePlus inc..

Summary

ePlus inc. beats Palo Alto Networks on 7 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About ePlus inc.

ePlus inc. is a holding company. The Company is engaged in the business of selling, leasing, financing and managing information technology. It operates through two segments: technology and financing. The technology segment sells information technology (IT) hardware products, third-party software and maintenance contracts, its own and third-party professional and managed services, and its software. The financing segment operations primarily consist of the financing of information technology equipment, software and related services. Both segments sell to commercial entities, state and local governments, government contractors and educational institutions. The Company is a provider of IT solutions, which enable organizations to optimize their IT environment and supply chain processes. It delivers and integrates IT products and software from various vendors, and provides private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions.

About Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. offers a next-generation security platform. The Company’s security platform consists of three elements: Next-Generation Firewall, Advanced Endpoint Protection and Threat Intelligence Cloud. Its Next-Generation Firewall delivers application, user and content visibility and control, as well as protection against network-based cyber threats integrated within the firewall through its hardware and software architecture. Its Advanced Endpoint Protection prevents cyber attacks that run malicious code or exploit software vulnerabilities on a range of fixed and virtual endpoints and servers. Its Threat Intelligence Cloud provides central intelligence capabilities, security for software as a service applications and automated delivery of preventative measures against cyber attacks. Its products and services include firewall appliances, panorama, virtual system upgrades, subscription services, support and maintenance, and professional services.

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