W.W. Grainger (NYSE: GWW) and Crane (NYSE:CR) are both mid-cap industrial products companies, but which is the better stock? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their institutional ownership, profitability, dividends, valuation, analyst recommendations, risk and earnings.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares W.W. Grainger and Crane’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
W.W. Grainger $10.22 billion 1.03 $1.40 billion $8.66 21.06
Crane $2.75 billion 1.79 $482.00 million $2.17 38.03

W.W. Grainger has higher revenue and earnings than Crane. W.W. Grainger is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Crane, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Dividends

W.W. Grainger pays an annual dividend of $5.12 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.8%. Crane pays an annual dividend of $1.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.6%. W.W. Grainger pays out 59.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Crane pays out 60.8% 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. Crane has raised its dividend for 45 consecutive years. W.W. Grainger is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Profitability

This table compares W.W. Grainger and Crane’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
W.W. Grainger 5.08% 34.03% 11.48%
Crane 4.79% 20.57% 7.49%

Institutional and Insider Ownership

80.5% of W.W. Grainger shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 69.4% of Crane shares are held by institutional investors. 9.6% of W.W. Grainger shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 3.1% of Crane shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current recommendations and price targets for W.W. Grainger and Crane, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
W.W. Grainger 4 9 0 0 1.69
Crane 0 5 7 0 2.58

W.W. Grainger presently has a consensus target price of $178.09, indicating a potential downside of 2.34%. Crane has a consensus target price of $74.43, indicating a potential downside of 9.82%. Given W.W. Grainger’s higher possible upside, research analysts plainly believe W.W. Grainger is more favorable than Crane.

Volatility & Risk

W.W. Grainger has a beta of 0.76, indicating that its stock price is 24% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Crane has a beta of 1.11, indicating that its stock price is 11% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

W.W. Grainger beats Crane on 11 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About W.W. Grainger

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (Grainger) is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies and other related products and services. The Company offers its products and services to businesses and institutions in the United States and Canada, with presence also in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The Company operates through two segments, which include the United States and Canada. The Company’s business support functions provide coordination and guidance in the areas of accounting and finance, business development, communications and investor relations, compensation and benefits, information systems, health and safety, global supply chain functions, human resources, risk management, internal audit, legal, real estate, security, tax and treasury. The Company’s other businesses also include Zoro Tools, Inc. (Zoro), the single channel online business in the United States, MonotaRO Co. (MonotaRO) in Japan, and operations in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

About Crane

Crane Co. (Crane) is a manufacturer of engineered industrial products. The Company operates through four segments, including Fluid Handling, Payment & Merchandising Technologies, Aerospace & Electronics, and Engineered Materials. The Fluid Handling segment is a provider of engineered fluid handling equipment, including Process Valves and Related Products, Commercial Valves and Other Products. The Payment & Merchandising Technologies segment includes Crane Payment Innovations (CPI) and Merchandising Systems. The Aerospace & Electronics segment supplies various components and systems, including original equipment and aftermarket parts, primarily for the commercial aerospace and military aerospace, and defense markets. The Engineered Materials segment manufactures fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) panels and coils, primarily for use in the manufacturing of recreational vehicles (RVs), truck bodies, truck trailers, with additional applications in commercial and industrial buildings.

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