Copa Holdings, (NYSE: CPA) and United Continental Holdings (NYSE:UAL) are both mid-cap transportation companies, but which is the superior stock? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, institutional ownership, dividends, profitability, analyst recommendations, earnings and valuation.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

64.3% of Copa Holdings, shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.7% of United Continental Holdings shares are held by institutional investors. 0.3% of United Continental Holdings 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.

Profitability

This table compares Copa Holdings, and United Continental Holdings’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Copa Holdings, 14.17% 14.98% 7.17%
United Continental Holdings 6.09% 29.46% 6.17%

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current ratings for Copa Holdings, and United Continental Holdings, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Copa Holdings, 0 4 7 0 2.64
United Continental Holdings 0 8 8 0 2.50

Copa Holdings, presently has a consensus target price of $108.80, indicating a potential downside of 10.28%. United Continental Holdings has a consensus target price of $85.85, indicating a potential upside of 35.94%. Given United Continental Holdings’ higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe United Continental Holdings is more favorable than Copa Holdings,.

Dividends

Copa Holdings, pays an annual dividend of $2.04 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.7%. United Continental Holdings does not pay a dividend. Copa Holdings, pays out 25.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Volatility & Risk

Copa Holdings, has a beta of 1.8, suggesting that its stock price is 80% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, United Continental Holdings has a beta of 1.03, suggesting that its stock price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Copa Holdings, and United Continental Holdings’ top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Copa Holdings, $2.37 billion 2.17 $518.91 million $7.91 15.33
United Continental Holdings $37.38 billion 0.51 $6.37 billion $7.23 8.73

United Continental Holdings has higher revenue and earnings than Copa Holdings,. United Continental Holdings is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Copa Holdings,, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Copa Holdings, Company Profile

Copa Holdings, S.A. is a provider of airline passenger and cargo service through its principal operating subsidiaries, Compania Panamena de Aviacion, S. A. (Copa Airlines) and AeroRepublica, S. A. (Copa Colombia). The Company operates through air transportation segment. Copa Airlines operates from its position located in the Republic of Panama. Copa Airlines provides international air transportation for passengers, cargo and mail, operating from its Panama City hub in the Republic of Panama. Copa Colombia provides service within Colombia and international flights from various cities in Colombia to Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Copa Colombia provides domestic and international air transportation for passengers, cargo and mail with a point-to-point route network. Its subsidiary, Oval Financial Leasing, Ltd., controls the special purpose entities that have a beneficial interest in the majority of its fleet.

United Continental Holdings Company Profile

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL) is a holding company and its principal subsidiary is United Air Lines, Inc. (United). The Company transports people and cargo through its mainline operations. It has global air rights in North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The Company, through United and its regional carriers, operates flights from its hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport (Newark Liberty), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (Chicago O’Hare), Denver International Airport (Denver), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston Bush), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), A.B. Won Pat International Airport (Guam), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Washington Dulles International Airport (Washington Dulles). It has contractual relationships with regional carriers to provide regional jet and turboprop service branded as United Express. These regional operations are an extension of the Company’s mainline network.

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