Nelnet (NYSE: NNI) and ICF International (NASDAQ:ICFI) are both finance companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, profitability, dividends, institutional ownership, valuation, analyst recommendations and earnings.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

40.9% of Nelnet shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 90.3% of ICF International shares are owned by institutional investors. 45.4% of Nelnet shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 5.5% of ICF International shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.


Nelnet pays an annual dividend of $0.56 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. ICF International does not pay a dividend. Nelnet pays out 9.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Nelnet and ICF International’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Nelnet $861.56 million 1.79 $185.19 million $6.16 8.35
ICF International $1.20 billion 0.87 $115.22 million $2.50 22.20

Nelnet has higher revenue, but lower earnings than ICF International. Nelnet is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ICF International, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility and Risk

Nelnet has a beta of 1, meaning that its share price has a similar volatility profile to the S&P 500.Comparatively, ICF International has a beta of 0.89, meaning that its share price is 11% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations and price targets for Nelnet and ICF International, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Nelnet 0 2 0 0 2.00
ICF International 0 2 3 0 2.60

Nelnet presently has a consensus target price of $50.00, suggesting a potential downside of 2.78%. ICF International has a consensus target price of $60.67, suggesting a potential upside of 9.31%. Given ICF International’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe ICF International is more favorable than Nelnet.


This table compares Nelnet and ICF International’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Nelnet 20.19% 9.65% 0.75%
ICF International 4.02% 10.25% 5.29%


ICF International beats Nelnet on 9 of the 16 factors compared between the two stocks.

Nelnet Company Profile

Nelnet, Inc. focuses on delivering education-related products and services and student loan asset management. The Company is engaged in student loan servicing, tuition payment processing and school information systems, and communications. The Company’s segments include Loan Systems and Servicing, Tuition Payment Processing and Campus Commerce, Communications, Asset Generation and Management, and Corporate and Other Activities. The Company earns fee-based revenue through its Loan Systems and Servicing, Tuition Payment Processing, and Communications operating segments. In addition, the Company earns interest income on its student loan portfolio in its Asset Generation and Management operating segment. Corporate and Other Activities include real estate and other investments. The Company, through Allo Communications LLC, is engaged in the sale of advanced telecommunication services, including Internet, broadband, telephone, and television services.

ICF International Company Profile

ICF International, Inc. provides professional services and technology-based solutions to government and commercial clients, including management, technology, and policy consulting and implementation services. The Company’s services address four markets: energy, environment and infrastructure; health, education and social programs; safety and security, and consumer and financial. Its services include research and analytic services, assessment and advisory services, design and management services, solution identification and implementation services, and engagement services. The Company researches policy, industry and stakeholder issues, trends and behavior. The Company collects and analyzes various data to understand issues and options for its clients. The Company measures and evaluates results and their impact and, based on those assessments, the Company provides advice to its clients on how to navigate societal, market, business, communication and technology challenges.

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