Westrock (NYSE: WRK) and International Paper (NYSE:IP) are both large-cap basic materials companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, earnings, risk, profitability, dividends, analyst recommendations and valuation.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

89.9% of Westrock shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 83.7% of International Paper shares are held by institutional investors. 2.7% of Westrock shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 0.6% of International Paper shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares Westrock and International Paper’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Westrock 2.92% 6.38% 2.68%
International Paper 3.73% 27.09% 3.61%

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings and recommmendations for Westrock and International Paper, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Westrock 0 2 8 1 2.91
International Paper 2 4 6 0 2.33

Westrock currently has a consensus target price of $62.22, suggesting a potential upside of 10.97%. International Paper has a consensus target price of $58.78, suggesting a potential upside of 8.97%. Given Westrock’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities research analysts clearly believe Westrock is more favorable than International Paper.

Risk & Volatility

Westrock has a beta of 1.37, meaning that its share price is 37% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, International Paper has a beta of 1.46, meaning that its share price is 46% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

Westrock pays an annual dividend of $1.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.9%. International Paper pays an annual dividend of $1.85 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.4%. Westrock pays out 97.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. International Paper pays out 93.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. International Paper has increased its dividend for 5 consecutive years. International Paper is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Westrock and International Paper’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Westrock $14.41 billion 0.98 $2.12 billion $1.64 34.19
International Paper $21.93 billion 1.02 $3.22 billion $1.97 27.38

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

Summary

International Paper beats Westrock on 11 of the 18 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Westrock

WestRock Company, incorporated on March 6, 2015, is a multinational provider of paper and packaging solutions for consumer and corrugated packaging markets. The Company also develops real estate in the Charleston, South Carolina region. The Company’s segments include Corrugated Packaging, Consumer Packaging, and Land and Development. The Corrugated Packaging segment consists of its containerboard mill and corrugated packaging operations, as well as its recycling operations. The Consumer Packaging segment consists of consumer mills, folding carton, beverage, merchandising displays, and partition operations. The Land and Development segment is engaged in the development and sale of real estate primarily in Charleston, South Carolina.

About International Paper

International Paper Company is a paper and packaging company with primary markets and manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Company’s segments include Industrial Packaging, Global Cellulose Fibers, Printing Papers and Consumer Packaging. The Company is a manufacturer of containerboard in the United States. Its products include linerboard, medium, whitetop, recycled linerboard, recycled medium and saturating kraft. The Company’s cellulose fibers product portfolio includes fluff, market and specialty pulps. The Company is a producer of printing and writing papers. The products in Printing Papers segment include uncoated papers. The Company is a producer of solid bleached sulfate board. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated 29 pulp, paper and packaging mills, 170 converting and packaging plants, 16 recycling plants and three bag facilities in the United States.

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