Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD) and Universal Logistics Holdings (NYSE:ULH) are both transportation companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, risk, valuation, dividends, earnings, profitability and institutional ownership.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

60.9% of Heartland Express shares are owned by institutional investors. 42.1% of Heartland Express shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Heartland Express and Universal Logistics Holdings’ top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Heartland Express $548.88 million 3.81 $165.30 million $0.66 38.06
Universal Logistics Holdings $1.13 billion 0.52 $72.35 million N/A N/A

Heartland Express has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Universal Logistics Holdings.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and target prices for Heartland Express and Universal Logistics Holdings, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Heartland Express 1 4 1 0 2.00
Universal Logistics Holdings 0 1 1 0 2.50

Heartland Express presently has a consensus price target of $23.33, suggesting a potential downside of 7.11%. Universal Logistics Holdings has a consensus price target of $24.00, suggesting a potential upside of 16.79%. Given Universal Logistics Holdings’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Universal Logistics Holdings is more favorable than Heartland Express.

Profitability

This table compares Heartland Express and Universal Logistics Holdings’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Heartland Express 9.89% 10.60% 7.28%
Universal Logistics Holdings 0.90% 7.26% 1.86%

Dividends

Heartland Express pays an annual dividend of $0.08 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.3%. Universal Logistics Holdings does not pay a dividend. Heartland Express pays out 12.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Summary

Heartland Express beats Universal Logistics Holdings on 8 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Heartland Express

Heartland Express, Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier. The Company focuses primarily on short- to medium-haul, asset-based dry van truckload services in regional markets near its terminals. The Company’s truckload services are primarily asset-based transportation services in the dry van truckload market, and it also offers truckload temperature-controlled transportation services and non-asset based brokerage services. All tractors are equipped with mobile communication systems. Its primary customers include retailers and manufacturers. It provides nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for shippers from Washington to Florida and New England to California. The Company provides truckload services across the United States and parts of Canada. As of December 31, 2016, it had operated 20 terminal facilities throughout the contiguous United States in addition to its terminal and corporate headquarters in North Liberty, Iowa.

About Universal Logistics Holdings

Universal Logistics Holdings, Inc., formerly Universal Truckload Services, Inc., is an asset-light provider of customized transportation and logistics solutions across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Colombia. The Company operates through two segments: the transportation segment and the logistics segment. The Company’s operations aggregated in the transportation segment are associated with individual freight shipments coordinated by its agents, company-managed terminals and specialized services operations. The Company’s operations aggregated in the logistics segment deliver value-added services and transportation services to specific customers. Its other operating segments consist of the Company’s subsidiaries that provide support services to other subsidiaries and to owner-operators, including shop maintenance and equipment leasing. The Company groups its services into three service categories: transportation, value-added and intermodal support.

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