Automatic Data Processing (NYSE: ADP) and F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV) are both mid-cap technology companies, but which is the superior stock? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, earnings, risk, analyst recommendations, profitability, dividends and valuation.

Profitability

This table compares Automatic Data Processing and F5 Networks’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Automatic Data Processing 17.24% 59.56% 5.62%
F5 Networks 18.96% 33.85% 16.98%

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Automatic Data Processing and F5 Networks’ revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Automatic Data Processing $12.38 billion 3.91 $2.72 billion N/A N/A
F5 Networks $2.08 billion 3.60 $627.75 million $6.03 19.54

Automatic Data Processing has higher revenue and earnings than F5 Networks.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

96.9% of F5 Networks shares are held by institutional investors. 0.3% of F5 Networks 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 Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations and price targets for Automatic Data Processing and F5 Networks, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Automatic Data Processing 2 9 1 0 1.92
F5 Networks 1 14 4 0 2.16

Automatic Data Processing currently has a consensus price target of $103.10, indicating a potential downside of 5.25%. F5 Networks has a consensus price target of $129.07, indicating a potential upside of 9.55%. Given F5 Networks’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe F5 Networks is more favorable than Automatic Data Processing.

Summary

F5 Networks beats Automatic Data Processing on 7 of the 12 factors compared between the two stocks.

Automatic Data Processing Company Profile

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) is a provider of human capital management (HCM) solutions to employers, offering solutions to businesses of various sizes. The Company also provides business process outsourcing solutions. Its segments include Employer Services and Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Services. The Employer Services segment offers a range of human resources (HR) business process outsourcing and technology-enabled HCM solutions. These offerings include payroll services, benefits administration, talent management, HR management, time and attendance management, insurance services, retirement services, and tax and compliance services. ADP TotalSource, ADP’s PEO business, offers small and mid-sized businesses a HR outsourcing solution through a co-employment model. As a PEO, ADP TotalSource provides HR management services while the client continues to direct the day-to-day job-related duties of the employees.

F5 Networks Company Profile

F5 Networks, Inc. is a developer and provider of software defined application services. The Company is engaged in the development, marketing and sale of application delivery networking products that optimize the security, performance and availability of network applications, servers and storage systems. The Company’s geographical segments include the Americas (primarily the United States); Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Japan, and the Asia Pacific region (APAC). The Company’s Traffic Management Operating System (TMOS) based offerings include software products for local and global traffic management, network and application security, access management, Web acceleration and various network and application services. These products are available as modules that can run individually or as part of an integrated solution on the Company’s purpose-built BIG-IP appliances and VIPRION chassis-based hardware, or as software-only Virtual Editions.

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