Essendant (NASDAQ: ESND) and Intersections (NASDAQ:INTX) are both small-cap consumer discretionary companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, analyst recommendations, valuation, institutional ownership, risk, earnings and dividends.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Essendant and Intersections, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Essendant 0 2 0 0 2.00
Intersections 0 0 0 0 N/A

Essendant presently has a consensus target price of $16.50, suggesting a potential upside of 30.13%. Given Essendant’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Essendant is more favorable than Intersections.

Dividends

Essendant pays an annual dividend of $0.56 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.4%. Intersections does not pay a dividend. Essendant pays out -13.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Volatility and Risk

Essendant has a beta of 1.17, suggesting that its stock price is 17% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Intersections has a beta of 0.72, suggesting that its stock price is 28% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

94.1% of Essendant shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 25.2% of Intersections shares are held by institutional investors. 1.6% of Essendant shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 67.0% of Intersections shares are held by company 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 Essendant and Intersections’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Essendant -2.87% 5.75% 1.93%
Intersections -19.25% -421.25% -56.54%

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Essendant and Intersections’ top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Essendant $5.19 billion 0.09 $147.50 million ($4.08) -3.11
Intersections $165.65 million 0.49 -$18.41 million ($1.35) -2.50

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

Summary

Essendant beats Intersections on 10 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

Essendant Company Profile

Essendant Inc. (Essendant) is a wholesale distributor of workplace items. The Company’s product portfolio includes Janitorial, Foodservice and Breakroom Supplies (JanSan), Technology Products, Traditional Office Products, Industrial Supplies, Cut Sheet Paper Products, Automotive Products and Office Furniture. It operates principally within the United States, with additional operations in Canada and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As of December 31, 2016, the Company provided access to over 22,000 items in these lines: janitorial supplies (cleaners and cleaning accessories), breakroom items (food and beverage products), foodservice consumables (such as disposable cups, plates and utensils), safety and security items, and paper and packaging supplies. As of December 31, 2016, the Company provided access to approximately 11,000 items, including imaging supplies, data storage, digital cameras, computer accessories and computer hardware items, such as printers and other peripherals.

Intersections Company Profile

Intersections Inc. uses data to enable consumers reduce risk through subscription services. The Company’s operating segments include Personal Information Services, Insurance and Other Consumer Services, and Bail Bonds Industry Solutions. The Company’s Personal Information Services business segment focuses on helping consumers understand, monitor, manage and protect against the risks associated with third parties misusing their personal information and violating their privacy. The Company’s Insurance and Other Consumer Services business segment focuses on helping consumers use insurance and other services to manage various personal risks and achieve personal goals. The Company’s Bail Bonds Industry Solutions business segment focuses on automating the bail bonds industry. The Company offers IDENTITY GUARD portfolio of services. The Company’s insurance products are sold and administered pursuant to contracts with insurance companies.

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