Burlington Stores (NYSE: BURL) and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) are both mid-cap retail/wholesale companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their earnings, institutional ownership, dividends, risk, valuation, profitability and analyst recommendations.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Burlington Stores and Costco Wholesale Corporation, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Burlington Stores 0 3 12 0 2.80
Costco Wholesale Corporation 0 8 19 0 2.70

Burlington Stores presently has a consensus target price of $105.38, suggesting a potential upside of 17.38%. Costco Wholesale Corporation has a consensus target price of $178.83, suggesting a potential upside of 10.87%. Given Burlington Stores’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities analysts clearly believe Burlington Stores is more favorable than Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Profitability

This table compares Burlington Stores and Costco Wholesale Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Burlington Stores 4.46% -330.30% 10.19%
Costco Wholesale Corporation 2.06% 20.45% 6.88%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

72.4% of Costco Wholesale Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 2.6% of Burlington Stores shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.7% of Costco Wholesale Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Dividends

Costco Wholesale Corporation pays an annual dividend of $2.00 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.2%. Burlington Stores does not pay a dividend. Costco Wholesale Corporation pays out 34.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Burlington Stores has increased its dividend for 13 consecutive years.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Burlington Stores and Costco Wholesale Corporation’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Burlington Stores $5.75 billion 1.06 $599.05 million $3.61 24.87
Costco Wholesale Corporation $123.28 billion 0.57 $5.19 billion $5.77 27.95

Costco Wholesale Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Burlington Stores. Burlington Stores is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Costco Wholesale Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Risk & Volatility

Burlington Stores has a beta of 0.51, meaning that its stock price is 49% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Costco Wholesale Corporation has a beta of 0.93, meaning that its stock price is 7% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Costco Wholesale Corporation beats Burlington Stores on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Burlington Stores

Burlington Stores, Inc. is a retailer of branded apparel. As of January 28, 2017, the Company operated 592 retail stores, inclusive of an Internet store, in 45 states and Puerto Rico. Its product categories include coats, women, men, juniors, girls, boys, shoes, handbags and accessories, beauty and fragrance, home and toys. The product categories for coats include women’s coats and jackets, men’s coats and jackets, juniors coats and jackets, girls coats and jackets, boy’s coats and jackets, baby girl coats and jackets, and baby boy coats and jackets. The product categories for women include active wear, bottoms, coats and jackets, dresses, tops, scrubs, suit and suit separates, sweaters, swimwear and cover-ups. It also includes accessories, beauty and fragrance, handbags, jewelry, shoes and watches. The product categories for men include accessories, active wear, casual button down shirts, dress shirts, men’s coats jackets, fleece, graphic tees, hoodies and sweatshirts, and jeans.

About Costco Wholesale Corporation

Costco Wholesale Corporation is engaged in the operation of membership warehouses in the United States and Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Spain, and through its subsidiaries in Taiwan and Korea. As of August 28, 2016, the Company operated 715 warehouses across the world. The Company’s average warehouse space is approximately 144,000 square feet. The Company’s warehouses on average operate on a seven-day, 70-hour week. The Company offers merchandise in various categories, which include foods (including dry foods, packaged foods and groceries); sundries (including snack foods, candy, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning supplies); hardlines (including appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio); fresh foods (including meat, produce, deli and bakery); softlines (including apparel and small appliances), and other (including gas stations and pharmacy).

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