PICO Holdings (NASDAQ: PICO) and Ryland Group (NYSE:RYL) are both small-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, risk, analyst recommendations, dividends, earnings, profitability and institutional ownership.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares PICO Holdings and Ryland Group’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
PICO Holdings $362.58 million 1.13 -$21.86 million ($0.31) -56.93
Ryland Group N/A N/A N/A $3.26 12.52

Ryland Group has higher revenue, but lower earnings than PICO Holdings. PICO Holdings is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ryland Group, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Risk and Volatility

PICO Holdings has a beta of 1.28, meaning that its share price is 28% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Ryland Group has a beta of 1.6, meaning that its share price is 60% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares PICO Holdings and Ryland Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
PICO Holdings -4.85% -0.37% -0.26%
Ryland Group 6.52% 14.91% 5.79%

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current ratings and target prices for PICO Holdings and Ryland Group, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
PICO Holdings 0 0 0 0 N/A
Ryland Group 0 0 0 0 N/A

Insider & Institutional Ownership

70.9% of PICO Holdings shares are held by institutional investors. 4.7% of PICO Holdings 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.

Summary

Ryland Group beats PICO Holdings on 5 of the 8 factors compared between the two stocks.

About PICO Holdings

PICO Holdings, Inc. (PICO) is a holding company. The Company’s segments include Water Resource and Water Storage Operations; Real Estate Operations, and Corporate. Its subsidiary, Vidler Water Company, Inc. (Vidler), owns water resources and water storage operations in the southwestern United States, with assets and operations in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. The Real Estate Operations are conducted through UCP, Inc. (UCP), which is a homebuilder and land developer in markets located in California, Washington State, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Corporate segment includes its investments in small businesses, typically venture capital-type situations. As of December 31, 2016, the Company owned a membership interest in, and was the managing partner of, Fish Springs Ranch, LLC (FSR), which owned the Fish Springs Ranch and other properties totaling approximately 7,313 acres in Honey Lake Valley in Washoe County, approximately 40 miles north of Reno, Nevada.

About Ryland Group

The Ryland Group, Inc. is a homebuilder and a mortgage-finance company. RMC Mortgage Corporation and its subsidiaries (RMCMC) and Ryland Mortgage Company provides mortgage financing and related services for more than 255,000 homebuyers. The Company consists of six reportable segments: four geographically determined homebuilding regions; financial services, and corporate. The Company’s business is conducted and located in the United States, and its operations span all aspects of the homebuying process from design, construction and sale to mortgage origination, title and escrow services. The Company generally builds homes for entry-level buyers and first and second-time move-up buyers. The financial services segment provides mortgage-related products and services, as well as title and escrow services, to its homebuyers. Corporate is a non-operating business segment, which is engaged in supporting operations.

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