Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI) and National Instruments (NASDAQ:NATI) are both mid-cap computer and technology companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their earnings, profitability, analyst recommendations, valuation, institutional ownership, risk and dividends.

Volatility and Risk

Cogent Communications has a beta of 0.59, indicating that its stock price is 41% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, National Instruments has a beta of 1.03, indicating that its stock price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Cogent Communications and National Instruments’ gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Cogent Communications $485.17 million 4.66 $5.87 million $0.38 128.18
National Instruments $1.29 billion 4.48 $52.41 million $0.94 46.51

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

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and recommmendations for Cogent Communications and National Instruments, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Cogent Communications 3 6 2 0 1.91
National Instruments 0 1 1 0 2.50

Cogent Communications currently has a consensus target price of $47.14, indicating a potential downside of 3.22%. National Instruments has a consensus target price of $48.00, indicating a potential upside of 9.79%. Given National Instruments’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe National Instruments is more favorable than Cogent Communications.

Dividends

Cogent Communications pays an annual dividend of $2.16 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.4%. National Instruments pays an annual dividend of $0.92 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.1%. Cogent Communications pays out 568.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. National Instruments pays out 97.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Cogent Communications has increased its dividend for 6 consecutive years and National Instruments has increased its dividend for 4 consecutive years. Cogent Communications is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

90.4% of Cogent Communications shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 77.1% of National Instruments shares are owned by institutional investors. 10.2% of Cogent Communications shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 8.0% of National Instruments shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares Cogent Communications and National Instruments’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Cogent Communications 2.13% -22.38% 3.09%
National Instruments 4.87% 12.55% 9.20%

Summary

National Instruments beats Cogent Communications on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Cogent Communications

Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides high-speed Internet access and Internet protocol communications services primarily to small and medium-sized businesses, communications service providers, and other bandwidth-intensive organizations in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company offers on-net Internet access services to bandwidth-intensive users, such as universities, other Internet service providers, telephone companies, cable television companies, Web hosting companies, content delivery network companies, and commercial content and application service providers; and to corporate customers located in multi-tenant office buildings, including law firms, financial services firms, advertising and marketing firms, and other professional services businesses. It also provides its on-net services in carrier-neutral data centers, Cogent controlled data centers, and single-tenant office buildings. In addition, the company offers off-net services to businesses that are connected to its network primarily by means of ?last mile' access service lines obtained from other carriers primarily in the form of metropolitan Ethernet circuits. Further, it provides Internet connectivity to customers that are not located in buildings directly connected to the company's network, as well as offers voice services. The company operates 53 data centers. Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Washington, the District of Columbia.

About National Instruments

National Instruments Corporation designs, manufactures, and sells systems to engineers and scientists worldwide. It offers LabVIEW, a system design software for measurement, automation, and control; LabVIEW Real-Time and LabVIEW FPGA, which are software add-ons to LabVIEW; LabVIEW Communications System Design Suite for wireless prototyping; LabWindows/CVI for creating test and control applications; and Measurement Studio consisting of measurement and automation add-on libraries, and additional tools for programmers. The company also provides software products, such as NI TestStand to test and measure applications in a manufacturing environment; NI VeriStand software to configure real-time testing applications; NI DIAdem, which provides technical data management, analysis, and report generation tools; NI InsightCM Enterprise for monitoring critical and ancillary rotating equipment; NI Multisim circuit design software; and NI SystemLink, a systems management software. In addition, it offers hardware products and related driver software, such as data acquisition, PXI chassis and controllers, modular instruments, image acquisition, motion control, distributed I/O, industrial communications interfaces, general purpose interface bus interfaces, embedded control hardware/software, and VME extension for instrumentation controllers. Further, the company provides NI semiconductor test systems; NI education platform comprising software, hardware, and courseware for students; software and hardware products for teaching; hardware and software maintenance services; and training and certification services. It serves advanced research, automotive, automated test equipment, consumer electronics, commercial aerospace, computers and electronics, continuous process manufacturing, education, government/defense, medical research/pharmaceutical, power/energy, semiconductors, and telecommunications industries. The company was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

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