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Will Prudential Financial (PRU) Be a Suitable Value Pick?

Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Prudential Financial, Inc. PRU stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, Prudential Financial has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 11.40, as you can see in the chart below:



This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 20.52. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Prudential Financial’s current PE level puts it above its midpoint of 9.00 over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months.
 

 
Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks classified Insurance- Multi Line industry’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.21. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

 

We should also point out that Prudential Financial has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 10.37, so it is fair to say that a more value-oriented path for the stock in the near term too.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Prudential Financial has a P/S ratio of about 0.84. This is lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.18 right now.



If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Prudential Financial currently has a Zacks Value Style Score of ‘A’, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Prudential Financial a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, the PEG ratio for Prudential Financial is 1.22, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.38. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate. Additionally, its P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 5.14, better than the industry average of 7.06. Clearly, PRU is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Prudential Financial might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth grade of ‘F’ and a Momentum score of ‘A’. This gives PRU a Zacks VGM score—or its overarching fundamental grade—of ‘B’. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Further, the company’s recent earnings estimates have quite encouraging. The current year has seen four estimates go higher in the past sixty days compared to one downward revision, while the next year estimate has seen two up and one down in the same time period.

As a result, the current year consensus estimate has risen by 0.3% in the past two months, while the next year estimate has climbed 0.1%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Prudential Financial, Inc. Price and Consensus

However, this positive trend has likely not yet been reflected in the stock, as we have just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which indicates expectations of in-line performance in the near term. Nonetheless, the definite bullish analyst sentiment indicates that the stock’s growth story is intact.

Bottom Line

Prudential Financial is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. However, with a sluggish industry rank (bottom 28%) and a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about this company overall. Further, over the past six months, the Zacks classified Insurance – Multi Line industry has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:



So, value investors might want to wait for the broader factors to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.

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