The shares of Rite Aid Corporation have decreased by more than -14.72% this year alone. The shares recently went up by 3.07% or $0.05 and now trades at $1.68. The shares of SLM Corporation (NASDAQ:SLM), has jumped by 0.53% year to date as of 04/13/2018. The shares currently trade at $11.36 and have been able to report a change of -0.09% over the past one week.

The stock of Rite Aid Corporation and SLM Corporation were two of the most active stocks on Friday. Investors seem to be very interested in what happens to the stocks of these two companies but do investors favor one over the other? We will analyze the growth, profitability, risk, valuation, and insider trends of both companies and see which one investors prefer.

**Next 5Y EPS Growth: -3.69% versus 23.89%**

When a company is able to grow consistently in terms of earnings at a high compound rate have the highest likelihood of creating value for its shareholders over time. Analysts have predicted that RAD will grow it’s earning at a -3.69% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to SLM which will have a positive growth at a 23.89% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of SLM implies a greater potential for capital appreciation over the years.

**Profitability and Returns**

Growth alone cannot be used to see if the company will be valuable. Shareholders will be the losers if a company invest in ventures that aren’t profitable enough to support upbeat growth. In order for us to accurately measure profitability and return, we will be using the EBITDA margin and Return on Investment (ROI), which balances the difference in capital structure. RAD has an EBITDA margin of 3.35%, this implies that the underlying business of SLM is more profitable. The ROI of RAD is 11.10% while that of SLM is 1.50%. These figures suggest that RAD ventures generate a higher ROI than that of SLM.

**Cash Flow**

The value of a stock is ultimately determined by the amount of cash flow that the investors have available. Over the last 12 months, RAD’s free cash flow per share is a positive 0.13, while that of SLM is negative -3.93.

**Liquidity and Financial Risk**

The ability of a company to meet up with its short-term obligations and be able to clear its longer-term debts is measured using Liquidity and leverage ratios. The debt ratio of RAD is 3.68 compared to 9.05 for SLM. SLM can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than RAD.

**Valuation**

RAD currently trades at a forward P/E of 16.47, a P/B of 2.13, and a P/S of 0.07 while SLM trades at a forward P/E of 9.59, a P/B of 2.37, and a P/S of 3.44. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, RAD is the cheaper one. It is very obvious that earnings are the most important factors to investors, thus analysts are most likely to place their bet on the P/E.

**Analyst Price Targets and Opinions**

The mistake some people make is that they think a cheap stock has more value to it. In order to know the value of a stock, there is need to compare its current price to its likely trading price in the future. The price of RAD is currently at a -17.65% to its one-year price target of 2.04. Looking at its rival pricing, SLM is at a -24.06% relative to its price target of 14.96.

When looking at the investment recommendation on say a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a strong buy, 3 a hold, and 5 a sell), RAD is given a 3.00 while 1.60 placed for SLM. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for RAD stocks.

**Insider Activity and Investor Sentiment**

Short interest or otherwise called the percentage of a stock’s tradable shares currently being shorted is another data that investors use to get a handle on sentiment. The short ratio for RAD is 6.83 while that of SLM is just 6.10. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for SLM stock.

Conclusion

The stock of Rite Aid Corporation defeats that of SLM Corporation when the two are compared, with RAD taking 7 out of the total factors that were been considered. RAD happens to be more profitable, generates a higher ROI, has higher cash flow per share, higher liquidity and has a lower financial risk. When looking at the stock valuation, RAD is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for RAD is better on when it is viewed on short interest.