The shares of Micron Technology, Inc. have increased by more than 8.58% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -9.87% or -$4.89 and now trades at $44.65. The shares of KLA-Tencor Corporation (NASDAQ:KLAC), has jumped by 2.10% year to date as of 09/06/2018. The shares currently trade at $107.28 and have been able to report a change of -8.10% over the past one week.

The stock of Micron Technology, Inc. and KLA-Tencor Corporation were two of the most active stocks on Thursday. 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: 36.93% versus 11.07%**

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 MU will grow it’s earning at a 36.93% annual rate in the next 5 years. This is in contrast to KLAC which will have a positive growth at a 11.07% annual rate. This means that the higher growth rate of MU 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. MU has an EBITDA margin of 58.05%, this implies that the underlying business of MU is more profitable. The ROI of MU is 19.20% while that of KLAC is 33.00%. These figures suggest that KLAC ventures generate a higher ROI than that of MU.

**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, MU’s free cash flow per share is a positive 8.56, while that of KLAC is positive 5.76.

**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 current ratio for MU is 2.60 and that of KLAC is 3.70. This implies that it is easier for MU to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than KLAC. The debt ratio of MU is 0.26 compared to 1.38 for KLAC. KLAC can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than MU.

**Valuation**

MU currently trades at a forward P/E of 3.85, a P/B of 1.81, and a P/S of 1.82 while KLAC trades at a forward P/E of 11.12, a P/B of 10.31, and a P/S of 4.17. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, MU 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 MU is currently at a -46.59% to its one-year price target of 83.60. Looking at its rival pricing, KLAC is at a -20.79% relative to its price target of 135.43.

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), MU is given a 2.00 while 2.10 placed for KLAC. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for KLAC 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 MU is 1.41 while that of KLAC is just 4.02. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for MU stock.

Conclusion

The stock of KLA-Tencor Corporation defeats that of Micron Technology, Inc. when the two are compared, with KLAC taking 3 out of the total factors that were been considered. KLAC 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, KLAC is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for KLAC is better on when it is viewed on short interest.