Head-To-Head Comparison: Express (EXPR) versus Ascena Retail Group (ASNA)

Ascena Retail Group (NASDAQ: ASNA) and Express (NYSE:EXPR) are both small-cap retail/wholesale companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their institutional ownership, risk, analyst recommendations, profitability, dividends, valuation and earnings.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations for Ascena Retail Group and Express, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ascena Retail Group 1 7 0 0 1.88
Express 0 11 2 0 2.15

Ascena Retail Group presently has a consensus price target of $4.50, indicating a potential upside of 105.48%. Express has a consensus price target of $11.05, indicating a potential upside of 75.88%. Given Ascena Retail Group’s higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Ascena Retail Group is more favorable than Express.

Profitability

This table compares Ascena Retail Group and Express’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ascena Retail Group -15.25% 2.96% 0.94%
Express 1.85% 5.83% 3.04%

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Ascena Retail Group and Express’ revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ascena Retail Group $6.80 billion 0.06 $581.10 million ($5.33) -0.41
Express $2.16 billion 0.23 $161.73 million $0.51 12.31

Ascena Retail Group has higher revenue and earnings than Express. Ascena Retail Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Express, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

96.2% of Ascena Retail Group shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 96.5% of Express shares are held by institutional investors. 8.6% of Ascena Retail Group shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 2.6% of Express shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Risk & Volatility

Ascena Retail Group has a beta of 1.91, meaning that its stock price is 91% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Express has a beta of 1.44, meaning that its stock price is 44% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Express beats Ascena Retail Group on 8 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Ascena Retail Group

Ascena Retail Group, Inc. is a specialty retailer of apparel for women and tween girls. The Company operates through six segments: ANN, Justice, Lane Bryant, maurices, dressbarn and Catherines. The ANN segment offers feminine classics and fashion choices, sold primarily under the Ann Taylor and LOFT brands. The Justice segment offers apparel to girls who are aged 6 to 12. The Lane Bryant segment offers apparel to female customers in plus-sizes 14-28. The maurices segment offers women’s casual clothing, career wear, dressy apparel, active wear and accessories. The dressbarn segment consists of the specialty retail, outlet and e-commerce operations of the dressbarn brand. The Catherines segment offers classic apparel and accessories to female customers for wear-to-work and casual lifestyles. As of July 30, 2016, the Company operated approximately 4,900 stores in 49 United States’ states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Puerto Rico.

About Express

Express, Inc. is a specialty apparel and accessories retailer offering both women’s and men’s merchandise. The Company targets women and men between 20 and 30 years old. It offers an assortment of fashionable apparel and accessories to address fashion needs across multiple aspects of lifestyles, including work, casual, jeanswear and going-out occasions. It is engaged in the operation of its brick-and-mortar retail and outlet stores, e-commerce operations and franchise operations. It sells its products through its e-commerce Website, www.express.com and its mobile application, and has franchise agreements with franchisees that operate Express locations in Latin America. It operated 656 stores across the United States, in Canada and in Puerto Rico, including 104 factory outlet stores, as of January 28, 2017. Its products are created by its in-house design team. Its portfolio of apparel products includes brands, such as Portofino shirt, Editor pant and 1MX shirt.

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