Tumbling to a price of $355.88 during today's morning trading session, shares of United Rentals are now -21.35% below their average target price of $452.5. Does this mean the stock will reverse course? Analysts are giving URI an average rating of buy and target prices ranging from 296.0 to 560.0 dollars per share.
The market seems to share this rosy outlook, since United Rentals has a short interest of only 4.6%. This represents the percentage of the share float that is being shorted, and each short position stands for an investor's expectation that the price of the stock will go down in the future.
Short selling involves borrowing shares and then selling them at current market prices. In the successful version of the strategy, the shares are purchased at a lower price at some time in the future. The investor then returns the shares to the lender, and keeps the profit made on the sell/buy transaction.
One way to get an idea of the market sentiment on a stock is to check its rate of institutional ownership. In the case of United Rentals, institutional investors own 96.9% of the shares, which indicates they have a very high stake in the company. What does this really tell us?
Institutional investors such as hedge funds, investment firms, and wealth managers devote significant resources to identifying good investments. If they have decided to invest in URI, it probably means they believe it is a solid investment choice.
But it could also mean they are buying up shares in an effort to acquire the company or to get seats on the board of directors. Also bear in mind that institutions are fallible (just maybe not quite as fallible as the average retail investor), so they may simply be wrong when they think they've found a good stock.
To sum up, United Rentals is probably the subject of mixed market sentiment because of an analyst consensus of strong upside potential, a buy rating, an average amount of shares sold short, and a significant number of institutional investors. At Market Inference, we believe that any investment decision should be preceded by an in-depth analysis of the company's fundamental values and a comparison with similar stocks.
Here's a snapshot of some important facts to keep in mind about URI:
The stock has trailing 12 month earnings per share (EPS) of $29.44
United Rentals has a trailing 12 month Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio of 12.1 compared to the S&P 500 average of 15.97
The company has a Price to Book (P/B) ratio of 3.5 in contrast to the S&P 500's average ratio of 2.95
United Rentals is a Consumer Discretionary company, and the sector average P/E and P/B ratios are 22.33 and 3.12 respectively