Tumbling to a price of $215.04 during today's morning trading session, shares of Equifax are now -6.64% below their average target price of $230.33. Does this mean the stock will reverse course? Analysts are giving EFX an average rating of buy and target prices ranging from 165.0 to 260.0 dollars per share.
The market seems to share this optimistic view, since Equifax has a short interest of only 4.6% (this is the percentage of the share float that is being shorted). Each short position represents an investor's expectation that the price of the stock will decrease in the future.
When a stock is sold short, it means an investor has borrowed shares of the stock from their broker, and then sold them at the going market price. The investor hopes for the price to decline, so that they might buy those shares back at a lower price in the future. Once they do, they can return the borrowed shares to their broker, and keep the profit they made on the transaction.
Another way to gauge the sentiment on Equifax is to look at the percentage of institutions that are invested in the stock. In this case, 100.6% of the shares are held by pension, mutual, and hedge funds, which shows that these institutions probably have strong confidence in the stock.
If institutions are invested in a particular stock, it shows in most cases that they have performed quality research and concluded that it is a good investment. In some cases, however, increases in institutional ownership could be a sign of a takeover attempt or proxy fight, which can actually injure share prices. Also, institutions are not infallible, and can certainly make miscalculations -- often with spectacular results.
To sum up, Equifax is probably the subject of mixed market sentiment because of an analyst consensus of some 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 EFX:
The stock has trailing 12 month earnings per share (EPS) of $4.74
Equifax has a trailing 12 month Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio of 45.4 compared to the S&P 500 average of 15.97
The company has a Price to Book (P/B) ratio of 6.49 in contrast to the S&P 500's average ratio of 2.95
Equifax is a Finance company, and the sector average P/E and P/B ratios are 14.34 and 1.57 respectively