Have you been paying attention to shares of Huron Consulting (HURN)? Shares have been on the move with the stock up 6% over the past month. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $85.87 in the previous session. Huron Consulting has gained 18.1% since the start of the year compared to the 3% move for the Zacks Business Services sector and the 4.6% return for the Zacks Consulting Services industry.
What's Driving the Outperformance?
The stock has an impressive record of positive earnings surprises, as it hasn't missed our earnings consensus estimate in any of the last four quarters. In its last earnings report on February 28, 2023, Huron Consulting reported EPS of $1.12 versus consensus estimate of $0.98 while it beat the consensus revenue estimate by 11.83%.
For the current fiscal year, Huron Consulting is expected to post earnings of $4.03 per share on $1.25 billion in revenues. This represents a 17.49% change in EPS on a 10.29% change in revenues. For the next fiscal year, the company is expected to earn $4.79 per share on $1.37 billion in revenues. This represents a year-over-year change of 19.02% and 9.56%, respectively.
Huron Consulting may be at a 52-week high right now, but what might the future hold for the stock? A key aspect of this question is taking a look at valuation metrics in order to determine if the company is due for a pullback from this level.
On this front, we can look at the Zacks Style Scores, as they provide investors with an additional way to sort through stocks (beyond looking at the Zacks Rank of a security). These styles are represented by grades running from A to F in the categories of Value, Growth, and Momentum, while there is a combined VGM Score as well. The idea behind the style scores is to help investors pick the most appropriate Zacks Rank stocks based on their individual investment style.
Huron Consulting has a Value Score of A. The stock's Growth and Momentum Scores are A and F, respectively, giving the company a VGM Score of A.
In terms of its value breakdown, the stock currently trades at 21.3X current fiscal year EPS estimates, which is not in-line with the peer industry average of 21.4X. On a trailing cash flow basis, the stock currently trades at 17.1X versus its peer group's average of 17.2X. This isn't enough to put the company in the top echelon of all stocks we cover from a value perspective.
We also need to look at the Zacks Rank for the stock, as this supersedes any trend on the style score front. Fortunately, Huron Consulting currently has a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy) thanks to rising earnings estimates.
Since we recommend that investors select stocks carrying Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B, it looks as if Huron Consulting fits the bill. Thus, it seems as though Huron Consulting shares could have a bit more room to run in the near term.
How Does HURN Stack Up to the Competition?
Shares of HURN have been soaring, and the company still appears to be a decent choice, but what about the rest of the industry? One industry peer that looks good is CBIZ, Inc. (CBZ). CBZ has a Zacks Rank of # 2 (Buy) and a Value Score of B, a Growth Score of A, and a Momentum Score of C.
Earnings were strong last quarter. CBIZ, Inc. beat our consensus estimate by 13.18%, and for the current fiscal year, CBZ is expected to post earnings of $2.41 per share on revenue of $1.55 billion.
Shares of CBIZ, Inc. have gained 4.6% over the past month, and currently trade at a forward P/E of 21.54X and a P/CF of 18.29X.
The Consulting Services industry is in the top 14% of all the industries we have in our universe, so it looks like there are some nice tailwinds for HURN and CBZ, even beyond their own solid fundamental situation.
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