Can Value Investors Consider Kohl's (KSS) Stock Now?

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Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Kohl’s KSS stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, Kohl’s has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 6.62, as you can see in the chart below:

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 24.29. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Kohl’s’s current PE level puts it above its midpoint (which is 10.44) over the past five years. Moreover, the current level stands well below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Retail-Wholesale sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 29.16. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

We should also point out that Kohl’s has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 6.37, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Kohl’s stock in the near term too .

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Kohl’s has a P/S ratio of about 0.38. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 5.05x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Kohl’s currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Kohl’s a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, the P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 10.68, which is far better than the industry average of 30.08. Clearly, KSS is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Kohl’s might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of A and a Momentum Score of C. This gives KSS a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of A. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been solid at best. The current quarter has seen five estimates go higher in the past sixty days compared to none lower, while the full year estimate has seen seven up and none down in the same time period.

This has had a noticeable impact on the consensus estimate though as the current quarter consensus estimate has risen 11.4% in the past two months, while the full year estimate has increased by 20%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Kohl’s Corporation Price and Consensus

Kohl’s Corporation Price and Consensus

Kohl’s Corporation price-consensus-chart | Kohl’s Corporation Quote

This bullish trend is why the stock boasts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and why we are expecting outperformance from the company in the near term.

Bottom Line

Kohl’s is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Further, a strong industry rank (among Top 1% of more than 250 industries) instills our confidence. However, over the past two years, the Zacks Retail – Regional Department Store industry has clearly underperformed the broader market, as you can see below:

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

So, value investors might want to wait for analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.

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