Since this is the shortest month of the year, why not take a look at stocks with the shortest stock prices?
OK, so maybe I've been eyeing stocks in the single digits for a lot longer than just February. I've been singling out attractive low-priced stocks since my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column eight years ago.
Every month, I discuss five low-priced stocks that I find compelling. Clearly, there are risks here. You don't get beaten this low without a reason. But these gloomy valleys are some of my favorite places to smoke out opportunities. Let's go over this month's list.
Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI ) -- $9.70
I never thought I'd be writing about the global video game leader in this column. I certainly didn't think that Activision Blizzard would make it this far south, given the success of hot franchises like Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft.
The company's latest quarterly report was decent, once again topping Wall Street expectations. As a retail niche, gaming has also held up better than toys or specialty apparel. Since the recession is making homebodies out of a lot of us, Activision Blizzard should have a pretty bright future.
Elan (NYSE: ELN ) -- $7.63
Drugmakers are typically portrayed as recession-resistant, given the steady demand for their medicine. Elan is already a giant as a result of Tysabri, treating patients battling multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.
Charly Travers recommended the stock to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers two months ago, as a result of the company making major headway in a treatment for Alzheimer's. The Irish drugmaker isn't profitable, but the upside is huge if it lands another blockbuster drug.
IPG Photonics (Nasdaq: IPGP ) -- $9.72
If you're going to toil in a niche, you may as well dominate. IPG is the leading maker of fiber lasers, generating superior beam quality to the old-school carbon dioxide and crystal lasers that have been on the market for generations.
IPG's high-powered lasers are used in everything from materials processing to medical applications. The company reports earnings next week, and I'm not worried. IPG has beaten analyst expectations in each of the first three quarters of 2008. Even if it merely nails the market's profit target, the company will be trading at a low multiple of around 12 times trailing earnings.
Royal Caribbean (NYSE: RCL ) -- $6.93
I've always enjoyed cruises, and now I can enjoy Royal Caribbean as a contrarian bet as well. Consumers are shying away from big-ticket purchases. Investors are following suit. That's a shame, because they're missing out here.
There are plenty of things to like about the cruising industry, like the taxation and staffing benefits of operating ships on the open sea. Royal Caribbean may have no choice but to discount to fill its cabins, but it's going to benefit from the recent plunge in oil prices. The company expects to earn $1.40 a share this year, giving the stock a ridiculous valuation, especially when investors consider how much more the company has earned in merrier times like last year.
AMD (NYSE: AMD ) -- $2.42
This isn't a sexy pick, I'll grant you that. The microprocessor specialist not named Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) is ringing up billions -- yes, with a "b" -- in annual losses. It couldn't even achieve a quorum at last week's shareholder meeting to approve the spinoff of its manufacturing plants.
However, Intel needs AMD around, and so do computer buyers in general. Intel may be making all of the headlines with its Atom chips in netbooks and its relationship with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , but AMD had been too feisty a competitor to dismiss entirely.
Five for the road
Turnarounds never happen overnight. These five stocks aren't trading in the single digits by accident. If I'm right about the catalysts, though, they may not be trading in the single digits for too much longer.
Finding promising stocks while they're still cutting their baby teeth is at the heart of the Rule Breakers newsletter, to which I contribute. You can check it out for free this month with a 30-day trial subscription. More than a dozen active stock recommendations in the growth-stock research service are trading for less than $10 at the moment, including Elan and IPG Photonics. Check those out, and I'll be back with more on the third Monday of next month.