3 Top Stocks at Half Price

You love buying your shirts when they go on sale. And who can resist a buy-one-get-one-free offer? So when our stocks go on sale, why do we bemoan their low prices?

Smart investors like Warren Buffett or Marty Whitman love it when their stocks are suddenly selling at bargain-basement prices. For them, these companies become no-brainer buys.

The investors in the Motley Fool CAPS community also like a bargain, apparently. Below, you'll find three companies whose shares are selling at least 50% below their 52-week highs, but which still earn high honors from our investor-intelligence database. Consider it a BOGO sale on stocks.

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Off  12-Month High

MELA Sciences (Nasdaq: MELA  )

****

50%

Neutral Tandem (Nasdaq: TNDM  )

*****

55%

STEC (Nasdaq: STEC  )

****

68%

Naturally, we want you to look a bit closer at these stocks before buying. You can get low-priced appliances in the dent-and-ding section of your home-remodeling superstore, but their quality might not be so good. Same thing here: Make sure there's nothing seriously wrong with the company before you plug it into your portfolio.

Take two, they're small
The one thing markets hate is uncertainty. MELA Sciences was hoping the FDA would meet this month to decide the fate of its skin cancer screening device, but the advisory panel needs more time and has pushed the meeting back to November.

MELA took a big hit when the FDA delayed pre-market approval for the MelaFind device because they needed more data. Because it emits light waves to capture images of suspected lesions, and uses a sophisticated algorithm trained on MELA's database, to analyze the images to provide information on whether a biopsy is needed, the device is a significant departure from the methods used by General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) or Siemens PET/CT scanners and might explain in part why the FDA hesitated.

However, the device is so novel, and there seems to be such great need for it that CAPS member jrusso9722 just doesn't see how the MelaFind cannot be approved:

Since Mela-Find (r), is not a drug, I believe, FDA wonders what criteria to use to approve it. I'll predict FDA will approve it. How in God's name can they not approve an imaging device to identify the most deadly form of skin cancer. They dare not keep it from the public.

A reserve player
Network connection services provider Neutral Tandem has suffered from the analyst community's belief that robust competition from Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT  ) will cut into its revenues. They might not be far off though, because although the wireless carrier switchboard reaffirmed full-year guidance earlier in the year, it missed analyst expectations for the second quarter and now says results will come in at the low end of the forecast. That sort of weakening outlook suggests the competition may just be getting to Neutral Tandem.

CAPS member kmote is as fearless as the nearly 1,100 other members who've rated the company to outperform the broad market averages, believing it will be supported by its hefty cash position:

About half the stock price is cash, take a look at the balance sheet, currently $5.65 per share is cash.

With friends like these
Now that STEC has resolved its ZeusIOPS inventory issues with EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) , the solid-state drive maker is ready to rebound and investors may find that it's time for it to become a truly great investment for them. It seems to be only a matter of when, not if, SSDs supplant traditional drives in corporate storage networks. But STEC's reliance on EMC for the vast bulk of its sales creates concentration risk for investors who may wonder when they next hiccup will come.

STEC has moved to address these concerns by putting in place plans to sell more drives to its other customers, including Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , IBM, and Hitachi. That could be why 92% of the CAPS members rating the drive maker see it beating the market, but you can tell us on the STEC CAPS page whether you think it will spin out of control.

Have half a mind
Sign up today for the completely free CAPS service, and tell us whether these stocks are twice as good at half the price.

The Fool owns shares of MELA Sciences, Neutral Tandem, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2010, at 2:13 PM, Devicer wrote:

    "Since Mela-Find (r), is not a drug, I believe, FDA wonders what criteria to use to approve it. I'll predict FDA will approve it." Jrusso9722, it doesn't work like that.

    The FDA approves far more new devices than new drugs. FDA has well-established criteria for the review and approval of new devices. In general, it is the quality of the company's application that determines if there are delays in review. This is also a novel and complicated device; it compares the skin lesion it is looking at to a database of other skin lesions which were also biopsied and found to be cancerous. The data submitted by the company needed to establish the validity of this comparison in addition to the clinical trial results.

    The clinical study for this device was conducted under a so-called "binding protocol agreement" (see http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=191863&p=iro... where the company and FDA had agreed on the criteria for success going in. However, if the reviewer is able to make the case that the company didn't follow the protocol, or if there were new issues that arose in the trial, the agreement is no longer binding. I'm hopeful that is not the issue.

    I agree that the technology is compelling. Dermatologists know that a small percentage of certain skin pigmentations have a very deadly cancer. They can't (and shouldn't) biopsy them all.

    The platform is not terribly exotic - a PC connected to a fancy digital camera. The company should be positioned to price these at a good margin, while still getting huge market penetration. Execution will be everything for the profitability of this investment. If the reliability of the device in the field is not good, or if there is a recall or other issue that slows roll-out, investors will be reminded why stocks are in the dent and ding section.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 1:37 PM, jrusso9722 wrote:

    MelaFind is a standard which reads itself. That is a firm benefit to life. Radiologists read x-rays, CAT, MRI, (invasive) leading to as many opinions as there are doctors. MelaFind is a "backbone" FOR DOCTORS AND PATIENTS, to consider when examining a lesion. MelaFind is not a body scan!! It's a diagnostic evaluation tool to help preserve and protect life, through a non-varying second opinion. Melanoma patients, and doctors, want this test.

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