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This week it's all about swapping higher-priced companies for what appear to be better values in the same sector. Even with continued worldwide market turmoil, handfuls of stocks continue to hit new 52-week highs. For bulls, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs really deserve their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty prices. Jazz Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: JAZZ ) , a company I highlighted last month, continues to impress with sales its narcolepsy drug Xyrem. For the year, sales jumped 35%, and the company's favorable revenue and earnings guidance as well as expectations of gross margins exceeding 90% excited investors. But some companies potentially deserve a kick in the pants. Here's a look at three companies that could be worth selling.
Valuation not working
Don't get me wrong: For years, Polycom's (Nasdaq: PLCM ) earnings have been as solid as a rock. Even though the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team would disagree with me, Polycom's current valuation has me wanting to hang up on this video-conferencing company.
Polycom's five-year projected growth rate of 16% seems impressive, but at 63 times its trailing-12-month earnings, I'm betting better values can be had elsewhere. On top of that, Polycom ended the year with almost $500 million in cash and short-term investments, but investors aren't seeing any of it in the form of a dividend or a stock buyback. Instead, I'd advise looking into rival Tekelec (Nasdaq: TKLC ) . Despite its recent earnings weakness, the company's downside looks minimal. It trades well below book value and has $221 million in cash to boot with zero debt.
More foundation, please
It's amazing what some people will do to look beautiful. Unfortunately, there's only so much makeup you can put on a stock before it begins to look ugly. For Ulta Salon (Nasdaq: ULTA ) , I don't think you can mask its bubble-like valuation any longer.
The company trades at more than 35 times its cash flow and has a forward PEG ratio of 1.85. Cosmetics stocks are historically cyclical, falling off dramatically as soon as consumer sentiment takes a dive. Investors may be wise to tread cautiously here and consider a cheaper alternative like Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , which pays a dividend and can more easily deal with the market's peaks and troughs.
Finally, BJ's Restaurants (Nasdaq: BJRI ) shareholders may be reaching for the Pepto if they glance at its forward P/E of more than 30. BJ's has done a good job of attracting customers to its restaurants, but as oil and food prices rise, I'm concerned about how well it'll be able to pass along those costs to customers who just as easily could eat at home.
Rather than paying a premium for BJ's, I'd consider looking at my highlighted small cap for this week, Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD ) . Though not cheap in the traditional sense, B-Wild offers a more reasonable PEG of 1.02 and has $72 million in cash on hand.
What's your take on these pricey stocks? Am I abandoning ship too early or should caution be heeded? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider tracking these companies and your own personalized portfolio of stocks with the free and easy-to-use My Watchlist.