5 Stocks That Are Cheaper Than You Think

Your expectations can use a refresh button.

Now that most companies have filed away their 2010 financial performances, we can begin diving into fiscal projections for this year -- and for 2012.

It's no longer a stretch. The term "next year's earnings" now refers to 2012, and you may be amazed at how quickly some of the market's seemingly overpriced players are growing. Loftier profit targets translate into lower forward P/E multiples.

I've been taking a look at five unexpected cheapies during these past few weeks. Let's try a few more.



This Year P/E

Next Year P/E

My Watchlist

Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW  ) $42.37 26 23 Add
JA Solar (Nasdaq: JASO  ) $6.48 5 5 Add
VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) $84.91 46 39 Add
PotashCorp (NYSE: POT  ) $56.13 17 15 Add
Visa (NYSE: V  ) $77.03 16 14 Add

Source: Yahoo! Finance. Visa's fiscal year ends in September.

Valuation is only a number
Many of these multiples -- even those clocking in for next year -- are chunky. You don't often hear something along the lines of "this stock is so cheap that it's trading for a mere 39 times next year's projected profitability."

Then again, there is more to this basket of presumably pricey stocks than meets the cynical eye.

Silver Wheaton is a Vancouver, Canada-based silver streaming company. It should not be a surprise to see a metal play holding up well these days, but worrywarts concerned that the stock is trading at more than 50 times trailing profitability need to turn around and start looking forward.

JA Solar is proof that alternative energy doesn't have to come with a sky-high multiple. In fact, JA Solar is joined by Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL  ) and Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) as other solar heavies fetching forward P/Es in the single digits.

There are concerns that China's economic bubble may pop or that the solar revolution may cool off in Europe given some of the wobbly kneed economies there. It's a legitimate fear, since earnings growth will reverse if orders dry up. However, it would seem that niche weakness is already factored into JA Solar's price.

VMware is the priciest name on this week's list, but it's also the market darling championing the virtualization software craze that's winning a growing number of companies. VMware's solution makes corporate servers more efficient by pooling capacity. It's a high-growth field, explaining why VMware is trading at 56 times trailing profitability, but less than 40 times next year's projected earnings.

PotashCorp is cashing in on demand for agricultural harvests. Yes, fertilizer is big business in this global landscape where rapidly emerging markets have the means to eat a little better than they used to.

If you want an impressive Potash growth trajectory, consider that it earned $2.04 a share last year. Analysts see net income of $3.73 next year. An 83% bottom-line spurt in two years is pretty impressive for a stock trading at a forward multiple in the teens.

Finally, we have Visa. The credit card marketer obviously isn't growing as quickly as some of the names on this list, but it's easy to buy into the attractiveness of a company that banks on card swipes during the early stages of an economic turnaround. Visa never had to take on the risk that the issuers faced with deadbeat chargers, yet it's still positioned well for the recovery.

Adding it up
None of these stocks are immune to a market meltdown. If you're looking for bulwarks, you'll have to find them somewhere else.

These investments are largely high-beta growth stocks, and will likely remain that way for several more years. The key here, though, is that they aren't as expensive as pundits make them out to be.

It's the opportunity that you didn't know that you were waiting for.

Interested in reading more about any of these stocks? Add them to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis. And if you like these five stocks, check out the six stocks that Tom and David Gardner think you should be watching in a free special report.

Visa is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz also believes that expensive stocks can get even more expensive, too. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (11)

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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 April 13, 2011, at 10:43 AM, EGTalbot wrote:

    Actually with SLW, the story may be even more compelling - and more risky at the same time. Their earnings are almost totally dependent on the price of silver. Delve into the analyst's estimates for 2011 and see how many of them have based them on $40 per ounce silver. They're not, they're based on a lower price.

    It's not speculation to say that SLW will crush estimates if silver remains over $40. Thus those P/E's in the 20's will actually be in the teens. But it's also not speculation to say that if silver drops back to where it was just last summer, SLW will miss estimates badly.

    So, I don't think it's accurate to say that SLW is "cheaper than you think" in the traditional sense of that term. It's dirt cheap if you think silver will go up another 25% in the next year. If you think a correction is long overdue in silver and the huge increases are just a bubble, you'll want to stay away from it.

    I'm long SLW and plenty of other PM-related items, but it's for reasons unrelated to normal "value investing"

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2011, at 5:58 PM, ChairmanMAObama wrote:

    POT has 29.72 PE Per Street/33.77 per my ameritrade/Credit Suisse shows 17.2 for dec2012/13>Ford equity shows30.24 so I dont know where yahoo gets their numbers but I still like (POT) the stock, not the weed yahoo may be smoking

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2011, at 6:38 PM, xetn wrote:

    FWIW, SLW's cash costs are $4.01 per ounce! as of fy 2010!

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