Just as we examine companies each week that may be rising past their fair value, we can also find companies potentially trading at bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with companies tipping the scales at 52-week lows, I think it makes a lot of sense to determine whether the market has overreacted to the downside, just as we often do when the market reacts to the upside.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
A stock that bends, but doesn't break
This week I want to start off by taking a closer look at GrafTech International (NYSE: GTI ) , a company that makes products primarily for the steel industry -- but could have technological applications as well.
From a purely fundamental perspective, the company is cheap despite what was a year-over-year drop in net income. A slowdown in European steel demand and an ongoing destocking of the company's graphite electrodes should have demand normalized by mid-year, but that hasn't done anything to impress impatient investors. Still, GrafTech's profit of $0.12 and sales of $306 million easily topped what analysts had been looking for.
The Fool's Bryan Hinmon touched on the exciting aspect of GrafTech's potential last week. He sees GrafTech's proprietary compound, graphene, a bendable material, being used in Apple iPhones down the road. While this is mere speculation at present, the possibility is very feasible, and at just nine times forward earnings, the stock is cheap enough to take that gamble.
One person's trash is another's treasure
Make no mistake about it, I prefer Waste Management (NYSE: WM ) in the trash sector because its sheer size gives its businesses better diversity and its cash balance allows for better flexibility when it comes to operating its business. But with Republic Services (NYSE: RSG ) being tossed out with the bathwater last week, I have come to the determination that it's also worth a look.
At 3.3%, Republic's dividend yield notched much closer to Waste Management's 4.1% yield after last week's share-price tumble. The big news, however, was Republic's weakening guidance, which was largely blamed on increasing diesel fuel costs. Although these costs remain a viable concern, investors should be mostly ignoring fuel costs and pay attention to the investments Republic is making in its recycling operations. These investments are expected to boost recycling volume by 12% over the next 18 months, and, in my opinion, recycling's where the best margins are to be had in the future of waste control. Valued at just 12 times forward earnings compared to Waste Management at 14 times forward earnings, Republic definitely deserves some consideration.
Long before every technology company under the sun made the claim that their business was somehow related to the cloud, j2 Global (Nasdaq: JCOM ) actually was offering virtual email and phone service for businesses. You could say it's one of the original names in cloud-computing -- it's just no longer the most exciting.
But don't think for a moment that an established business is a bad business, because there's something to be said for a valuation that's far and away cheaper than nearly all other cloud-computing companies. At just 10 times forward earnings and yielding 3.3%, there are few cloud companies that can hold a candle to j2's valuation. The key to j2 Global's success is its prudent fiscal management and low-cost structure that resulted in a meaty gross margin of 82.8% last quarter and an ending cash balance of $177.9 million with no debt. It's no longer a high-growth company, but you'll grow to appreciate j2 if and when the market turns south.
This week it was as simple as finding undervalued, profitable businesses with steady growth potential regardless of what shape the economy is in. I'm so confident that these three names will bounce off their lows that I'm going to make a CAPScall of outperform on each one.
In the meantime, consider adding these potential winners to your free and personalized watchlist and get your own personal copy of our special report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012," to see which company our chief investment officer has dubbed the "Costco of Latin America." Best of all, this report is completely free, so don't miss out!