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The world's top value investors love it when their best stocks ideas are selling at bargain-basement prices. For those rarified investors, companies offering fire-sale prices become no-brainer buys. So regular investors like you and me would do well to emulate the masters and look at companies offering a "buy one-get one" sale on their stocks -- those that are trading half or more off their recent highs.
Naturally, you'll want to do more due diligence before buying. Low-priced appliances in the dent-and-ding section of your home-remodeling superstore might be there for more reasons than just a few scratches on the surface: Real trouble might be lurking below.
A minus for Enerplus
I noted a couple of weeks ago that Canadian oil and gas outfit Enerplus (NYSE: ERF ) looked destined to fall further because the boom in natural gas drilling had yet to be contained. While prices have finally risen above $2 per million Btus and rig counts are down 32% from the year-ago figure, consumption continued to fall -- down 27% in the residential market and almost 3% in the industrial sector.
What Enerplus investors are undoubtedly looking at, though, is its 13.4% dividend yield, but in today's market I'd say it's unsustainable and is behind the company's recent decision to offer optional dividend payments in additional shares as opposed to cash. With fund flows virtually unchanged, the company has identified a sizable amount of assets that it could sell to raise cash, something other natural gas plays like SandRidge Energy (NYSE: SD ) began in earnest last year. Fellow Canadian EnCana (NYSE: ECA ) -- North America's second-largest natural gas producer -- has also taken to selling assets in an effort to shield its balance sheet from further decreases in natural gas prices.
This highlights the difficult position even well-financed companies are in today. Enerplus is a struggling firm and I've rated it on CAPS to underperform the market averages. CAPS member cdors also believes a dividend cut is in order, and that when that happens the stock will fall.
Enerplus shares are down 20% in the last month and 51% from their annual high. Add the natural gas specialist to your watchlist and let us know on the Enerplus CAPS page if you think its dividend is in danger.
MAKO needs more
The market has surgically reduced the stock of robotics maker MAKO Surgical (Nasdaq: MAKO ) after first-quarter results were well below expectations, causing guidance to remain unchanged for the full year.
In last year's fourth quarter, MAKO had performed well above plan, with system sales coming in above even revised guidance. That allowed it to forecast that 2012 would see anywhere from 56 to 62 system placements, but with just six RIO systems sold worldwide in the first quarter, management had to scale back its placement estimates to 52 to 58 systems. Now that's not a horrible range, considering that at the upper end it's still within the range originally set, and coupled with normal first-quarter seasonality, I continue to maintain it's a hiccup that can be overcome.
Compare that to Hansen Medical (Nasdaq: HNSN ) , which is having an even more difficult time getting placements for its Sensei catheter systems. It shipped just two units in the first quarter and saw the number of procedures drop 5% year over year. MAKO had a 76% increase in the number of MAKOplasties performed last year.
I've rated MAKO to outperform because this should be a level it bounces back from. In that regard, I'm joined by CAPS member arrowboy, who finds the surgical robotics specialist a "screaming buy" at this price: "Not just that it's a 52 week low, but the Q1 over-reaction by Mr. Market seems to forget that Q1's have historical been a major pull-back quarter."
Tell me on the MAKO Surgical CAPS page or the comments section below if you think it can reconstruct its share price, then follow its progress by adding the ticker to the Fool's free portfolio tracker.
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