June 25, 2012
Telecom equipment giant Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU ) has its fair share of critics and some real issues to overcome. But there's also opportunity hidden in the company's many problems. I can think of three reasons why Alcatel might be a terrific buy right now:
Deep, deep value: Trading at just more than $1.50 per share today, Alcatel has taken a 75% beating from the 52-week highs set last summer. The stock fetches about one-fifth the P/E and price-to-sales ratios of chief rival Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC ) . At just 2.2 times trailing earnings, Alcatel is priced for absolute disaster, and anything else will propel the stock to dramatic gains.
Rich experience: This ain't Alcatel's first rodeo, pardner. The company came back swinging from the 2008 and 2009 crisis, but so did the entire networking sector. More to the point, buying this stock in the summer of 2010 would have bagged you an easy double in six months, as Alcatel overcame the skeptics with solid earnings and an impressive equipment contract when global giant Telefonica (NYSE: TEF ) bolstered its 3G coverage in high-traffic public areas. Speaking of which...
Still relevant: Rumor has it that AT&T (NYSE: T ) is looking to build a network of extremely local mobile base stations, known as femtocells. Where does Ma Bell turn for such an important project? Why, to established leaders Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, of course -- just like Telefonica did. Low-cost Chinese providers may look like threats, but Alcatel still owns mindshare among the equipment buyers who really make the market.
This is not an official buy recommendation, of course. But investors could do well by betting against Mr. Market sometimes, and these three points seem to get lost in the general Alcatel discussion. Some elite investors never look stupid, even when they go all in on seemingly hopeless bets. You wouldn't believe what those geniuses are buying today while everyone else is selling.