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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.
Guilt by association
In the cartoons, characters usually recover after having an anvil dropped on their heads. That isn't the case with networking company Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD ) .
Riverbed has been in a steady decline right along with network solutions provider Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT ) . With Acme warning that it was experiencing continued order slowness in its North American operations last week, investors would rather unplug from the entire sector than hang around to see what happens next. I, however, don't feel that would be the best approach with Riverbed.
Riverbed's recently launched Steelhead wide-access network optimization software, which allows workers to connect to data from both LANs and WANs, is going to be a major growth driver over the coming quarters. Riverbed has partnerships in place with U.S. telecom giants AT&T and Verizon -- both companies which have contributed to the spending slowdown -- but I feel its greatest growth opportunity lies with small and mid-tier businesses that are still in the process of rapidly expanding their infrastructure. As a play on bandwidth expansion and cloud-computing growth, Riverbed gets my vote of approval.
Get rich on Richmont
It's been far too long since I've highlighted a junior miner, so let's rectify that situation right now by looking more closely at Canadian gold miner Richmont Mines (NYSE: RIC ) .
All miners, including Richmont, have been plagued recently by weaker gold prices and higher operating costs associated with mine maintenance and build-out. For Richmont, the negativity has been compounded by a reduction in proven and probable reserve estimates at its Francoeur mine to 77,580 ounces from its previous expectations of nearly 137,000 ounces. Still, there are plenty of valuable assets left beyond Francoeur (which will still be mined, although it will offer a shorter life span than originally anticipated).
Richmont's two primary mines -- the Beaufor Mine in Quebec and the Island Gold Mine in Ontario -- have kept and will continue to keep the company profitable. Ore grades are consistently around 7 grams per tonne, which has led to steady profitability for the company through much of the past decade. Between Beaufor's 69,000 ounces of proven and probable gold reserves, Island Gold Mines' 172,000, and Francoeur's nearly 78,000, Richmont shareholders need not worry about profitability for quite some time. These estimates also don't take into account measurable or inferred resources, either, so they are conservative at best.
At less than four times forward earnings, Richmont could be the spark your portfolio is looking for.
Better safe than sorry
A malware scare over the weekend affecting hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide served as a stark reminder that the Internet security sector is big enough for more than one company.
If you recall, AVG Technologies (NYSE: AVG ) has been my preferred choice in the sector due to its low customer acquisition costs and McAfee's miscues, which resulted in a 27.5% decline in revenue last year. However, today I want to also add Norton Antivirus maker Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC ) to that list of buys.
There are reasons for short-sellers to be skeptical, including Symantec lowering its earnings guidance on lower enterprise demand for its software and the company adding to its debt load by offering $1 billion in notes in June. But, unlike Intel's McAfee, Symantec was able to grow its market share by 17% in the consumer and enterprise security segment in 2011. The demand for security is only growing, and Symantec's original equipment deals with large manufacturers should provide a steady base of cash flow for the company to build upon. Symantec looks like quite the bargain at less than eight times forward earnings.
Just because a company takes a couple of blows and perhaps even gets knocked down doesn't necessarily mean it's out for the 10-count. Steady growth demand in networking and security bode well for Riverbed and Symantec, while solid gold reserves should mean good things for Richmont going forward.
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." Find out 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!