The world's top value investors love it when their best stocks ideas are selling at bargain-basement prices. For those 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.
Less than a year ago, these companies were trading for at least twice the value they currently do. While you'll naturally want to do more due diligence before buying, this might be an opportunity to pick up some quality companies at a severe discount.
Hanging up on growth
Investors continue to hang up on Israel's largest cellular service provider, Cellcom Israel (NYSE: CEL ) , as government-mandated price cuts and competition dampen the outlook for profits. Both it and industry runner up Partner Communications (Nasdaq: PTNR ) have lost more than three quarters of their value from the highs they hit over the past 12 months.
I noted a few weeks ago that Cellcom's earnings plunged 43%, and there was a steep falloff in profits for Partner, too. Analysts expect the latter to see them weaken further as it moves to start up a discount wireless service to meet new rivals entering the market at the behest of the government. In recent months, Golan Telecom and Hot Telecommunication System began offering unlimited packages at reduced rates, and even supermarket chains have gotten into the act.
Cellcom responded by offering triple-play packages that include unlimited local and international fixed-line services and Internet similar to those offered by Verizon and cable companies domestically. It's hoped the new family packages will help stem market-share erosion in the wireless segment while giving a boost to its landline business. Currently, Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication and Hot are the only operators owning full landline infrastructure in Israel and offering Internet infrastructure services to ISP operators and end users.
There's speculation that Cellcom's severely discounted share price may entice an investor to take a stake and turn things around, but with nothing definite, investors must size up the landscape as it is, and that's not encouraging. Yet CAPS member ravens9111 looks at the rising dividend payment as a barometer of whether to stay or go:
This one is a buy and hold for at least a year. If the dividend continues to increase during that time, I will hold longer. If for some reason it is cut again, I will sell at the end of the year.
Let me know in the comments section below or on the Cellcom Israel CAPS page if you'll be disconnecting from the wireless provider if things don't improve.
A difficult sequence of events
While this summer's record heat wave may have us feeling like we're living on the surface of the sun and causing us to wilt under its onslaught, natural gas prices have finally shown some life. We're all cranking the AC, so utilities are buying more natural gas than they typically do, causing inventory levels to rise less than expected. That's pushed natural gas prices to jump to a seven-month high. Of course, at a smidge under $3 per million Btus, prices are still depressed, but they're well off the lows they were at.
Yet what Ultra has going for it is it's one of the industry's lowest-cost producers. I've remarked before that Ultra may be the ultimate investment in the space because of the necessity it has to keep caring and tending to its fields, producing gas at low prices now but able to sell it higher later on when the industry recovers. Natural gas is hurting now, but it will rise once again.
The current price boomlet may not be the one to sustain it, though, as cooler temps will return (or at least we hope they will), and as natural gas prices go, it makes the equally depressed coal market look more inviting. While there's a regulatory apparatus in place standing athwart coal right now, and so little incentive for utilities to switch, if input costs keep rising for them they'll use coal as a cheaper source of fuel.
Skyshadow664 sees Ultra and the industry on the comeback trail, and I'm hard-pressed to disagree. But tell me on the Ultra Petroleum CAPS page or the comments box below whether you think there's enough energy left for a rebound.
Have half a mind
If oil and gas are on the rebound, and even ExxonMobil says they had better be because "we are all losing our shirts," then you need to read The Motley Fool's free report "3 Stocks for $100 Oil," which highlights the best investment plays in a rising price environment. But hurry -- it's available as a free download only for a limited time.