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.
How many times now have I come down negatively on cloud-computing valuations? Well, today I have a surprise, because I found another very reasonably priced software-management and cloud-computing specialist that looks like it could be set up to surprise the market.
OpenText (Nasdaq: OTEX ) , Canada's largest software maker, is focused strictly on enterprise content management solutions so it doesn't have to worry about the fickle spending habits of individual consumers. What makes OpenText stand out is its impressive list of both big and small clients worldwide, and its recent purchase of cloud-based messaging service Easylink for $310 million, inclusive of debt. That purchase was less than two times Easylink's annual revenue and moves OpenText further into the cloud while not compromising its innovative pipeline of business-management and content-management products.
If you recall, I highlighted OpenText's rival, J2 Communications (Nasdaq: JCOM ) , in early May. Since that time, J2 has rallied nicely after releasing preliminary guidance in mid-July that was well above Wall Street's expectations -- although OpenText's license revenue could continue to suffer in the near-term if the United States' GDP contracts further and businesses reduce spending, OpenText has a strong enough lineup of software and future growth prospects that I'd call it a steal at less than nine times forward earnings.
Warning! Warning! Speculation alert!
Normally I spend my time highlighting deeply undervalued or underappreciated companies in this weekly column, but few, if any, are in such deep distress that the "b" word -- bankruptcy -- would even be a consideration. That's not the case with the struggling Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU ) , which recently lowered its full-year forecasts and widely missed Wall Street's second-quarter estimates. As my Foolish colleague Anders Bylund noted, it's following a very similar path as Nortel Networks. Alcatel-Lucent has serious pension deficits and mounting losses all while its European operations weaken because of the ongoing debt crisis in the region.
However, as I highlighted last week as well, Alcatel-Lucent may have a few tricks up its sleeve. The company does have 28,000 patents that it could use to raise cash, and as we've seen from recent patent sales, there could be a wide variance in value on that patent portfolio. Also don't forget that major telecom companies are relying on Alcatel-Lucent's networking and optical products to power their expansion. Verizon Wireless (a joint venture made up of Verizon and Vodafone Group) is relying on Alcatel-Lucent to manage its mobile 4G data growth while France Telecom (NYSE: FTE ) is spending heavily on its fiber network and relying on Alcatel-Lucent's optical products to drive bandwidth expansion.
There are significant risks here, but with remaining net cash you could break the company up and net a nice return. Investors are going to take notice of that, and this could be a doozy of a turnaround story in 2013.
On the dot
Let's stick with the theme of being aggressive this week and take a look at micro-cap storage-network solutions specialist Dot Hill Systems (Nasdaq: HILL ) . Unlike Alcatel-Lucent, which is very liquid and still a $2.4 billion company, Dot Hill is much, much smaller. However, just because a company is small doesn't mean it should be ignored.
Dot Hill hasn't turned an annual profit since 2005, so this is definitely another gamble on my part, but I think it's turning the corner. The company is finally spreading around its sales among numerous customers as opposed to just a few and therefore isn't subjected to wild revenue swings as it had been in the past. Also, as an original equipment manufacturing supplier, its costs are relatively fixed. What this means is the company and shareholders know what it needs to do to cut expenses and maximize margins (which rose by 390 basis from last year and from the first-quarter sequentially). And, as you well know, I love cash. Dot Hill is valued at only $61 million but has $41 million in cash with no debt. This means for roughly $20 million you're getting a networking-solutions company that's on the fringe of profitability that should grow sales by 9% in 2012.
Dot Hill isn't my stereotypical buy candidate, but it offers a compelling valuation thanks to its cash and the actions management has taken to spread out its revenue.
This week it's all about stepping outside the box. These three stocks are possibly the most aggressive trio I've picked since I began picking outperforms on a weekly basis, but a mixture of cash, patents, and growth makes all three seem significantly undervalued in my eyes.
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