3 Stocks Near 52-Week Lows Worth Buying

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.

Fabless or fabulous?
China-based RDA Microelectronics (NASDAQ: RDA  ) , a fabless semiconductor company that makes wireless connectivity and radio-frequency products, certainly didn't make any friends in March when it announced a secondary offering of 8.35 million shares. The move will boost its total outstanding share count by 17%, which, not coincidentally, is nearly the same as the amount the shares have fallen since that announcement -- 20%.

While I agree that shareholders shouldn't be thrilled with this secondary, RDA is a consistent moneymaker with a solid balance sheet and has ample emerging-market opportunities that simply can't be ignored.

From a balance sheet perspective, RDA had $117.5 million in cash ($2.44 per share) and no debt in its most recent quarterly report. Tack on an anticipated sale of 8.35 million shares at $9.25 per share, and RDA will raise in the neighborhood of $77 million in additional cash. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that RDA is setting up to make a sizable acquisition and/or planning to initiate a quarterly dividend at some point in the near future.

There's also a tremendous need and opportunity for lower-end 2G and 3G wireless components in the majority of Asia and Eastern Europe, where 4G has yet to penetrate with any efficacy. This means that while RDA's technologies might appear largely outdated to the tech-savvy investor in the U.S., understanding that RDA's customer is likely to be in the emerging markets gives it what I'd say is at least another decade of consistent cash flow. At five times forward earnings, it's worth a flier.

The revival of king coal
It was at this time last year that decade-low natural gas prices had clean-energy supporters lauding what looked like the quick demise of king coal. Natural gas, a cleaner-burning fuel, was being selected for electric-generating purposes by many utilities because its cost was significantly lower than coal prices. However, natural gas prices have essentially doubled off their lows in the past year and given hope once again to coal enthusiasts (like me) that a turnaround is at hand. That's why I feel Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU  ) , a U.S. and Australian coal miner, could be ripe for a rebound.

I do have some concerns about mining costs in its Australian operations, which will keep my expectations for a recovery tempered in the very short term, but multiple factors are working in the company's favor that should help boost its stock price over the long run.

For starters, Peabody is relying on exports to emerging markets (can you say "China"?) to drive bottom-line growth in a market where oversupply is hurting prices and demand. This is similar to the reason that I chose Arch Coal in my contrarian and value-tracking portfolio. Its long-term export contracts set up through the West Coast and Gulf of Mexico are aimed at quadrupling its export exposure by 2020. The point is that demand is out there; it just happens to be overseas at the moment.

Another key factor here is that coal still makes up better than 40% of the electrical capacity in the U.S. It's not an energy source that's bound to disappear overnight; nor will President Obama, who has embraced a push toward cleaner energies, abandon coal. In fact, Obama made it clear in his campaigns that clean coal will play an important role in helping the U.S. claim its energy independence.

With gas prices rising and coal's future looking healthy both overseas and domestically, I'd say Peabody is worth a shot here at just a shade more than  book value.

Now that's what I call a deep discount
Component suppliers to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone have ridden the company's coattails to immense success. Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ: CRUS  ) -- the maker of Apple's audio components that reduce echo cancellation, suppress noise, and provide amplification -- is a perfect case in point, rising better than 1,300% in less than four years. But when Apple warned of an iPhone 5 order slowdown in January, much to the surprise of Wall Street, it gutted Cirrus, which derives around 70% of its revenue from Apple.

Wall Street would likely cordon off Cirrus with yellow caution tape. As for me, I see it as one of the most deeply discounted companies in all of tech.

Keep in mind that we aren't talking about the death of Apple here. Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones in the first quarter -- that's a record the last time I checked. It has hardly made a dent in most BRIC countries, where growth rates are phenomenal, and it has a proven track record of sticking with innovative companies as its hardware suppliers. There really aren't any substitutes that are out there ready to take Cirrus Logic's place as Apple's audio components supplier.

From a valuation perspective, I'm not quite sure how you get any cheaper than six times forward earnings, with $148.2 million in cash and no debt on its balance sheet, and a projected revenue growth rate of 91% in 2013 and 20% in 2014. Unless Apple's market share demonstrates sizable declines globally and domestically, Cirrus remains an intriguing and strong value play.

Foolish roundup
This week it's all about cycling back into largely unwanted companies. RDA Microelectronics still offers investors promising 3G growth in emerging markets; Peabody Energy gives investors a chance to profit because of coal's ongoing role in electricity generation in the U.S.; and Cirrus Logic is Apple's go-to audio solutions company for the best-selling mobile device in the world. It doesn't get much better than that!

I'm so confident that these three names will bounce off their lows that I'm going to make a CAPScall of outperform on each one.

Is Peabody a diamond in the rough?
The coal industry in the United States has been in a state of flux since the arrival of a cheaper alternative for energy production: natural gas. Exports are becoming a much bigger part of the domestic coal landscape, and Peabody Energy has deals in place to get its cheaper coal from the Powder River and Illinois basins to India, China, and the EU. For investors looking to capitalize on a rebound in the U.S. coal market, The Motley Fool has authored a special premium report detailing exactly why Peabody Energy is perhaps most worthy of your consideration. Don't miss out on this invaluable resource -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 6:05 PM, joenyc wrote:

    You write " The move will boost its total outstanding share count by 17%".

    Actually, nearly the entire lot of shares offered were from VC's - not new shares offered by the company.

    The share count is barely changed by the 100,000 share offered by the company in the secondary. The offset is the cash doesn't change for the company.

    Also, I believe you should focus on the Free Cash Flow generation of RDA. I think its about 5x enterprise value to free cash flow, i.e ex-cash value of company is really cheap compared to its free cash flow!

    I own RDA.

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2013, at 6:06 PM, diogenes227 wrote:

    BTU and ACI may bounce short-term but investors should avoid them like the black death.

    Given the economics of natural gas and the political environment in favor of renewable energy sectors, any sustainable advance in the coal stocks is likely to be short-lived at best. Patriot Coal has already gone bankrupt and there are probably other coal companies that will follow.

    BTU is knocking on the door of its 52-week low. A earnings disappointment (not all that unlikely with this falling rock, down to 19 from 74 in two years) could send it plummeting further. ACI made a new 52-week low today under five dollars (down from 35 in two years, and more than 30 percent since Mr. Williams recommended it for his contrarian and value-tracking portfolio).

    Both these companies are in a desperate fight for what may be their very survival against environmentalists in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia as they try to establish a new market by shipping coal to China. The Pacific Northwest, the most environmentally friendly region on the continent, is obviously the last place any coal company would like to go to try to survive. Both the governors of Oregon and Washington have already called for worldwide climate change to be a primary consideration before any coal port projects be approved in their states.

    Investors need to weigh the long-term risk here since neither of these companies actually have any idea how much it's going to cost -- how much it's going to drain earnings and deplete capital -- nor any idea how long it's going to take to clear the permitting processes before they ever, if ever, will ship coal through the West Coast. Management should be asking itself whether or not In the end it is even economically feasible to try to ship coal through this costly quagmire of opposition.

    Current stock holders are pretty much stuck with this investment disaster. Virtually every buyer in at least the past two years is losing money, worse if they have a five-year perspective.

    New investors probably should look to warning from Patriot Coal -- it's the canary in these coal miners.

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