3 Stocks Near 52-Week Lows Worth Buying

Just as we examine companies each week that may be rising past their fair values, we can also find companies trading at what may be bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with companies wallowing at 52-week lows, I think it makes a lot of sense to determine whether the market has overreacted to a company's bad news, just as we often do when the market reacts to good news.

Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.

Hello, new IPO
In general, I've suggested investors keep their distance from the vast majority of new IPOs, as many have been inflated by investor emotions, rather than fundamental results. That isn't the case with the recently public Lumenis (NASDAQ: LMNS  ) , which is down from its IPO and priced at $12 -- well below its expected range of $15 to $17. 

Lumenis is a provider of minimally invasive laser-based clinical solutions for surgical and aesthetic purposes, as well as ophthalmic solutions to treat retinal conditions such as glaucoma and secondary cataract procedures. On paper, you can probably see why this company would immediately be attractive to someone like me, who fancies the health care industry. As the global population grows and ages, the need for ophthalmic surgeries to correct retinal conditions is only going to increase. Furthermore, as the world grows more self-conscious from an aesthetic perspective, the company's hair removal and scar removal procedures should also grow in demand.

While many IPOs offer the promise of future growth, Lumenis has been delivering healthy profits since 2009. Thanks to tight cost controls and a focus on overseas markets, Lumenis was able to grow its revenue by 6.5% through the first nine months of fiscal 2013 while delivering 15% growth from its Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, Asia Pacific, a considerably faster-growing region of the world, represents 33% of its total revenue, leading me to believe that it could easily grow by high single-digits for years to come. 

Obviously, Lumenis could face some weakness in the U.S. tied to the rollout of Obamacare as hospitals and consumers hold back on a number of elective procedures, but on paper, the long-term future looks bright for Lumenis, in my opinion.

Ready to check out
Another company dealing with a bit of a rough patch in recent months is national hospital-operator Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH  ) , which recently completed its purchase of HMA and now operates more than 200 hospitals in 29 states.

In its most recent quarterly results released in mid-February, Community Health delivered a sickening adjusted EPS miss of $0.15 as same-store operating admissions dropped 10.5% year over year, and adjusted admission dipped 6.7%. Were that not enough, expenses rose slightly, which moved its medical expenses ratio up by 130 basis points to 92.7%. The medical expense ratio is a measure of a hospital providers costs as compared to the revenue it receives -- anything below 100% is profitable, but the lower the number, the better.

The real crux of Community Health Systems' problems was its bad debt write-offs from treating people who were uninsured or underinsured and couldn't pay. In Q4, the company wrote off $512 million of $3.74 billion in total revenue, or 13.7%, which is extraordinarily high. 

However, Obamacare could offer Community Health a solution to at least some of its problems. The health reform law is requiring, via the individual mandate, that consumers sign up for health insurance. In addition, 26 of 50 states have so far chosen to accept federal money and expand their Medicaid programs, which could bring millions of previously uninsured members into the fold. It remains to be seen how effective Obamacare will be in signing up young adults, who are needed by insurers to help offset the higher costs of treating terminally ill and elderly patients, but simply having fewer uninsured people walking through its doors should help lower its doubtful revenue write-offs.

When these write-offs dip, Community Health's medical expense ratio will improve, leading to beefier profits, or the potential to add new equipment in its hospitals to gain a comparative advantage over its smaller peers. At roughly nine times forward earnings, skeptics seem to have more than priced the uncertainties associated with Obamacare into its share price and have given investors a good opportunity to take advantage of a company capable of strong free cash flow generation.

Digging deep for value
Yes, I was kind enough to give you a break from my constant barrage of oil and gas companies to lead off this week, but that doesn't mean I've in any way forgotten about how inexpensive energy companies, especially those tied to the Gulf of Mexico, are at the moment. Today's final possible buying opportunity is offshore supply and support vessel operator Hornbeck Offshore Services (NYSE: HOS  ) .

Hornbeck focuses predominantly on deepwater and ultra-deepwater companies and helps with the exploration, production, and development, as well as repair and upkeep, of deepwater and ultra-deepwater wells. As you might imagine, with Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) warning in recent months that a third of its deepwater rigs were still looking for work in 2014, the entire sector has taken a tumble. The expectation is that newer rigs flooding the market from SeaDrill (NYSE: SDRL  ) may cripple demand and negatively impact pricing, at least over the near term. Overall, pessimists view this as bad news for the entire deepwater sector.

However, this view is very short-sighted and doesn't take into account the growing demand for energy capture from the U.S. and other industrialized nations around the globe. Plus, SeaDrill's newer rigs are likely to hamper pricing for only a very short time as older, less efficient rigs are retired. This should leave drillers with high utilization rates, strong dayrate pricing, and plenty of reason to need Hornbeck's supply vessel services.

With Hornbeck valued at a microscopic eight times forward earnings and growing its top line by 25% per year, I think you'd be (small "F") foolish not to give this company a closer look.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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 March 18, 2014, at 7:20 PM, awallejr wrote:

    "The expectation is that newer rigs flooding the market from SeaDrill (NYSE: SDRL ) may cripple demand and negatively impact pricing,"

    This is so not true.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 9:21 PM, awallejr wrote:

    And you know Sean I am putting you to the test tell me EXACTLY how SDRL is FLOODING the market. Tell me how many rigs they put into service this last year? Here is a hint go to their website they SHOW you the rigs they are building.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 9:22 PM, awallejr wrote:

    I know you don't respond and defend your articles but I post to warn any reader that comes along.

  • Report this Comment On March 19, 2014, at 4:32 AM, Interventizio wrote:

    LMNS is a good idea. I wonder why stock has been doing so bad lately though.

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