3 Beaten-Down Stocks Worth Buying

While many investors would rather have nothing to do with stocks 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.

Could this stock cure your portfolio's ills?
Whereas much of the biotech sector has been enjoying incredible success over the past year, shareholders of antibody-drug conjugate developer ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN  ) have been banging their heads against the wall.

Specifically, three factors have worked against ImmunoGen and pushed its share price down almost 50% from its 52-week high.

First, the company's only FDA-approved compound, Kadcyla, which was developed in collaboration with Roche and is approved as a second-line treatment to HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, hasn't sold as well as Wall Street expected in the early going. Second, profitability is still years away considering Kadcyla's slow start and the substantial costs associated with ImmunoGen's more than one dozen preclinical and clinical studies currently ongoing. Finally, perhaps the biggest share price-killer of them all was the failure of in-house investigational small-cell lung cancer drug IMGN901 in a midstage trial this past November. Following a recommendation from an independent data monitoring committee, ImmunoGen stopped the study on its most advanced wholly owned compound.

There's certainly reason for shareholders to be a bit edgy, with losses expected to continue for many quarters to come, but we're also on the precipice of a number of key catalysts. Not to mention, ImmunoGen's deep pipeline, key collaborations, and unique technology could make it a viable takeover candidate.


2013 Annual Report. Source: ImmunoGen.

To start with, the catalysts surrounding Kadcyla could be too high to number over the next year. The targeted cancer therapy has begun launching in a number of new European markets and is facing a bevy of trial results between now and the end of the year, including results in first-line HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and advanced HER2-positive gastric cancer, a particularly difficult type of cancer to treat. Following positive results, both studies should lend to a regulatory submission in 2015 with an approval perhaps in late 2015 or early 2016. I'm also highly intrigued to see how Kadcyla-treated patients respond in early stage HER2-positive breast cancer studies which are currently under way.

Also, whereas some investors might view ImmunoGen's large-scale pipeline as a monumental operating expense, I view it as a testament that it's being given plenty of chances to hit a home run. Not only does ImmunoGen have three in-house compounds in development, but it also has eight established collaborative partnerships spanning 16 different preclinical or clinical compounds (some of which have multiple indications). These partnerships provide ImmunoGen with ample financial backing and a solid sales force if these therapies are approved. 

Finally, ImmunoGen's unique ADC technology could draw the attention of a larger company. Admittedly, its multiple collaborations could also work against a possible takeover offer because few buyers are willing to deal with the headaches of up to eight separate collaborative pacts. But if ImmunoGen continues to deliver more successes than failures in its trials, then it could well be takeover bait.

Banking on a rebound
Generally I'm not a big fan of knife-catching -- and the banking sector is basically a knife with two sharp edges and no handle.

With few exceptions, either during the recession or following the recession due to a number of new regulations, banking stocks of all sizes have taken a hit. In recent months Bancorp (NASDAQ: TBBK  ) has found its place in line among the cast-aside regional banking stocks, with the Delaware-based bank tumbling more than 50% from its mid-March highs.

The culprit for Bancorp's slide is twofold. First, in June the company filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating that it had entered into a "stipulation and consent to the issuance of a consent order" that would require it to take actions to shore up weaknesses in the banks' Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Program. While this move doesn't admit guilt, it doesn't exactly deny it, either, and investors took this cue to mean that Bancorp's consumer oversight could be lacking. Bancorp was also disallowed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from issuing nonbenefit reloadable prepaid cards.

Secondly, Bancorp's second-quarter results released last Wednesday put some context into what those actions would cost. For the quarter Bancorp reported $9.2 million in one-time expenses, as well as a 63% increase in loan loss reserves to $15.5 million. The end result was a net loss of $0.15 per share compared to a profit of $0.15 per share in the year-ago quarter.

Without a doubt Bancorp has some regulatory snafus to work through, and investors should recognize that these challenges could keep the company from zooming higher.

But I believe investors should also recognize that the core measures of banking success for Bancorp are headed in the right direction.


2014 first quarter investor presentation. Source: Bancorp.

Bancorp delivered an 18% increase in net interest income to $27.9 million, a 23 basis-point increase in net interest margin to 2.69% from this quarter last year, a 6% rise in non-interest income to $23.7 million, and a 20% increase in total loans to $3.8 billion. These are the core figures that should really matter to Bancorp shareholders, because once its Bank Secrecy Act headwinds blow over, it'll likely resume its uptrend. 

At its current price, Bancorp is trading just a fraction below its book value and a mere eight times its forward earnings (remember, its one-time losses have made its 2014 EPS look abysmal). I'd certainly proclaim that worthy of a deeper dive for bank-savvy investors.

A short-circuiting bargain?
Finally, I would encourage value-seeking investors to take a closer look at Exar (NYSE: EXAR  ) , a provider of analog mixed-signal integrated circuits and solutions for the networking and storage industry and the telecommunication infrastructure market.

Exar faces two main obstacles. First, its business tends to be intricately tied to the health of the U.S. economy. However, at the moment the U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders, suggesting that demand for Exar's products is likely to increase.

The second concern all Exar shareholders worry about is the downtrend in electronic component pricing. As operational efficiencies improve and competition builds to develop similar networking and telecom infrastructure solutions, Exar could discover that its margins are under pressure. Of course, there's a simple solution to this for Exar: either innovate or purchase innovative technologies.

In April Exar did just that when it announced the purchase of Taiwan-based Integrated Memory Logic for $223 million in cash.


Exar investor presentation. Source: Exar.

Integrated Memory Logic, or IML, is a leading developer of mixed-analog solutions for the flat-panel display market, such as those used in LCDs for PCs, tablets, and televisions. While this is a competitive business with tight margins, it's seeing steady increases in global demand. In addition, Exar is expected to see instant earnings accretion from the deal. More importantly, the deal allows Exar to further differentiate its product line, which should allow it to better cope with the cyclical nature of the sector.

From a value perspective, Exar has a lot to offer, though I'm eagerly awaiting the company's Aug. 6 first-quarter results, which should shed light on how much cash it now has on hand following the transaction and precisely how much of an EPS boost IML will bring Exar. At the moment, Exar offers prospective value investors a forward P/E of just 15 and top-line growth that should average around 15% over the next three to five years. Exar's business may not be the most exciting, but it's certainly worth a deeper dive for value-seeking investors.


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