It's now been more than eight years since I began singling out attractive low-priced stocks. My "5 Stocks Under $10" turf has now been invaded by rival bottom feeders.
That's OK. With so many stocks trading in the single digits these days, there are plenty of stocks to go around.
Not that the rewards are any less bountiful -- or the risks any less dangerous. Many of these beaten-down stocks are trading this low for a reason, so make sure you kick the tires on your own.
Now, let's go over this month's list.
Bare Escentuals (Nasdaq: BARE ) -- $3.66
If feel-good essentials like a can of soda, a bag of chips, and some pout-pumping lipstick are recessionary-resistant, Bare Escentuals may have missed the memo. The minerals-based cosmetics company has seen its growth stall lately, with net sales inching 2% higher and earnings falling by 9% in the company's latest quarter.
Once the economy bounces back and retailers confidently stock up on Bare Escentuals, the company's results should grow more quickly than retail sell-through levels do. The good news is that the company is still profitable and was reporting positive retail sell-through just three weeks ago. The bad news, however, is that its retailer partners are paring down inventory levels, so Bare Escentuals is expecting net sales to fall during the current quarter.
Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) -- $0.24
The satellite-radio giant did some things that were truly dilutive and interest-expense expansive last month. But it had to do those things if it wanted to stay alive as a publicly traded company. There will come a day to lick those wounds, but the important thing is that Sirius XM has bought itself time.
A lot can happen when you're a company with 19 million subscribers, entering into a groove of positive operating cash flow. You can even get a short-term restraining order against your debt demons. Of course, the demons are still present, and they're getting hungrier.
Focus Media (Nasdaq: FMCN ) -- $5.74
When SINA (Nasdaq: SINA ) announced that it will swap stock for the lion's share of Focus Media's advertising business, investors weren't sure how to react. Why would Focus Media be willing to cash out of its bread-and-butter business to pursue online advertising? Why would a new-media giant like SINA want an old-school presence?
Focus Media shares have been beaten so low, the assumption is that either SINA won't go through with the deal or that what SINA leaves behind is worth less than worthless.
This cliffhanger won't last long. SINA reports earnings tonight, and Focus Media follows next week. Either way, armed with nearly $3 a share in cash, Focus Media would have a hard time trading a lot lower than current levels, even if the deal does fall apart.
Geron (Nasdaq: GERN ) -- $4.36
You have to love Geron's timing these days. The company won FDA approval earlier this year for a study to test human embryonic stem cell-derived therapy for the treatment of spinal cord injuries. President Obama then made things even more interesting by relaxing restrictions on stem-cell research.
Geron's stock surged 13% last week, but obviously it's not trading this low by accident. The company is at least a couple of years removed from profitability. Biotech investors will also tell you that the long road to approval is full of potholes.
However, Geron's timing is once again pretty good, given the plethora of drugmaker buyouts this month. Geron may be too small -- and too risky -- to be buyout bait, but at least it's finding its way on to the radar.
Ford (NYSE: F ) -- $2.19
I'm no fan of the automakers at this moment. Few people are. Yet their unpopularity is what makes Ford such a compelling contrarian stock pick. Ford is in a pickle, but Chrysler and General Motors (NYSE: GM ) have been even more desperate in their pleas for bailout funds.
I have no idea whether the government would let GM or Chrysler fail, but if so, it's unlikely to let Ford fail, too. Besides, if GM or Chrysler sadly buckle or merge, Ford would find itself with more leverage in the domestic car market -- even if folks won't be lining up for shiny new Fords for several quarters, at least.
Five for the road
Turnarounds never happen overnight. These five stocks aren't trading in the single digits by accident. If I'm right about the catalysts, though, they may not be trading in that territory for too much longer.
Finding promising stocks while they're still cutting their baby teeth is at the heart of the Rule Breakers newsletter service that I write for. You can check out the growth-stock research service for free this month with a 30-day trial subscription. More than a dozen of its active stock recommendations are trading for less than $10 at the moment, including Bare Escentuals and Focus Media. Check those out, and I'll be back with more on the third Monday of next month.