No matter how stoic you are, watching your stocks drop sharply is unnerving.
At Motley Fool Hidden Gems, we haven't been immune to the sudden and severe haircuts Mr. Market has doled out recently. Since last September, we've had positions decrease by 20%, 30% ... even 50%.
And frankly, we're excited about it.
Sure, seeing those big red numbers can be painful, but we know that volatility presents great opportunities for patient investors to profit. That's particularly true when a company's fundamentals and business prospects haven't declined -- but its stock price has.
In a report called How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Volatility, Lord Abbett senior economist Milton Ezrati showed how market volatility "can actually help build wealth over time, especially for longer-term investors."
According to Ezrati, regularly adding new money in a volatile market allows an investor to purchase more shares at cheaper prices, thus lowering the effective cost basis. Interestingly, Ezrati's findings hold true whether prices are rising or falling.
Of course, few investors feel like adding new money when the market seems to shift momentum at the drop of a hat -- but this is exactly the time to consider committing new capital.
Ready to commit that capital? You're in luck -- the market has put many fine companies on sale.
My Foolish colleague Tim Hanson recently highlighted a few stocks that he felt were outrageously cheap. Now, Tim's a great analyst and a deadeye three-point shooter (we play basketball after work), but I wasn't terribly outraged when I saw how cheap his stocks were.
These stocks are cheap
In fact, many good stocks are cheap right now. Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR ) and Under Armour (NYSE: UA ) have been halved. The same can be said of Noble (NYSE: NE ) , Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB ) , and Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG ) , which is trading at its lowest price since 1998.
Even supposedly "recession-resistant" stocks are feeling the pain. General Mills (NYSE: GIS ) shares have fallen by 17% from their 52-week high.
But there's a reason
I think those are all fine companies, and at today's prices, there's a decent chance they'll go on to post market-beating returns. But there's a reason each of them has fallen, be it decreased consumer spending, competitive concerns, plummeting energy prices, or general recession-fueled fears.
The key to exploiting market volatility is to find situations in which the share price has fallen, but the company's business fundamentals have remained unchanged (or even improved!). We have a few companies that fit that bill at Motley Fool Hidden Gems, including one candidate that looks ripe for new money now.
Don't be chicken
The company is Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD ) . As the name suggests, this sports bar serves chicken wings and beer, primarily to men aged 25 to 40. The business sounds simple enough, but B-Wild is steadily building a national presence where none currently exists. The company now operates 588 locations in 40 states, up from just 200 in 2002.
Despite rising chicken-wing prices and softer consumer spending, B-Wild's first-quarter revenue increased by 35% year over year, while net income rose by 30%. What's more, management reiterated that it should meet its targets of 15% unit growth, 25% revenue growth, and 20% to 25% earnings growth in 2009. Yet even though the company continues to fire on all cylinders, the stock is trading about 25% off its 52-week high!
Buffalo Wild Wings is exactly the type of opportunity we look for at Hidden Gems: It's an underfollowed small cap with a strong balance sheet, shareholder-friendly management, and the ability to generate steady free cash flow. Better yet, the company's share price has been beaten down, even though its future prospects continue to look bright.
We have quite a few companies that meet these criteria on our radar, and some of them are looking pretty darn cheap. If you'd like to start profiting from the recent market volatility, click here to take a free 30-day trial of the Hidden Gems service. As always, there is no obligation to subscribe.
This article was first published Feb. 5, 2008. It has been updated.
Rich Greifner has learned to love flaxseed oil, volatility, and the bomb. Rich owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings and Under Armour, which are both Hidden Gems recommendations. Under Armour is also a Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.