5-Star Stocks in the Bargain Bin

Everyone loves a bargain. Be it at the grocery store, the local flea market, or the neighborhood car dealership, people inherently understand the benefits of getting a great deal.

Yet despite this infatuation with bargain opportunities, it doesn't occur to many investors that buying cheap stocks is possibly the best way to get a whole lot of bang for a hard-earned buck. As legendary investor Christopher H. Browne writes in The Little Book of Value Investing, we should always attempt to "buy stocks like steaks ... on sale."

Our penny-pinching process
So, with the help of our community over at Motley Fool CAPS, I'll once again try to find some cheap stocks for all of my stingy kindred spirits.

The approach is far from complicated: We'll run a simple screen for five-star stocks (the highest rating a stock can get in CAPS) that have enterprise value-to-EBITDA (EV/EBITDA) multiples below 10. We'll use EV/EBITDA rather than the more common price-to-earnings ratio, so that we can account for differences in each company's capital structure.

Dive into the bargain bin
By running this screen, we'll zero in on statistically cheap stocks that, according to our CAPS community, have plenty of great reasons to trade at much higher levels.

So without further ado, let's dive right into this week's bargain bin:  

Company

EV/EBITDA (Trailing 12 Months)

Industry

Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)

9.4

Copper

Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF)

9.0

Steel and Iron

Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ)

8.7

Oil and Gas

Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM)

6.3

Auto Manufacturers

Trico Marine Services (NASDAQ:TRMA)

4.1

Oil and Gas Equipment

Data provided by Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Motley Fool CAPS.

As usual, our list isn't exactly brimming with exciting or even well-recognized names. But that should be just fine with us. As sharp Fools know well, boring stories often translate into the market's biggest returns.

Falling off a cliff
Nothing piques a sharp investor's interest as much as when the shares of a truly dominant company begin trending lower. Despite being down as much as 18% over recent weeks, Cleveland-Cliffs, North America's largest iron-ore mine operator, continues to receive strong support from our community. Out of the 123 CAPS All-Stars who've rated Cleveland-Cliffs, a whopping 122 are bullish.

Of course, the iron and steel sector, as a whole, has been taking a big beating lately. In addition to Cleveland-Cliffs, worries over higher inflation and slower U.S. economic growth have sent steel stocks such as U.S. Steel (NYSE: X  ) and Gerdau Ameristeel (NYSE: GNA  ) reeling over the past few days. But judging by our community's sentiment, this short-term sector weakness may provide a turnaround opportunity for prospective Cleveland-Cliffs investors. 

Take a quick peek at Cleveland's CAPS page, and you'll find plenty of arguments that center on its dominant iron-ore market share, attractive global growth opportunities, and rock-solid financials. Over the past several years, management has consistently delivered returns on equity of roughly 30% while using little to no debt -- pretty rare for a massive miner like Cleveland.

So, when you couple all of those bullish characteristics with seemingly attractive price multiples, you find that this company might be worth a closer look.

Now, let's hear from a pair of bargain hunters in our own backyard ...

  • CAPS All-Star qasimodo loves Cleveland's global appeal: "[This] company holds an exclusive position in providing iron ore for processing. Traditionally based out of the Great lakes region, it has been expanding its influence to be a global player with its recent purchase of iron ore companies in Australia and in Brazil. Due to the continued expansion and modernization efforts of China, I expect that this commodity will continue to be in demand for the next decade."
  • CAPS All-Star cheme1901 keeps it simple: "Great value, top North American producer of iron ore, large reserves, fundamentals solid. One of the top take-over targets in this industry."

A Fool's final word
As always, what we say here isn't meant to be taken as a formal recommendation. We want only to generate some possible ideas that you might find worth further research. If you'd like to scour the bargain bin for yourself, read what our CAPS community thinks, or even chime in with your own opinions, get in the game!  

Oh, and CAPS is totally free -- an offer that even the deepest of value investors should never pass up.


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