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3 Stocks to Buy Near Their 52-Week Lows

By Todd Campbell, Neha Chamaria, and Daniel Miller – Jul 11, 2016 at 1:27PM

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Not all cheap stocks are worth buying, but these companies may be diamonds in the rough that investors ought to consider owning.

Image source: Getty Images.

Great companies often go on sale, and when they do, investors can take advantage of discount prices. We asked some of our top contributors to dig through their wish list and highlight stocks that have fallen, but that could be ready to head higher. Read on to find out which three stocks they picked and if they're right for your portfolio.

Catalysts on deck

Todd Campbell: One company that investors might want to consider adding to their portfolios near its one-year low is Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA).

Portola Pharmaceuticals shares took it on the chin when management reported mixed results for betrixaban, a next-generation anticoagulant that the company hopes can reshape how doctors treat patients hospitalized for serious conditions, such as heart failure and stroke. Currently, patients in that setting are treated with Lovenox, a former multibillion-dollar blockbuster.

Unfortunately, in a complicated, multi-cohort trial, an important subset of patients failed to respond significantly to betrixaban versus Lovenox. That led to a big drop in shares that new investors might find profit-friendly.

Although betrixaban fell short in one cohort, it did show a statistical advantage over Lovenox in the far bigger overall study population, and that has management still planning to submit an application for approval, pending discussions with the FDA.

Assuming the FDA doesn't object to filing betrixaban for approval, shares could pop, but a bigger reason to consider buying Portola Pharmaceuticals right now might be Andexxa.

In August, the FDA is expected to offer a go or no-go decision for Andexxa, and if given the green light, it will become the first approved antidote for use in patients taking factor Xa anticoagulants. Since factor Xa anticoagulants are dislodging warfarin as standard care, Andexxa could be a big seller. 

Of course, there's risk here that every investor should keep in mind. First, discussions with the FDA could lead Portola Pharmaceuticals to conclude betrixaban can't be approved without more study data. Second, the FDA could opt against Andexxa. Personally, I think betrixaban has a 50-50 shot at an application, but I give far better odds to an Andexxa approval. Since I think Andexxa on its own makes Portola Pharmaceuticals worth more than it is right now, this stock might be worth considering.

Image source: Getty Images.

The time is ripe to pick this fertilizer stock

Neha Chamaria: The fertilizer industry may not look like the best place to be in right now, but you simply can't ignore some of the opportunities on offer right now. Consider CF Industries (CF 1.92%), for example. The stock is down a whopping 42% as of this writing and hit its 52-week low some days ago. However, macro headwinds are largely to blame for the stock's slump, as there's nothing wrong with CF Industries per se. That's where the opportunity lies.

Nitrogen prices have been hit by a supply glut, primarily because of higher exports from China. As a result, CF's gross margin almost halved during the first quarter. But here's the interesting part: CF's sales volumes hit record quarterly highs in Q1, fueled by improving demand as well as higher production from the company's recently expanded facilities.

CF's total nitrogen capacity is expected to go up by 25% by the end of the year. I consider this a huge growth opportunity for the company as the U.S. currently imports a significant portion of its nitrogen requirements. Moreover, demand for nitrogen is relatively inelastic compared to potash and phosphate as it's the most important nutrient for key crops like corn. That paints a pretty picture for CF's future, and there's nothing better than being able to buy a growing company with a strong balance sheet during a down cycle. CF's currently trading at only 11 times trailing earnings and five times cash flows. I'd say that's pretty darn cheap, and a bargain not to be missed.

Image source: Copyright General Motors.

Shifting profit into overdrive

Daniel Miller: If you're hunting for some undervalued stocks, the automotive industry is a good place to begin searching for hidden gems. One such stock that comes to mind is General Motors (GM 0.94%). Let's take a look at its recent profits, what cookie jars its hands are in, and its dividend yield.

Let's discuss GM's previous three quarters in sequential fashion. In the third quarter of 2015 GM posted its best quarter for consolidated EBIT-adjusted ever, at $3.1 billion. GM followed that with its best fourth quarter ever, at $2.8 billion, and then a first-quarter record of $2.7 billion. Further, GM's return on invested capital hit 28.5% during the first quarter of 2016, showing management is operating the company as efficiently as ever.

Detroit's largest automaker has its hand in every cookie jar that could turn into a major trend in the future. It's announced the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which will rival Tesla's Model 3 in range and price, albeit not styling, with a battery range of more than 200 miles and a price tag of around $30,000.

The Bolt could also go hand in hand with GM's attempt to get its foot in the door of smart mobility projects; GM invested $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft and will work on strategic projects going forward. Also, while companies like Alphabet and Tesla have been working on fully autonomous vehicles, GM acquired Cruise Automation to accelerate its own autonomous vehicle development.

As of this writing, GM is trading at $28 per share, which equates to a price-to-earnings ratio of 4.3 using Yahoo Finance's trailing-12-month estimates. With the company printing money currently, investing in future trends -- and thanks to its near-52-week low, GM's dividend yield has soared to 5.2% -- it could be a good time to pick up a small position of Detroit's largest automaker.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Daniel Miller owns shares of General Motors. Neha Chamaria has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd Campbell owns shares of Portola Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

General Motors Stock Quote
General Motors
$39.75 (0.94%) $0.37
CF Industries Holdings Stock Quote
CF Industries Holdings
$106.40 (1.92%) $2.00
Portola Pharmaceuticals Stock Quote
Portola Pharmaceuticals

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