While many companies' shares are rising past their fair values now, others are trading at potentially bargain prices. The difficulty with bargain shopping, though, is that you may be understandably hesitant to buy stocks wallowing near their 52-week lows. In an effort to separate the rebound candidates from the laggards, it makes sense to start by determining whether the market has overreacted to a company's bad news.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
The sun will come out tomorrow
It's been a rough year for solar stocks -- especially San Jose-based SunPower (SPWR 1.65%), which is down 75% year-to-date.
The concerns with SunPower are twofold. First, spotty demand among solar panel manufacturers has hurt pricing and margins throughout the industry. The dramatic fall in both oil and natural gas prices has reduced the urgency for businesses and consumers to consider making the change from fossil fuels to solar.
The other more immediate concern has been financing. Earlier this year SunEdison filed for bankruptcy, and some Wall Street pundits are concerned that, with financing hard to come by, more industry failures could be on the horizon.
The good news, for those of you able to withstand a potentially risky and volatile investment, is that SunPower could be just the bright spot your value portfolio needs.
For starters, while SunPower's balance sheet may not be in as great shape as those of its peers, it does have a plan to reduce its debt and increase its cash on hand by the end of the year. As my Foolish colleague and solar industry expert Travis Hoium highlighted this past weekend, $871 million of SunPower's debt is associated strictly with SunPower's projects and not the company itself. With SunPower planning to sell a majority of these projects in the coming months, it should be able to offload a significant chunk of its debt while also increasing its cash on hand with other projects on the table. By de-leveraging its balance sheet, SunPower should be able to silence the doubters.
Over the longer term, SunPower has the benefit of a friendly photovoltaic installation forecast, at least according to GTM Research. By 2021, GTM Research anticipates that the U.S. solar industry will be installing more than 20 GW annually, more than half of which will be for utilities. Mind you, this is essentially triple the 7.3 GW installed in 2015.
Currently valued at just 80% of its book value, a PEG of 0.7, and a forward P/E of 12, SunPower could soon flip the switch for optimists.
One person's trash is another's treasure
Next on the list is a company that many investors have tossed in the trash heap recently, but that could wind up being a diamond in the rough. I'm talking about none other than medical waste and confidential disposal business Stericycle (SRCL -0.78%).
Whereas sometimes investors need to do some digging to discover why a stock is trading near a 52-week low, none is needed with Stericycle, which has missed Wall Street's profit projections, for either the quarter or full year, in three of the past four quarters. Following its second-quarter earnings release, Stericycle's full-year EPS forecast for 2016 and 2017 fell by $0.26 and $0.53, respectively.
Despite its recent weakness, there are a number of reasons why Stericycle should be a name on your value watchlist. It begins with Stericycle's ability to grow both organically and inorganically. Through the first six months of 2016, Stericycle has generated 3.7% organic revenue growth, but 28% sales growth when acquisitions are factored in. Much of this year-over-year growth comes from its acquisition of Shred-it International last year. However, cost synergies of $20 million from this deal have been delayed, causing Stericycle to push back the full realization of merger synergies from this deal to 2018. While a nuisance for short-term investors, long-term investors stand to benefit from improved margins and higher profits by 2018.
Also, some of the niche numbers that back up Stericycle's growth give hope to optimists. Over the past 20 years the company has completely reversed its trend of being heavily reliant on a handful of large customers to now generating about two-thirds of its business from smaller customers. It also operates in the niche medical waste disposal market, which is expected to grow as the U.S. population ages, helping its pricing power.
If Stericycle can keep its M&A machine churning and grow its sales organically by the low-to-mid single-digits, then this value stock should do just fine over the long run.
This value stock is healthier than you realize
Finally, value investors would be wise to get healthcare services company Kindred Healthcare (KND) on their radar.
Kindred Healthcare has found itself in the spotlight for two of the wrong reasons of late. First, Kindred, along with other healthcare service operators, has come under fire for how it reports its earnings. Though generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, is the standard measure when it comes to reporting earnings, most companies put added emphasis on non-GAAP earnings that remove one-time benefits and expenses. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been cracking down on how companies present their non-GAAP results.
Secondarily, Kindred has been punished by weaker growth rates, with revenue growth of just 0.5% in the second quarter.
Yet, with Kindred's stock trading at a three-year low, it could be ripe for the picking.
The biggest factor working in Kindred's favor is that aforementioned aging U.S. population. According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the elderly population (those aged 65 and up) is expected to nearly double to 83.7 million people between 2012 and 2050. This bodes well for Kindred Healthcare, which operated 97 transitional care hospitals, more than 600 home health units, and over 1700 non-affiliated sites of service under contract at the end of the second quarter. It's impossible to pinpoint exactly when this uptick in demand will occur, but the data suggests Kindred's long-term demand is going to pick up.
Kindred is also doing a good job of controlling its expenses and positioning itself to grow its margins. Recently, Kindred announced plans to sell 12 of its long-term acute care hospitals to Curahealth for $27.5 million. These sales should help bolster Kindred's balance sheet and increase the long-term growth potential of its remaining long-term acute care hospitals (which are far more profitable than the dozen it's selling).
Assuming Kindred can bolt-on an occasional acquisition to provide an EPS boost, its forward P/E of 10 and current dividend yield of 4.6% could be a steal.