You would think that with so many Wall Street analysts out there, and with multiple 24-hour news channels dedicated to business and investing, that no company would ever get overlooked. Somehow, though, for one reason or another, some great companies don't get the attention they deserve. For long-term investors with a nose for unappreciated bargains, these overlooked stocks can be great opportunities.
So we asked three of our contributors to highlight a stock they think the market is overlooking today. Here's why they picked oil and gas pipeline company Kinder Morgan (KMI 2.44%), Ferrari (RACE -0.28%), and oil and gas equipment manufacturer National Oilwell Varco (NOV -0.12%).
A business punished for doing the right thing for the long term
Chuck Saletta (Kinder Morgan): One key complaint about Wall Street is that it's overly focused on the very short term. Anything further in the future than the next quarter or two frequently gets devalued. Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan currently might be among the best examples of a company getting punished by Wall Street for doing the right thing for its long-term future.
In late 2015, Moody's warned that it was considering downgrading Kinder Morgan's debt rating after the pipeline giant stepped in to bail out the struggling National Gas Pipeline Company of America. In order to protect its debt rating, Kinder Morgan slashed its dividend by 75%. Not long after that cut, Kinder Morgan's stock dropped to a low of $11.20 per share as income-oriented investors abandoned it for potentially greener pastures.
Since then, its shares have been slowly inching their way back up, as the company has used its cash flow to shore up its balance sheet and internally fund much of its expansion plan. The company's recovery is well on track, and it even hopes to be able to resume increasing its dividend next year. Its shares slipped below $20 again recently, though, in part on the news that it had filed for an IPO for its Canadian business in order to raise capital for its Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
The company had previously announced that to protect its balance sheet while still expanding, it would either seek a partner or IPO the Canadian unit. After investigating partnership offers, it apparently determined that the IPO was the better move. So once again, its shares are under pressure because it's making a financing move that is likely in its best long-term interests.
Thanks to the market's short-term focus, Kinder Morgan seems very much like a great, potentially overlooked, investment.
A Ferrari-powered portfolio booster
John Rosevear (Ferrari): Did you know that Ferrari is a public company? And that its stock has doubled in the past year?
That's news to a lot of people. But I think the Italian supercar maker is deserves a closer look from investors who might be interested in a growth story that isn't an all-or-nothing bet.
For starters, Ferrari isn't a typical automaker. In terms of margin and pricing power, it's a lot more like a luxury-goods company -- with a sideline of operating one of the world's most widely followed sports teams. These factors cushion it from the ups and downs of the world's economies, and give it a level of profitability that's far beyond what most automakers can manage even in the best of times.
Consider: Ferrari will ship only about 8,400 of its much-coveted cars this year, but each of those sales will bring home a lot of profit. The company's EBIT margin was 21.6% in the first quarter. Contrast that with Toyota's (TM 0.57%) at 5.9%, or General Motors' (GM -0.09%) at 8.2%. Clearly, Ferrari is a different kind of business.
Ferrari also has a growth plan. While the company has long limited its production to preserve exclusivity (and pricing power), CEO Sergio Marchionne thinks that strong demand from newly wealthy folks in places like China and Russia gives the company room to boost its production without denting margins. He plans to raise production to around 10,000 Ferraris a year, while building occasional limited-edition models that can be sold at (very) high prices to the brand's wealthy fans. (How high? Think well into seven figures.)
Ferrari's stock isn't cheap now at about 28 times its expected 2017 earnings. But that valuation isn't out of line for a luxury-goods maker -- and it's likely to post substantial profit growth over the next few years. For growth-minded investors who like some fun with their profits (and a racing team to cheer for) Ferrari shares could be just the thing to park in your portfolio.
A multistage recovery approaching for this oil services giant
Tyler Crowe (National Oilwell Varco): This has been a unique oil recovery. Thanks to advancements in shale drilling and fracking, and the rapid decline in costs for this new extraction technique, we have seen a bifurcation of the market. Many U.S. shale basins have decent rates of return at today's oil price of around $50 a barrel, so producers have dedicated more and more of their capital spending to exploiting shale rather then other crude sources, such as offshore fields.
For an equipment manufacturer like National Oilwell Varco, this split market has created a peculiar dynamic. Business has picked up in recent quarters for its two units that sell products geared for land drilling and shale development, but its offshore-centered business segments continue to decline.
Let's just say that Wall Street hasn't viewed these results too kindly; shares of National Oilwell Varco are trading close to their bottom-of-the-cycle price, despite the fact that it generates enough cash to cover all its capital spending, acquisitions, and still pay down debt afterward. The strong performance of its onshore and shale businesses will help National Oilwell Varco get through the weaker times in the offshore business.
Here's the real kicker, though: Shale drilling alone won't be able to meet the needs of the oil market as demand grows and the natural decline from other sources reduces supply. Eventually, offshore drilling will pick back up again, at which time the extraction companies will need National Oilwell Varco's equipment to reequip their idle rigs and restart the newbuild cycle. When that happens, investors should expect a sharp rise in earnings, and a commensurate boost in valuation for this company that will make today's stock price look like a great entry point.