Some stocks might not appear to be cheap at first glance, but once you understand their particular dynamics, they're attractively valued. Other stocks, though, are cheap no matter how you look at them.
Oaktree Capital Group (NYSE:OAK), Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ:STX), and Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD) definitely belong to the latter group. These three stocks are undeniably cheap. But are they smart picks for investors over the long run?
Oaktree Capital Group
Oaktree Capital Group stock trades at less than 11 times expected earnings. That's a low valuation by itself, but the asset manager looks even more attractive factoring in the distributions that it pays and its growth prospects.
Let's first look at Oaktree's distributions. Its yield currently stands at 6.82% -- definitely a plus for income-seeking investors. However, how much Oaktree pays out varies considerably from quarter to quarter. In the third quarter, for example, the company reduced its distribution payout by more than 50% compared to what it paid in the second quarter. Still, Oaktree's return of cash to investors is a big plus.
As for growth prospects, Wall Street analysts project the company will be able to grow earnings by nearly 13% annually over the next five years. While that estimate could be overly optimistic, Oaktree is confident about its ability to grow its business through multiple channels, including investing in distressed debt and emerging markets.
Seagate Technology's year hasn't been so great, with the stock falling more than 15% by early August. However, the hard-drive maker's share price has rebounded significantly, thanks to better-than-expected results in its fiscal 2018 first-quarter report just a couple of weeks ago. But Seagate stock still looks cheap even with the bounce, with shares trading at less than nine times expected earnings.
Like Oaktree, Seagate's cheap stock price is accompanied by an attractive dividend and good growth prospects. The dividend currently yields 6.94%. Although Seagate is using most of its earnings to fund the dividend right now, the company's cash flow appears to be sufficient to keep the dividends flowing.
Analysts expect Seagate to increase earnings by 18% annually over the next five years. Even with significant competition, Seagate thinks it will benefit from higher demand for storage thanks to the tremendous growth in data generated by organizations across the world.
Steel Dynamics stock trades at less than 13 times expected earnings. Even better, the steelmaker's price-to-earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio stands at 0.69. Stocks with PEG ratios of less than 1 are typically considered to be reasonable bargains.
As you might expect, Steel Dynamics' fortunes hinge primarily on steel prices. The bad news for the company is that steel prices in the U.S. have been relatively low, in large part due to high levels of steel imports. The good news, though, is that Steel Dynamics remains one of the strongest steelmakers in the country, with Credit Suisse calling it the "most capital efficient U.S. steel company."
Steel Dynamics' dividend is solid as well, although its yield of 1.65% pales in comparison to that of Oaktree and Seagate. However, the steelmaker currently uses only 27% of earnings to fund its dividend, which bodes well for the company's ability to raise its dividend in the future.
My view is that all three of these cheap stocks are good picks over the long run. Keep in mind, though, that Oaktree Capital and Steel Dynamics are especially dependent on the broader economy.
Oaktree CEO Jay Wintrob acknowledged this fact in his third-quarter comments, saying, "At this point in the cycle, we continue to deploy capital across our strategies in a cautious and disciplined manner, and we continue to capitalize on the current market environment by actively harvesting investments." However, that "harvesting" of investments could help Oaktree when great investment opportunities arise.
For Steel Dynamics, sustained demand in the construction sector, particularly in the non-residential portion of the market, is key. If this demand persists and steel prices rise, Steel Dynamics appears to be well-positioned for nice gains.
Seagate Technology also is susceptible to overall economic conditions. However, I agree with the company's view that demand for data storage will grow tremendously in the future and provide a nice tailwind for the stock.