There are thousands of publicly traded stocks to choose from, and most get little or no attention from Wall Street or investors. It's within this group of neglected stocks where the best values often lie.
We asked three of our Foolish investors to each pick an under-the-radar stock that could provide exceptional returns. Here's why CarGurus (CARG 1.54%), Hanesbrands (HBI 0.27%), and Anadarko Petroleum (APC) are worth a look.
A disruptive online automotive marketplace
Leo Sun (CarGurus): Online auto marketplace CarGurus went public last October at $16 per share and now trades in the low $30s. That massive rally made it one of the top tech IPOs of 2017, yet only five analysts follow the stock. Institutional ownership also remains low, at about 24%.
That's surprising, considering how quickly CarGurus is growing. Its revenue rose 101% in 2016 and then climbed another 65% in the first nine months of fiscal 2017. It expects to post 57%-58% sales growth for the full year. The company generates most of its revenue from marketplace subscriptions for dealers and ads from automakers and auto-related brands.
Unlike many other high-growth internet companies, CarGurus is also profitable -- although its margin remains thin. It generated $6.5 million in net income from $198.1 million in revenue in 2016, compared with a $1.6 million loss in 2015. In the first nine months of 2017, it reported $2.2 million in non-GAAP net income and $2.4 million in GAAP net income.
CarGurus could profit from the shift from offline to online sales for vehicles, which remain closer to a cyclical trough than to a peak. When auto sales rise again, CarGurus' business could boom, enabling it to do for the auto market what Zillow (Z -1.59%) did for the real estate market. But here's the catch: CarGurus isn't cheap at 12 times sales, so it might be wise to wait for a pullback before jumping in.
A bargain apparel stock
Tim Green (Hanesbrands): Manufacturing basic apparel isn't a very exciting business. It's no wonder, then, that Hanesbrands doesn't get much attention from Wall Street or investors, at least relative to the most popular stocks. For investors looking for great deals in an expensive market, away-from-the-spotlight stocks like Hanesbrands are a good choice.
Hanesbrands' performance in recent quarters has been mixed. Its core innerwear business has seen better days. During the third quarter of 2017,, innerwear sales slumped 5% year over year, with the company blaming a difficult back-to-school environment. Growth in activewear and international sales picked up the slack, leading to organic growth overall. But these are far from blockbuster numbers.
Because Hanesbrands stock is so cheap, the company doesn't need to hit it out of the park. Analysts expect adjusted earnings of $1.94 per share in 2017, putting the price-to-earnings ratio at just 11. The S&P 500 trades for well over 20 times earnings.
Hanesbrands is heavily dependent on traditional retailers, and that may become more of a liability as e-commerce continues to grow. But if you want to invest in a solid company trading at a depressed valuation, Hanesbrands is it.
The market hasn't noticed this turnaround
Matt DiLallo (Anadarko Petroleum): Shares of oil giant Anadarko Petroleum have tumbled by double digits over the past year. It's a bit of a head-scratcher, since oil is up more than 20% over that timeframe even as Anadarko has improved its ability to thrive at lower oil prices. In fact, at $50 oil, Anadarko can generate about $4.4 billion in cash flow, which is a gusher for the $47 billion company and enough money to increase oil production 14% this year. Because Anadarko can run just fine at $50 oil, it has started using its $6 billion cash war chest to buy back its cheap stock, with plans to repurchase $2.5 billion in shares by the end of the year, or almost 10% of its shares outstanding.
However, as oil prices rise, so does Anadarko's ability to generate cash. At $60 oil, the company can make enough money to increase output at a 10% to 14% compound annual rate while producing as much as $4 billion in excess cash over the next three years. Meanwhile, with crude currently in the mid-$60s, that number should head even higher, giving the company more money that it could use to repurchase its cheap stock.
Given the stock's performance over the past year, it's clear that the market hasn't noticed Anadarko Petroleum's transformation into a cash-flow machine. At some point, Wall Street will wake up, but for now, investors can buy this top-notch oil stock without paying a premium price.