Despite some volatility, the stock market remains in its longest bull market ever. But after more than nine years of gains, many stocks have steep valuations. Do investors have to wait for a major correction to find stocks with attractive prices? Not at all.
Gilead Sciences stock trades at only 11 times expected earnings. Why is the big biotech stock so inexpensive? Gilead's revenue and earnings have declined over the last couple of years on sinking sales of its hepatitis C virus (HCV) franchise.
But Gilead is a value rather than a value trap, in my view. Those HCV sales have fallen in large part because so many patients have been cured that there aren't as many left to begin treatment. However, Gilead thinks the HCV market should stabilize relatively soon.
Stabilization in the HCV market should set Gilead up for a return to growth. Market research firm EvaluatePharma expects Gilead's new HIV drug Biktarvy to be the biggest new drug launch of 2018. Biktarvy could also become Gilead's biggest and best HIV drug ever, with peak annual sales projections of close to $6 billion.
Gilead could also benefit from several other big winners over the next few years. Cancer drug Yescarta should be on track to reach peak annual sales of $2.7 billion. Gilead hopes to submit for regulatory approval next year for two other potential blockbusters -- autoimmune disease drug filgotinib and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug selonsertib.
You won't find too many growth stocks more attractively valued than Micron. The chipmaker's stock trades at a super-low five times expected earnings. That dirt-cheap valuation stems primarily from fears that the notoriously cyclical memory chip business could be headed for another big downturn.
Memory chip stocks do experience huge boom-and-bust swings. Micron is in a boom period right now, with the stock gaining close to 80% over the last 12 months. However, it's possible that history could repeat itself as Samsung and other memory chip companies increase supply, which would lead to lower memory chip prices.
On the other hand, prices only fall due to increased supply when demand doesn't grow. But demand for memory chips likely will increase. Artificial intelligence, autonomous (self-driving) cars, and cryptocurrency mining present new markets that either didn't exist or were much smaller in previous memory chip cycles. Other areas like cybersecurity, gaming, and video surveillance also present greater opportunities than in the past.
Micron has positioned itself well in supplying memory chips for these markets. That's especially true for autonomous cars. Micron began shipping its super-fast LPDDR4x memory chips to several automakers last year for use in self-driving cars. The company is also working to develop even more advanced autonomous car technology.
Walker & Dunlop
Walker & Dunlop claims a forward earnings multiple below 11. Like Micron, Walker & Dunlop operates in a cyclical industry -- in this case, commercial real estate services and finance.
The company primarily focuses on financing owners and operators of multifamily properties across the U.S. A serious slowdown in the economy would likely hurt Walker & Dunlop in several ways, including higher rates of defaults, fewer financing transactions, and lower price tags on deals made resulting from declining property values.
But the U.S. economy still appears to be healthy. Walker & Dunlop's business is doing better than ever before. Last year, the company reported its biggest jump in revenue, earnings, and total transaction volume since its initial public offering in 2011. Walker & Dunlop has increased its market share of the multifamily loan market from 2.8% seven years ago to 7.3% in 2017.
Walker & Dunlop's goal is to increase revenue by roughly 40% to $1 billion by 2020. That might seem overly ambitious, but I think the company can achieve its objective. Investors will also be paid as they wait for Walker & Dunlop's growth: The company recently initiated a quarterly dividend.
These stocks are bargains primarily because many investors have a short-term perspective and are worried about what might happen. Gilead Sciences' revenue and earnings are falling right now. Memory chip prices could plunge, taking Micron's share price down as well. Higher interest rates could lead to a contracting economy, causing problems for Walker & Dunlop.
The better approach, though, is to think long term. Gilead Sciences has some great new products and others on the way. Micron is positioning itself to be a key player in several markets with tremendous opportunities over the next several decades. Walker & Dunlop has carved out a niche in a market that should enjoy increasing demand over the long run, even if there are some peaks and valleys along the way.
Whether it's with cars, houses, stocks, or anything else bought and sold, bargains only exist when someone doesn't fully appreciate the real value of the item. Gilead, Micron, and Walker & Dunlop should have long-term value that their current stock prices aren't reflecting.