There's cheap, and then there's absurdly cheap. When stocks get so out of sync with what their actual valuation ought to be, investors should move quickly because it's likely they won't stay that way for long.
Such extreme discounts don't happen every day. We asked three Fool.com contributors to identify a stock they feel is skewing hard into the land of absurdity. See why Ford (NYSE:F), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B), and Party City (NYSE:PRTY) made the cut.
A juicy dividend yield
Daniel Miller (Ford Motor Company): There's plenty of doom and gloom swirling the U.S. auto industry. Between tariff threats to estimated declines for 2018 U.S. new-vehicle sales, investors have plenty of reasons to avoid automakers. That's why Ford trades at an absurd price-to-earnings ratio of 5.6.
Investors looking for a cheap dividend should consider Ford and its 5.4% forward dividend yield. Over the years, Ford's dividend has become a high priority for management to lure investors and it believes its current setup is sustainable through down cycles. Furthermore, that dividend yield doesn't include its supplemental dividend, which will pay out annually depending on the level of net income. During good years the supplement will be a nice addition, and during the bad years it will enable Ford to continue paying out its base dividend and avoid any additional payout.
Another reassuring factor is that Ford has significantly improved its vehicle quality since the past recession. In the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) -- a study measuring the number of problems surveyed consumers reported during the first 90 days of ownership -- Ford took home more model-level awards under its Ford and Lincoln brands than any other automaker, with five. In fact, it was Ford's best IQS score in the study's 32-year history.
Make no mistake, Ford also has work to do. Management understands it needs to get its business healthier and now plans to cut $25.5 billion in costs by 2022, more than its original plan of $14 billion. It also needs to catch its crosstown rival in driverless vehicle strategy. But Ford offers investors an absurdly cheap valuation, a company producing higher-quality vehicles, and a juicy dividend yield.
Beat the market with the company Buffett built
Steve Symington (Berkshire Hathaway): It's no mystery that Berkshire Hathaway has already delivered life-changing returns for early investors. But the company Warren Buffett built should be able to continue its decadeslong streak of beating the broader market with low risk thanks to its three operating segments: insurance, investing, and a group of over 60 other diversified businesses it acquired over the years.
What's more, Berkshire is sitting on a pile of more than $102 billion in cash on its balance sheet, which gives the company plenty of flexibility to put its resources to work making big new acquisitions should the market or global economy take a turn for the worse.
Better yet, Berkshire Hathaway has seen its share price tumble more than 12% from its all-time high set in late January, and trades at an attractive 1.35 times book value as of this writing. Considering Buffett himself -- as arguably the world's greatest value investor -- has repeatedly said he would use Berkshire's own cash to repurchase shares if they dropped below 1.2 times book value, I think now's a great time for investors to open or add to a position.
Rich Duprey (Party City): If Halloween can account for 20% of Party City's $2 billion in annual domestic revenue, imagine what toy sales at Christmas could do for it.
With the demise of Toys R Us as a national toy retailer, many rivals are looking to replace it, including Party City, which announced it will open dozens of pop-up stores for the holidays. Although other retailers like the once-defunct KB Toys say they will make a comeback this year by also opening up pop-up stores for Christmas, few retailers have the depth of experience -- and more importantly, success -- that Party City does.
The specialty retailer operates some 900 stores year-round, but during the Halloween selling season it opens a network of approximately 250 to 300 temporary Halloween City stores, which generated approximately $406 million last year. Not bad for a chain of stores that's open for only a month or so out of the year, though revenue can fluctuate depending upon what day of the week Halloween falls. In 2015, when Halloween fell on a Saturday, the holiday represented a quarter of Party City's domestic revenue. Last year it fell on a Tuesday.
Although analysts are expecting Party City to grow earnings at almost 25% annually for the next five years, the stock's price-to-earnings ratio represents only a fraction of that growth rate. It is currently trading at just 14 times trailing earnings and seven times next year's estimates. And the price is a hugely discounted eight times the free cash flow it produces.
With a successful and profitable business already in place, and its preparation to tap into a potential gold mine for the Christmas holidays, Party City's absurd valuation should be of interest to value investors everywhere.