With the stock market still near record high, finding discounted stocks isn't an easy task. Locating those offering deep values, but still giving investors a growth hook, becomes even more challenging.
A deep-value stock in disguise
Steve Symington (iRobot): I generally don't pay close attention to traditional valuation metrics, but rather favor businesses with enormous runways for growth that still operate in the early stages of their respective long-term stories. To that end, I think few companies can offer as much "value" to investors today as iRobot.
iRobot is best known for its popular Roomba robotic vacuums. But its Braava floor-mopping bots are poised to become its next big catalyst for growth in the coming years, followed by iRobot's planned entrance into the multibillion-dollar robotic lawn mower market.
But that growth may not come easy.
As of this writing, shares don't "look" cheap, trading at nearly 38 times trailing-12-month earnings and almost 24 times this year's estimates. But the stock still hasn't fully recovered from a massive 30%-plus drop after the company offered conservative earnings guidance with its quarterly report in February. At the time, the company's founding CEO, Colin Angle, offered some tantalizing perspective on the future, noting that growth is accelerating in the market for home robotics and insisting that the company keep some "dry powder to drive that top-line growth." In other words, iRobot is consciously forsaking profitability in order to drive sales in these early stages.
Angle elaborated: "This is a movement in time where over the next three years the true winners in the consumer robot industry are going to be determined for the next decade."
That's why I think iRobot is a "deep-value" stock in disguise, and it could yield massive returns for investors willing to watch its story play out.
New markets, new growth
Daniel Miller (Spirit Airlines): Spirit Airlines is a low-cost airline that offers customers bare-bones ticket fares while selling everything else -- carry-on, checked bags, or any other frills -- as extra. It essentially gives consumers control of their own fare and how much they're willing to sacrifice to keep prices as low as possible -- and that approach has proven popular. But while the company has grown its top line over the past few years, its stock price has largely traded sideways and is currently sitting at a tiny price-to-earnings ratio of 6.5.
Spirit even had a mini-rally earlier in July after management announced an improved business outlook. In fact, Spirit had previously guided for its non-fuel unit costs to decline between 7.5% and 8.5% year over year, but now expects those costs to drop by roughly 11% -- suggesting strong cost control. Investors loved the news and, believing the company is positioned to post earnings per share well above consensus estimates, drove the stock up 10% on July 12.
The low-cost airliner has also added routes to its network to fuel growth. It recently announced the addition of two new routes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and that it would be adding two new small markets to its route network in the fall: Greensboro, and Asheville, North Carolina. Spirit also announced it will launch a list of routes this fall from Orlando to 11 destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will make Orlando one of its three largest markets.
The move into smaller markets and the addition of more routes should generate new traffic and revenue growth, and at a price-to-earnings ratio of only 6.5, that makes spirit a growth stock at deep-value prices.
On target for growth
Rich Duprey (Sturm, Ruger): There's no mystery as to why leading gunmaker Sturm, Ruger is trading at deep-value prices. The fear of legislation being introduced to limit the right to own a firearm was greatly diminished with the election of President Trump in 2016, and the gun market has returned to a level of normalcy.
Yet as the second largest U.S. firearms manufacturer behind Smith & Wesson, Ruger still has tremendous growth potential. Inventory channels have been cleared out as gunmakers discounted their firearms to make sales, something Ruger largely didn't participate in, which preserved its profit margins.
Demand for Ruger's guns rose 5% in the just-reported second quarter even as the market, as measured by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), fell 8%.
Having rightsized its business and production last year, the company is well positioned for the future, particularly if demand should soar once more, a possibility revived with every election cycle. With shares trading at just nine times the free cash flow Ruger produces, the gunsmith is in the bargain bin still, yet offers great potential.