What an absolutely wild ride it's been for investors over the past three-plus months. It took a mere 33 calendar days between Feb. 19 and March 23 to send the benchmark S&P 500 down by 34%, and the subsequent 11 weeks for the index to gain the vast majority of its losses back. We've simply never witnessed volatility like this before in the stock market's storied history.
Interestingly, high-growth tech stocks have been largely responsible for the recent rally from the March 2020 lows. Yet a report on the long-term performance of growth stocks versus value stocks by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch finds that value stocks have handily outperformed growth stocks. The 2016-released report shows that value stocks averaged an annual gain of 17% between 1926 and 2015, compared to 12.6% for growth stocks.
Why mention this? Though growth stocks are leading the market higher for the time being, history favors those investors who seek out value. If you have $1,000 in spare cash that you won't need to pay bills or for emergencies, then consider the following value stocks, which are just begging to be bought.
Traditionally, biotech stocks aren't thought of as "value stocks." Most are losing money with the hope of one day delivering high-powered growth. But that doesn't fit the definition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), which is absolutely a value stock. Based on its double-digit growth rate and forward price-to-earnings ratio under 10, Alexion sports a PEG ratio below 1.
One of the key reasons Alexion has been such a steady grower for more than a decade is its focus on ultra-rare disease indications. Developing therapies for extremely rare indications can be risky given the small patient pool those drugs will serve. However, ultra-rare drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) often have a clear pathway to strong pricing power, and they rarely face any competition. This is a big reason why Alexion's lead drug Soliris has grown into a roughly $4 billion a year therapy.
Another catalyst for Alexion is the development and FDA approval of Ultomiris as an eventual replacement for Soliris. Ultomiris is a recycled protein that only needs to be injected every eight weeks, as opposed to every two weeks with Soliris. Considering there were concerns about Soliris eventually losing its exclusivity and contending with generic competition, the approval of Ultomiris effectively restarts the indication exclusivity clock for Alexion.
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you -- gold-mining stocks can be value stocks, too. British Columbia-based SSR Mining (SSRM 1.59%) is currently valued at a little over 11 times next year's forecast earnings per share and is trading at only 6 times Wall Street's projected cash flow per share for 2021. From my personal experience investing in gold stocks, 10 times cash flow is a fair valuation.
One of the more exciting developments for SSR Mining is its pending "merger of equals" with Alacer Gold (ALIAF), which is expected to close following shareholder votes in July. The all-share deal will combine Alacer's Copler Mine in Turkey with SSR Mining's three producing assets (two gold mines, and one silver mine). When complete, the new SSR will have the ability to produce close to 780,000 gold equivalent ounces a year at an all-in sustaining cost of around $900 an ounce, and yield an estimated $450 million in free cash flow a year. In other words, more value can be extracted by combining both companies than in staying separate.
SSR Mining also has one of the best balance sheets in the entire mining industry. Whereas most gold stocks have more debt than cash on hand, SSR should have in the neighborhood of $200 million in net cash and cash equivalents in the post-merger environment. This could lead to the implementation of a dividend, or perhaps a share buyback program.
Although the airline industry is one I typically advocate investors avoid, the fact remains that people are eventually going to take to the skies once again. Even if some airlines go bankrupt under the weight of terrible balance sheets, the demand for aircraft will remain relatively strong. That's why Air Lease (AL -1.43%), which is trading at 72% of its book value and less than 7 times 2021's forecasted earnings, should be considered by value investors.
If the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taught major airlines anything, it's that they, once again, got too giddy with their expansion efforts. Rather than outlaying big bucks to modernize their fleets, we're liable to see major, and even national or regional airlines turn to leasing as a means of minimizing their upfront expenditures. This trend is unlikely to be visible to Air Lease over the next couple of months, but it should become quite noticeable by 2021 and beyond.
Air Lease also has the liquidity and cash flow to survive the carnage in the airline space. Despite management expecting rental concessions and perhaps even repossessions, Air Lease ended the first quarter with a 99.7% lease utilization rate, 90% collection rate, and continued to pay its $0.15 quarterly cash dividend. With $6.3 billion in total liquidity, Air Lease is in much better shape than traditional airlines, and is therefore the much smarter buy for value investors betting on a rebound in the travel industry.