A stock's price doesn't normally mean much from an investment standpoint, whether it's $10 or $10,000, because its market cap is just shares outstanding times stock price. And it's market cap that really matters. But companies typically try to avoid letting their stock prices fall below a certain threshold because it's seen to be a point of weakness for investors. Below $1 is usually a sign of disaster, but even below $10 can be a warning sign.
As a result, most stocks trade for over $10. But there are some opportunities in single digits for those willing to take the risk on what could be great value stocks. My three top stocks below $10 are Ford (F 1.37%), Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT 2.95%), and Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF-A -3.43%), which are all turnaround stories in one way or another.
If Ford was only a traditional auto manufacturer, I wouldn't be interested in the stock. But this is a company that has invested heavily over the last few years in building an electric vehicle (EV) business and an autonomous-driving company that could one day be worth more than its manufacturing operations.
I'll start with EVs because those are the immediate upside. The Mustang Mach-E with up to 300 miles of range is coming out later this year, and all-electric F-150s and Transits are expected in the next two years. The F-150 is where the business could really change, with the high price point of high-end trucks potentially allowing Ford to make a profit on electric vehicles.
Where I think the future really gets exciting is with the company's 40% stake in Argo AI. The company is producing an entire self-driving system that will likely be used in a fleet of autonomous vehicles as early as 2022. Ford hasn't laid out exactly what that business model is, but I think autonomous driving is the future, and companies like Ford and Argo AI are set up to define what the industry looks like.
Ford's market cap is only $30 billion, and that could end up being a steal if Argo AI upends transportation with self-driving taxis or delivery options. In the meantime, Ford can expand its EV production and may get back to free cash flow positive in the second half of 2020, despite the global pandemic.
Some companies have weathered the coronavirus pandemic with ease. Goodyear isn't one of them. But that's why I like the stock at under $10 today.
Goodyear suffered from multiple factors that hit the business in 2020, and that's making the bottom line look much worse than the long-term fundamentals would indicate. One is that auto manufacturing is down, which has hurt demand for tires. But the other is that dealers are reducing inventory, which exacerbates the reduction in end-user demand. The result is the sharp drop in revenue and earnings you see below.
But with this struggle comes opportunity. Goodyear's market cap is just $2.3 billion, and the company was profitable until late in 2019 with net income popping over $400 million in 2017. If it returns to that level of profitability, shares trade for less than six times earnings. There's some historical precedent here too. Shares and earnings have struggled going into and during recessions, but when the recession ends earnings and the stock rebound.
This makes sense because coming out of a recession the cycles hurting Goodyear start to reverse. Namely, more vehicles are built and dealers stock up on depleted inventory.
To be clear, the road ahead isn't easy. Goodyear is in a competitive market and is often at the whims of automakers, commercial customers, and consumers' tire replacement schedules. If history holds, these trends will turn in Goodyear's favor again as the current recession ends and the economy starts to improve. And that's when the stock could recover. This is a turnaround story, no doubt, but at this low a stock price, I think the opportunity is worth the risk.
Small studios have been in a precarious position over the last few years as streaming giants like Netflix and Disney consolidate distribution power and create content for their own use. Lions Gate is one of a few companies left out in the cold, whether that's at the box office or in streaming wars.
That isn't to say the company doesn't have a presence in streaming. Over-the-top subscribers grew to 11.4 million globally in the most recent quarter, and its Starz Network has at least a little traction in the market. But the company has still struggled financially as it's squeezed on both the production and distribution side.
Where I think this could be a comeback story for investors isn't in Lions Gate building a competitor to Netflix, but rather in teaming up with others to get content out. That could be in the form of an acquisition or merger or even content deals on other streaming platforms.
Content is still valuable in the media landscape, and with 17,000 titles in its library, Lions Gate will be valuable to someone, even if its future isn't as a stand-alone business.
Cheap stocks worth betting on
Each of these stocks has risks associated with its potential turnaround. But I think the foundation is strong with Ford investing in EVs and autonomous driving, Goodyear looking forward to a cyclical rebound, and Lions Gate with opportunities to find new ways to distribute content in a digital world. If any one of the companies can turn operations around, it could be a big winner for investors.