The market overall is expensive by most traditional valuation metrics as stock indexes bounce near all-time highs while the wider economy struggles to recover from the pandemic.
Amid all the uncertainty, however, there are some unloved and absurdly cheap stocks on the market. Right now, Verizon (VZ 0.65%), ViacomCBS (PARA 9.81%), and MGM Resorts (MGM 3.55%) are too good to pass up.
The wireless giant that's built to last
It's easy to understand why investors don't love wireless stocks right now. Wireless networks are extremely expensive to build, and, given the maturity of the wireless market, there's not a lot of growth left in the industry. But that's exactly what I like about it.
Verizon has invested over $100 billion in building out its wireless network, and more investment is required for upgrades year after year. But that's what keeps competitors out, and today there are really just three wireless companies of note in the U.S.: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. There's little reason to think this oligopoly will be upended in the near future, and it should be able to squeeze more profits out than in the past as the number of competitors declines.
Even if Verizon's stock is stagnant, it could be a long-term winner for investors. The dividend currently yields 4.2%, a strong payout in a market where high-yield dividend stocks are hard to come by. And this stability and cash flow are what might make this an overlooked winner.
An unloved media company
ViacomCBS is arguably the biggest content company that missed out on the streaming revolution. The company has popular assets in its portfolio, but seemed intent on hanging on to the network and cable business longer than anyone else. And now it's been left out as Netflix, Disney, Comcast's NBCUniversal, and AT&T battle it out for streaming dollars.
So why is this an absurdly cheap stock? The fact that shares trade for just 16 times earnings is one indicator of value. But what I want to focus on is the untapped potential of the company. ViacomCBS is currently worth $22 billion, a fraction of bigger streaming rivals Netflix and Disney.
The company isn't likely to build a streaming giant like the others have, but it has other options. It can license content it has to other streaming companies, it's already built niche services like Pluto TV and Noggin, and there's the continued cash flow from the traditional cable TV business. There's also the possibility someone buys the company outright for its media assets.
ViacomCBS may not be the best media company in the world, but it's cheaper than most media stocks at 16 times earnings, and will find ways to make money for investors even if it isn't the go-to name in streaming.
More than meets the eye
MGM Resorts is known for its casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, but that's not where the company's long-term cash flow growth will come from. The company is one of just six operators in Macao, where it generated $735 million in EBITDA in 2019, a proxy for cash flow from resorts. That was nearly a quarter of the company's $3.0 billion in EBITDA, despite having just two resorts in Macao.
If we look at MGM's Las Vegas casinos as the foundation for operations, Macao is what makes this a cash flow machine -- but it's online gambling that could drive the stock in the future. MGM is already one of the largest legal sports betting operators in the U.S., and with a national casino presence, it has a leg up on competitors in getting into the market. Legal online gambling is a small but growing business. In New Jersey, $4 billion has already been bet on sports online, and that's with two months left to report. Project that nationwide and sports gambling could be a high-margin, multi-billion dollar business for MGM Resorts.
Price to earnings ratios aren't the best valuation metric for casino stocks, but the PE multiple is just 11.1 right now. Another way to look at it is that MGM's market cap of $15.3 billion is just over 5x the EBITDA generated in 2019. If business returns to 2019 levels in the next year or two, this stock could be a steal -- and that's even before accounting for online gambling revenue, which is the icing on the cake.
A lot to like from these overlooked stocks
Verizon, ViacomCBS, and MGM Resorts have all been largely left out of the market's recovery, but that doesn't mean they won't be great buys long-term. These stocks have great businesses behind them, and for investors willing to buy and hold they could generate great returns.