It's not hard to find stocks priced below $20 per share right now. The COVID-19 crisis turned Wall Street upside down in 2020, and there are plenty of inexpensive stocks on the market, even after the solid recovery we saw over the summer.
With great risk comes great potential returns, but some low-priced tickers are trading at a discount for good reason. You need to avoid these landmines in your search for strong companies that will survive this crisis and thrive in 2021.
Here are three great tech companies that are trading at very modest share prices today. Let me explain why they look like great buys at these low prices.
1. Nokia: $4 per share
You may know Nokia (NYSE:NOK) as a former heavyweight in the mobile-phone market. The Finnish company's handsets from the pre-smartphone era are still celebrated as indestructible tanks that earned their market-leading wings the hard way.
Nokia's pocket-sized share price obscures the company's substantial market cap of $23.5 billion. The stock has been trading at single-digit dollars per share since 2011 when Android and iPhone devices were making not-so-smart phone models obsolete in a hurry. Nokia executed several stock splits in the dot-com era. A single Nokia share in early 1995 was split into 64 shares five years later.
That made sense at the time because the stock price would have surged above $3,700 per share in 2001 without these moves. The other two stocks in this article followed similar paths to today's low stock prices, going through some hard times after a period of skyrocketing share prices.
Times have changed, and Nokia plays a very different role in the mobile industry today. The company is a leading provider of equipment and services on the infrastructure side of mobile networking. These days, that puts Nokia in a prime position to benefit from the global rollout of 5G wireless networks.
The stock is cheap for historical reasons that don't apply to Nokia's current business operations. It's a low-priced direct play on the emerging 5G market. I'm so impressed by Nokia's long-term value that I started a position of my own last month.
2. Flex: $18 per share
Electronics design and manufacturing expert Flex (NASDAQ:FLEX) squeaks in just below our target price of $20 per share. The stock has gained 40% over the last year and still looks cheap, trading for 12.8 times forward earnings estimates.
The company took a big hit from COVID-19 complications in the spring but roared back to life over the summer. Clients in the healthcare and automotive markets are sending in solid orders. Looking ahead, management sees fantastic growth following from the rise of electric cars and alternative energy sources.
On that note, Next has an ace up its sleeve in the NEXTracker sun-tracking system that helps solar farms optimize their energy output. NEXTracker looks like a billion-dollar business in the making, which adds a ton of value to Next's modest $9 billion market cap.
3. LG Display: $8.20 per share
Finally, LCD and OLED screen manufacturer LG Display (NYSE:LPL) slides in at $8.20 per share and a market cap of $6.2 billion. This is more than just the screen-building arm of Korean electronics giant LG. Started as a joint venture between LG and Dutch device-maker Philips, LG Display built a diverse roster of clients before Philips sold its share of the company in 2008. LG Display continues to serve the mobile and consumer electronics markets at large, still counting iPhone maker Apple among its largest clients.
The stock has gained 22% in 2020, in large part thanks to the work-from-home and online-school trends of the coronavirus era. People need more digital screens than ever before.
LG Display expects the high demand for screens to stick around for years to come. The company increased its manufacturing capacity by 15% in the third quarter alone by upgrading older OLED factories and opening a brand new facility in China. That jump was achieved despite tight cost controls, as LG Display's management is handling the company purse "under the worst-case scenario to respond to uncertainties and volatility in the business environment."
In short, LG Display lets you invest in both OLED screens and smartphone growth without shelling out more than $100 per share for Apple and Universal Display.