With the stock market breaking barriers and hitting new all-time highs on a regular basis, it's almost hard to believe that, just 10 months ago, equities were in their steepest bear market tailspin in history. Thankfully, the patience of long-term investing has once again paid off.
Unfortunately, not all stocks have been big-time winners in this bounce-back rally. While growth stocks and virtually anything having to do with technology have thrived, select companies and industries have been nothing more than an afterthought. It's among these turnaround plays that investors can find some truly hidden gems.
Right now, there are three turnaround stocks that, according to Wall Street's one-year consensus price targets, offer upside ranging from 75% to as much as 84%. These are businesses that Wall Street thinks you should have on your radar -- and possibly in your portfolio.
Kinross Gold: Implied upside of 75%
The first bounce-back stock that Wall Street believes offers lustrous return potential is gold mining company Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC). Although Kinross is up 60% over the trailing year, it's down 58% over the past decade. But if Wall Street is correct, shares of this nearly large-cap gold stock offer upside of 75%.
One reason to be excited about Kinross is the expected appreciation of its primary asset, gold. The Federal Reserve has pledged to keep lending rates at or near historic lows through 2023, all while continuing its monthly bond-buying program that's further weighing on yields. At the same time, Washington is passing fiscal stimulus tied to the coronavirus pandemic that's ballooning the deficit. All of this is great news for physical gold, which is often viewed as a store of value.
More specific to Kinross, the company is firing on all cylinders. In the quarter ended in September, Kinross took a 30% higher average realized gold price and turned it into a 60% increase in attributable margin, and a more than doubling in operating cash flow. If its $970 all-in sustaining cost/gold oz. proves accurate, this will equate to a margin of close to $900 per gold ounce.
Aside from reasonably efficient operations, Kinross has additional means to expand its annual production by approximately 20% over the next three years. This will be accomplished through mine life expansion at Chirano, accelerated production at Fort Knox (yes, that's the actual mine name), and improved output from the northern portion of the Bald Mountain mine. An extra 500,000 ounces of gold equivalent output (GEO) would place Kinross at 2.9 million GEO annually by 2023.
Considering how inexpensive Kinross is relative to its cash flow (3.6 times Wall Street's forecast cash flow per share in 2022), Wall Street may well be onto something here.
Valens: Implied upside of 76%
Wall Street is also exceptionally bullish on ancillary Canadian marijuana stock Valens (OTC:VLNCF). Shares of Valens are down 35% over the trailing year, but are forecast by Wall Street to gain 76% over the coming year.
Before digging into what analysts see in Valens, let's cover why it's been clobbered over the past year and change. The issue for cannabis processor Valens can be traced to federal and provincial regulators dropping the ball in Canada. Federal regulators delayed the launch of higher-margin derivatives until mid-December 2019, while certain provinces (ahem, Ontario) struggled to assign dispensary licenses. Long story short, derivative supply bottlenecked in key provinces, and value-based dried cannabis priced higher-cost derivative products out of the market. In short, processing demand fell off a cliff.
The good news is that Valens didn't keep trying to swim against the stream. It bit the bullet, so to speak, and sold off its higher-priced oil inventory at rock-bottom prices in the fourth quarter. With a focus on white-label manufacturing, Valens now aims to cater to value-focused consumers who crave oils and other derivative consumption options. For Valens, this move was short-term pain to yield long-term gains.
Furthermore, many of the supply issues that have plagued Canada since recreational weed sales began in October 2018 should be abating in 2021. In particular, Ontario shelved its ineffective lottery system for assigning retail store licenses at the end of December 2019. As Ontario, Canada's most populous province, gains a reasonable retail presence, there will be ample opportunity for Valens to succeed.
This is a company that requires patience from its shareholders, but it has all the tools needed to be a long-term winner.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals: Implied upside of 84%
However, the biggest upside of all among turnaround stocks might just be Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ICPT). Down 73% over the trailing year, Intercept is one of the market's worst-performing stocks. But according to Wall Street's one-year consensus price target, the company offers 84% upside.
The reason Intercept lost three-quarters of its value in 2020 has to do with the receipt of a Complete Response Letter (CRL) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late June regarding obeticholic acid as a treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Despite meeting one of its two co-primary endpoints in the phase 3 Regenerate study, the FDA issued the CRL on the grounds of insufficient safety and benefit data. Ocaliva does carry a black box warning about overdosing associated with its approved use in treating primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).
Now for the good news. Intercept has been working with the FDA to discuss what measures will be necessary to resubmit its new drug application (NDA). According to a November company update, safety data from ongoing studies, along with additional obeticholic acid efficacy from the Regenerate trial, may prove sufficient for an NDA resubmission. Since NASH has no approved treatments, Intercept's obeticholic acid could become a blockbuster drug, even if it's targeted at a small subset of NASH patients.
The other consideration here is that Intercept has growth from Ocaliva in PBC to fall back on. Most biotech stocks trade at a multiple of at least 3 times their peak annual sales potential. Ocaliva is expected to bring in up to $320 million in 2020 for PBC, and it's still modestly growing in that indication. Intercept closed on Jan. 20 with a market cap of $939 million, so investors are essentially being given a free bet on obeticholic acid as a treatment for NASH.
In terms of risk versus reward, the betting favors optimists.