Is there life after the dollar menu?

Stocks that find themselves trading for less than a buck these days still have a glimmer of hope. Each month, I've singled out five intriguing stocks trading for less than $1.00. Three of last month's five stocks are now trading back above a buck.

Buck the trend
This monthly column isn't intended to be a buy list, despite last month's successful turn. These are still very risky stocks. However, a quality company that has simply fallen way out of favor may bounce back stronger than the market when favorable sentiment returns. 

Let's go over this month's five names, based on last night's closing prices.

Candela Laser (NASDAQ:CLZR) - $0.67
You're not looking so hot, Candela -- a bad sign for a company specializing in cosmetic surgery laser equipment. The company has struggled lately; revenue in its latest quarter fell by 24%, as a loss reversed last year's meager profit.

Candela is also locked in a patent-infringement dispute with Palomar Medical (NASDAQ:PMTI) over its hair-removal lasers. However this all plays out, the dicey economy makes this a tricky time to make a living on others' vanity. Still, the lone analyst following Candela sees top-line growth and narrower bottom-line losses next fiscal year. That's a good start for a company that traded as high as $24.08 in May 2006.

Sanmina-SCI (NASDAQ:SANM) - $0.55
A small share price doesn't always portend a small company. This provider of outsourcing manufacturing solutions for the electronics industry topped $7 billion in sales last year. Thin margins and cyclical profitability have kept its stock low.

Perhaps more importantly, given the risk profile of these buck-busters, Sanmina is a survivor. Since going public 15 years ago, it has weathered plenty of tech booms and busts, always finding a way to come out alive.

Stein Mart (NASDAQ:SMRT) - $0.99
The newest addition to our roster, Stein Mart broke the buck for the first time in recent memory during yesterday's rising market. The apparel and fashion-accessories retailer has been around since 1908, but it's feeling pretty vulnerable these days. It even suspended its dividend earlier this year -- a pity, since the stock would be packing an eye-popping yield of 25% right now, based on last year's payout rate.

So what's missing at Stein Mart these days? Shoppers! Comps fell by a sharp 14% last month, and they're down 11% through the first 10 months of the company's fiscal year.

RF Micro Devices (NASDAQ:RFMD) - $0.86
The chips are down at this semiconductor company, and they've been falling in a hurry. The stock got slammed earlier this month, after RF announced that its current-quarter revenue would come in 15% to 20% below the low end of the original guidance it issued less than two months ago.

The upside here is that RF expects margins to hold up, allowing the company to at least break even during the quarter. Meanwhile, it's wisely preparing for the soft economy by scaling back on capital expenditures, paying down its debt, and lowering its corporate overhead.

Jamba (NASDAQ:JMBA) - $0.70
I'm such a fan of Jamba Juice smoothies that I became an investor last year. Big mistake. I should've just handed over my stock money in exchange for more Strawberries Wild and Orange Dream Machine blended beverages.

The chain may include complimentary boosts with its smoothies, but the same can't be said for its share price. Things were falling apart long before Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) crashed the party this year with its Vivano smoothies (which are rancid, in my opinion). Falling comps, a tainted strawberry scare, mounting losses, and waning popularity on its home turf of California have eaten into the company's prospects.

I still think the Jamba brand is valuable, but the company will have to prove it to a very jaded Wall Street first.

No one said it would to be easy -- or tasty -- to eat one's way through this dollar menu.

Other ways to buck the buck:

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.