"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." It's the worst nightmare of every investor in today's market -- buying a rocket stock just before it takes a nosedive.
Every day, finviz.com publishes a list of stocks whose shares have just hit new 52-week highs. Every day, investors read the list and tremble -- some with greed, others with terror. Within our Motley Fool CAPS investing community, these top stocks generally enjoy favorable ratings, since everyone loves a winner ... but not always:
CAPS Rating (out of 5)
National Oilwell Varco
Companies selected by screening for new 52-week highs hit on the Thursday before publication. Low and recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.
When a stock hits a new 52-week high, it's only natural to wonder whether this time is the last time -- whether there's nowhere left to go, but down?
Judging from the ratings they're handing out, though, it appears CAPS members have their doubts about the law of gravity applying to stocks. And for the most part, I agree. As the Libyan standoff drags on, oil prices continue to rise, and oil producers like Total and Conoco -- and drillers like National Oilwell Varco -- stand to benefit. What's more, at P/E ratios of 9.5 and 10.5, respectively, neither Total nor Conoco looks particularly overpriced to me, "52-week highs" notwithstanding. (National Oilwell, in contrast, at 20 times earnings and 13.4% projected growth, looks iffier -- but who knows?)
I'll even go so far as to say that EMC -- a stock I've supported in the past, and rightly so -- still looks fairly priced to me. While its 31 times P/E ratio certainly seems expensive, the company generates free cash flow at a rate twice as high as it reported GAAP profits. And 15 times FCF simply doesn't look like an unreasonable price to pay for this high-tech superstar.
And then there was Wynn
But what about the fifth stock on this week's list? Once again, Wynn Resorts is making an appearance on our hot-stock tracker, and once again, it comes bearing just one single star courtesy of the CAPS community. Last time Wynn paid us a visit, I crunched the numbers and told you that despite its one-star rating, "the price doesn't look too high. ... As long as the cash keeps rolling in, Wynn could continue its winning ways."
And win it has. Notwithstanding continued negative sentiment from such CAPS luminaries as Endeavor1 (Wynn offers "the worst odds in the house") and jgknot (who worries about "China tightening" and a "slow recovery expected out of U.S."), Wynn defied the odds and produced results "well past expectations" last month. And it did so even as gambling rivals like Las Vegas Sands
Would you bet on a winner?
Wynn reaped 53% revenue growth in Q4, and near-80% growth in its Macau operations, helping to push the stock up 10% past the price at which investors were panning it in January. Even better, when last I expressed my cautious optimism about the stock, I did so because its 31 times price-to-free-cash-flow ratio and 29% projected growth rate seemed to offer investors good odds. Today, with Wynn's most recent results in hand, we know those odds are even better than hoped.
By year end, Wynn had won for itself a cash haul of $773 million -- a number nearly five times greater than the company's reported GAAP profit of $160 million. What's more, its growth rate also accelerated, to the point that Wall Street now expects the company to grow its profits at an annualized rate of nearly 34% over the next five years.
Believe me, Fools -- I realize how crazy it sounds to call a 100 P/E stock like Wynn "cheap." But that's precisely what Wynn is today. Far from being destined to fall, I believe Wynn's current "52-week high" could be only the beginning.
But hey, that's just my opinion. I'm willing to be convinced to the contrary -- if you can come up with a convincing enough argument. If you believe that Wynn is actually a loser, click over to Motley Fool CAPS now, and tell me why.
Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above, nor is he short 'em. You can find Rich on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 635 out of more than 170,000 members. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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