Just as we examine companies each week that may be rising past their fair value, we can also find companies potentially trading at bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with companies tipping the scales at 52-week lows, I think it makes a lot of sense to determine whether the market has overreacted to the downside, just as we often do when the market reacts to the upside.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
Value by the carload
A little more than a month ago I highlighted railroad company CSX (NASDAQ:CSX) as a great dividend you could buy right now. With the company's share price falling even further since that analysis due to a myriad of factors, I feel now is the time to play conductor, back up the engine, and connect the cars for the long haul.
CSX has been hurt by declines in coal demand and shipments because of historically low natural gas prices and a reduction in domestic coal demand. Looking on the bright side, though, natural gas prices have been on a steady incline in the second half of this year, and President Obama made clear indications that clean coal will be a part of the United States' energy independence plans. Accounting for 45% of the United States' energy generation in 2011, coal isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Another factor working in CSX's favor is domestic coal companies looking to expand internationally. You've often heard me refer to Arch Coal's (NYSE:ACI) multiple export agreements with West Coast and Gulf Coast facilities in order to drive growth. These agreements are likely to become commonplace among coal producers, which should help fuel CSX's growth. At just 10 times forward earnings and with a yield approaching 3%, I like CSX's chances to outperform going forward.
In the Limelight
Warning! Warning! Riskier-play-than-usual alert!
I've exercised caution over much of the cloud-computing sector based on valuation over the past year -- especially with software providers that aren't profitable. Today, I'm placing a temporary moratorium on that pessimism and taking a chance on content delivery network services company Limelight Networks (NASDAQ:LLNW).
The first factor that got my attention with Limelight is its robust cash balance. As we know all too well, cash means nothing if a company is losing money hand-over-fist or can't figure out a way to become profitable. In this case, Limelight has so much cash on its books ($130 million versus a total market value of just $173 million) that I'm little concerned about its manageable losses of late. It also recently added $10 million of its cash to be used in share buybacks.
The other two tidbits that interest me with regard to Limelight are its departing CEO and its mobile-oriented revenue growth. I might be in the minority here, but I'm happy to see current CEO Jeff Lunsford step aside to pursue private business interests. I feel that fresh blood in the CEO chair could get Limelight back to marginal profitability within a year. Also, Limelight's video platform and mobile revenue, while still young, grew 44%. This segment is the future of the company, and given its cash hoard, makes it an attractive buyout candidate in my opinion.
The other shiny white metal
Warning! Warning! An even riskier play than Limelight!
I'm not sure if it's that I'm headed on vacation tomorrow or what, but I'm taking some bigger gambles than normal with my CAPS portfolio today. For my final selection this week, I'm going to stop talking about North American Palladium (NYSEMKT:PAL) and finally act on my optimism.
The primary growth driver for the company is its Lac des Iles mine expansion. While it costs a pretty penny now ($93 million through the first nine months this year), the results should be phenomenal considering that underground palladium ore yield was shown to be three times higher than the near-surface yield. Palladium, as you recall, is a primary metal used in catalytic converters in cars, so auto-sale growth will help drive palladium demand.
The company is also actively shopping around its non-core gold assets (e.g. its Vezza gold mine). With its focus on palladium, North American Palladium should be able to shore up its cash position through any level of divestiture.
Both it and peer Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC) have suffered through lower realized selling prices in recent months, and higher labor rates as mining unions globally have rallied for higher wages. However, all things told and once its Lac des Iles expansion is complete, North American Palladium should have a formula in place to keep its cash costs close consistently low.
This week is all about taking calculated risks. No investment comes without risk (especially this week's), but the key is to focus on manageable risks. The U.S.'s energy independence will still require coal usage, which is great for CSX; Limelight's video and mobile platform shows great promise thanks to its amazing cash pile; and North American shareholders are close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to its Lac des Iles expansion.
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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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