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3 Stocks Near 52-Week Lows Worth Buying

By Sean Williams - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:15AM

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Do these fallen angels deserve a second chance? You be the judge!

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.

MMORPGee, that stings!
I really hope you're sitting down, because I'm about to reverse an opinion on a company I've been pessimistic on for as long as I can recall.

Chinese-based mobile and PC gaming company NetEase (NTES 2.44%) has taken it on the chin in recent quarters as increased competition and higher gaming development costs have eaten into its previously rapid growth rate. The company, which licenses out Activision Blizzard's (NASDAQ: ATVI) World of Warcraft, or WoW, in China, relied more on its own lineup of games in its latest quarter since Activision was still developing the next expansion release of WoW. This resulted in revenue growth of just 3% for NetEase in the third quarter -- hardly an investor-pleasing quarter.

Things could be about to turn, though, as NetEase has finally reached what I consider to be an attractive valuation and the next in a series of World of Warcraft games is now on the market. From a value perspective, NetEase is trading at less than eight times next year's EPS forecast and has $18.11 in cash per share with no debt. Given that nearly 50% of its market cap is made up of cash, I feel we have a relatively safe downside buffer. Also, WoW: Mists of Pandaria's release in October should help boost sales in the upcoming quarters and give its own pipeline time to catch up. With China's rising middle class coming into new money thanks to its rapid growth rate, MMORPG gaming providers like NetEase should find that growth will remain steady even in times of economic uncertainty. I plan on ending my underperform call on the company as of tomorrow.

MRSA-buster
If you're seated, you might as well stay seated because I'm going to break the rules yet again by highlighting a completely clinical-stage biotech company that looks delectably inexpensive. That company is Trius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TSRX) and the developing drug in question that has my interests piqued is Tedizolid for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections, or ABSSSI, including MRSA.

Tedizolid has breezed through its early and mid-stage clinical trials thus far, meeting both initial and secondary endpoints and appearing as if it'll prove to be a more effective drug at preventing MRSA and other bacterial infections than Pfizer's (PFE 0.56%) Zyvox. According to Trius, some of the direct comparisons include Tedizolid's greater potency, smaller dosing frequency (six days compared to 10 days), lower frequency of resistance, and (most important) an improved safety profile. Trius has ample cash to complete its ongoing phase 3 trial ($70.9 million in cash with no debt), and has licensed the drug out to Bayer in the Asia-Pacific market.

While no drug is a sure thing in the biotech sector, Tedizolid has all the makings of a drug on its way to gaining FDA approval, assuming its phase 3 results are as strong as its early and mid-stage trial results have been. With U.S. peak sales potential around $350 million, Trius' market value of $175 million looks very appealing!

Returns you can bank on
Still seated? I hope so, and you might need an aspirin, too, because I'm ending with a banking company, TrustCo Bank (TRST 0.29%).

TrustCo isn't the cheapest regional bank on the block at 134% of book value, nor is it going to surprise Wall Street with a blowout quarter. What TrustCo does possess is that same low-level conservative pizzazz that has made US Bancorp (USB -0.57%) great throughout the years, in that it's focused on growing deposits and loans through conservative practices and sees branch growth as its primary long-term objective. No talk of derivatives trading and hedging with TrustCo; just good old-fashioned banking activities driving its growth.

In its most recent quarter, TrustCo reported a 5.7% increase in net income as a change in its deposit mix helped push margins higher even as interest rates hit record lows. With a slight uptick in return on assets to 0.89%, and an adjusted dip in nonperforming assets to total assets, it's clear that TrustCo understands what it takes to drive value for shareholders. Tack on the fact that TrustCo pays a dividend yield north of 5% and I'm sold on this slow-but-steady conservative banking story.

Foolish roundup
This week's theme is "Maybe the Mayans were right!", as I've chosen a Chinese gaming company, a completely clinical-stage biotech company, and a small regional bank to outperform -- all picks well outside my norm.

I'm so confident that these three names will bounce off their lows that I'm going to make a CAPScall of outperform on each one.

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Stocks Mentioned

NetEase, Inc. Stock Quote
NetEase, Inc.
NTES
$95.88 (2.44%) $2.28
TrustCo Bank Corp NY Stock Quote
TrustCo Bank Corp NY
TRST
$30.77 (0.29%) $0.09
U.S. Bancorp Stock Quote
U.S. Bancorp
USB
$47.25 (-0.57%) $0.27
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$51.88 (0.56%) $0.29

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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