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.
My Foolish colleague Paul Chi has been optimistic on Apache for quite some time -- even purchasing it in the Street Fighter portfolio that he and fellow Fool Matt Argersinger co-manage. One of the driving forces behind their buy recommendation is the simple fact that a majority of Apache's revenue comes from liquid assets (oil and liquefied natural gas). Only 11% of Apache's 2012 revenue was derived from natural gas sales, exposing it to far less realized price fluctuations than its peers.
In addition, Apache has reserves in the highly sought-after Permian Basin and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. These regions are well known for their high abundance of oil reserves, and work perfectly to shift Apache's production to a liquid-heavy business. Furthermore, Apache has been utilizing the same "trick" that EOG Resources (EOG 0.84%) has been using: namely, shipping its Permian Basin oil by rail to Louisiana instead of Cushing, Okla., where it receives a premium Brent crude payout. With Cushing only paying out at West Texas Intermediate prices, EOG and Apache can pay to ship their oil to Louisiana terminals and still collect a higher margin even after shipping fees. According to Paul, 72% of Apache's total oil production is sold for a higher price point that the current WTI price.
I'm not anticipating that oil will be getting much cheaper anytime soon; so at seven times forward earnings, I'd suggest digging deeper into Apache.
Looking offshore for success
Sticking with the theme of oil and gas for a moment, let me also turn your attention to W&T Offshore (WTI 2.79%) which, just like Apache, holds assets onshore in the oil-rich Permian Basin, but has a substantial chunk of assets offshore (roughly 1.2 million of its 1.4 million leased acres) in the Gulf of Mexico.
Admittedly, one aspect that had kept me from diving into W&T Offshore earlier had to do with its big capital expenditures budget and its already high debt load. With capex surpassing expectations last year and the company carrying about $1 billion in net debt, there were plenty of reasons to be cautious following the ATP Oil & Gas bankruptcy. However, plans for a reduced capex budget in 2013, as well as the completion of numerous drilling and well improvement projects, should mean the convergence of big profits for W&T Offshore in 2013.
W&T also has struggled under the weight of weak natural gas prices. According to the company's own reserve estimates, it holds 60% in liquids and 40% in natural gas. Quietly, though, natural gas prices have doubled over the past year, all while W&T's share price has been nearly halved. W&T is making all the right moves in terms of boosting oil production and being smart about its acreage acquisition... it's just not being given any credit.
I'll stick my neck out for W&T Offshore this year on the expectation that its costs come in below expectations and profits soar well beyond the Street's forecast. If oil and natural gas prices stay consistently where they are now, I'd call W&T a bargain at 10 times next year's profit projections.
The disappointments are starting to mount for investors in OMNOVA Solutions (OMN), an emulsion polymer and specialty chemicals maker that has missed the Street's estimates in worsening fashion for three straight quarters. Its first-quarter results, released earlier this month, showed a 9% decline in total revenue from the year-ago period because of lower volumes in Europe and India, and business seasonality. However, optimistic contentions could also be made based on this same earnings report.
For one thing, OMNOVA's growth prospects appear very strong in Asia, where its chemical business tied to the oil industry looks poised to explode higher. Even with GDP growth of "just" 7.7%, China is committed to finding and exploiting new energy sources, meaning OMNOVA's products should remain in high demand. Elsewhere, OMNOVA is poised to boost production with additional global manufacturing facilities coming on-line later this year. Additionally, OMNOVA will benefit from domestic and Chinese home and commercial construction because of its roofing and construction applications.
OMNOVA has remained profitable despite its recent EPS misses and continues to produce meaningful cash flow to drive operational expansion. At eight times forward earnings, even with a recent rash of earnings misses, I think the reward potential easily outweighs the risk.
This week's theme is all about "How bad can it really get?" For the two oil and gas explorers and producers, I feel investors are paying too much attention to their previous spending habits and not enough attention to their production growth potential. For OMNOVA, it's all about servicing the right industries at the right time -- and I feel it's well-positioned to accomplish that.