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.
No guts, no glory
Some of my turnaround candidates in this weekly series rank pretty low on the speculative scale, while others are off the charts. The next pick certainly falls into the latter column and certainly isn't for the faint of heart.
The airline sector is typically a poor long-term investment. It requires huge capital investments to return what's often a nominal profit margin that can be easily disrupted by economic weakness and/or higher fuel prices. Despite these concerns and a hefty 2012 loss, I consider GOL Linhas Aereas (NYSE:GOL) the perfect turnaround candidate.
GOL, an airline company operating out of Brazil that services much of South America, has been focusing its efforts primarily on cost controls meant to bring demand in line with supply. According to UBS, GOL has plans to expand its fleet by just three aircrafts between now and 2016. While that may sound like an opportunity for growth to stagnate, it's actually the perfect opportunity for GOL to focus on improving its administrative efficiencies and load factor. We saw evidence of this happening with a 30% decrease in employee costs last quarter compared to the previous year.
In addition, despite a loss in its most recent quarter, GOL did manage to deliver a 12.4% increase in net revenue per available seat mile in the first quarter. It will certainly take until 2014 before GOL is able to turn in an annual profit, but the groundwork has been laid to turn this airline around, and the region is certainly ripe for steady economic growth. For those with the stomach for volatility, I'd suggest digging deeper into GOL.
A way to play the natural gas revolution
It certainly wasn't a banner first quarter for diversified energy company ONEOK (NYSE:OKE). Profit for the quarter fell markedly short of Wall Street's estimates as its ONEOK Partners (NYSE:OKS) segment experienced tighter liquefied natural gas price differentials, and ethane rejection. It also didn't help that commodity prices were down across the board. However, now could be the time to jump on board this steady income payer.
On paper, the thesis to own ONEOK is clear as day. President Obama has made it a priority to push America toward greater energy independence, and that's only going to happen with the proliferation of U.S. natural gas. ONEOK is absolutely loaded with natural gas reserves in Oklahoma and Kansas.
On top of its natural gas reserves, ONEOK's limited-partnership ONEOK Partners is perfectly positioned to experience solid midstream growth. With a network of transmission and storage tanks that will be called upon as drilling increases, ONEOK Partners should boast incredible pricing power and profitability.
Finally, ONEOK is relatively unmatched when it comes to the safety and quality of its dividend payout. The company has boosted its dividend in each of the past seven years and now yields an annualized 3.2%, which is considerably higher than the industry average. ONEOK isn't cheap at 20 times forward earnings, but a dramatic increase in NGL and natural gas demand will quickly pump up its bottom line.
Sticking with Brazil
For this week's final pick, I'm going to revisit Brazil and highlight the Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (NYSEMKT:BRF).
This actually isn't just your typical international ETF. What's unique about the Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF is that it gives investors the opportunity to take advantage of rapidly growing small-cap companies in an emerging-market economy. This can be particularly advantageous if the U.S. and other developed countries are growing slower because Brazil is capable of growing independently of the rest of the world.
Another important factor here is the funds distribution. As my Foolish colleague Dan Caplinger points out, nearly half of this ETF's holdings are in consumer goods.The allure of some consumer goods is that they're often price-inelastic and stay in demand regardless of whether the economy is growing or shrinking.
With an annual expense ratio of 0.59% and a yield of 1.52%, this ETF gives investors plenty of opportunity to participate in Brazil's growth while being exposed to a reasonably small amount of risk.
This week's theme was dual in nature. First, that the Brazilian economy offers quite a few bargain-basement opportunities that could grow even if the U.S. and Europe are struggling; and second, that U.S. natural gas isn't getting nearly enough respect, which could make ONEOK a surprisingly profitable company moving forward.
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.
The Motley Fool recommends ONEOK and ONEOK Partners. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.