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.
Be an investing "utilitarian"
Although we're far removed from the early 2000s, it's often felt like you could throw a dart at the newspaper and pick a winner in the past four years since we've hit bottom. All three U.S. indexes have more than doubled from their March 2009 lows, giving the majority of sectors a big boost. One such sector, though, that's really failed to participate in this rally is the utility sector and the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLU).
Considering how far we've come from our lows, and given the fact that we had lower unemployment levels and a better full-time work environment prior to the recession, it's not too ill-conceived to assume that the market can't rise forever. The Utilities Select Sector SPDR could be the perfect hedge against any serious downside action in the markets, because utilities are often viewed as defensive plays. Remember, utilities deliver electricity to residents and, for the most part, electricity is an inelastic product in that its demand and price tend to be relatively stable regardless of the economy. This, in turn, establishes a fairly steady stream of cash flow for electric utilities, and usually a U.S. Treasury-bond topping dividend.
Within the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF you'll find some of my favorite utilities, including Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) (it's largest holding), which recently announced that it would be closing five coal-powered plants early in Indiana as it moves its energy portfolio further toward alternative energy; and NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), the third-largest holding, which generates the greatest amount of electricity in the U.S. from alternative energy sources, and is one of my primary selections for the Basic Needs portfolio.
With a yield of 4%, an extremely low turnover rate, and a minute net expense ratio of 0.18%, this utility basket ETF is a defensive and income investors' dream.
It's certainly not the most exciting stock in the world, but beverage behemoth Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) is prancing around only 8% above a new 52-week low on the heels of weak domestic soda consumption.
In Coke's most recent quarterly report, it delivered the first North American volume drop in the past 13 quarters, announced that a stronger dollar would reduce earnings by 4%, and pointed to abnormally cold and wet weather in Europe and South America as the reason its results were weaker than expected.
Yet, for all of Coke's missteps in the second quarter, it remains, without question, one of the most intriguing set-it-and-forget-it stocks in the world. Coke's brand recognition is absolutely unparalleled, with more than 90% of people around the globe able to identify the company's logo. In addition, Coke is operating in all but two countries in the world, giving it unbelievable geographic diversity, and allowing it the opportunity to take advantage of the steady growth of established economics and the sometimes erratic, but rapidly growing, emerging market economies. In other words, nothing short of a global depression would really hurt Coke's bottom line.
Having grown its dividend for 51 straight years, and possessing about half of all global non-alcoholic beverage brands that bring in more than $1 billion annually, I don't see how this stock can't be on your radar and/or Watchlist.
A stock with value-minded precision
There aren't too many companies in the health-care sector these days trading anywhere near a 52-week low, but you could definitely say that shareholders of RTI Surgical (NASDAQ:RTIX) drew the short end of the stick.
RTI Surgical, a company that makes surgical tissue and graft implants that help in the healing of human bone and tissues, sank like a stone earlier this year following its fourth-quarter earnings report. You see, RTI's results were hampered by a warning letter the company received from the FDA in Oct. 2012 regarding one of its manufacturing facilities in Florida. Due to what RTI referred to as "aggressive marketing tactics from certain competitors," sales of RTI's implants struggled, and the company was forced to reduce its outlook to the chagrin of shareholders.
However, that looks to be all in the past, with RTI Surgical announcing a successful inspection by the FDA of its Alachua, Fla. facility last week. According to the press releases, RTI's warning letter never affected its production or affected patient safety, and the problems addressed by the FDA in its letter have now been fixed. Or, to put it another way, everyone can relax now and get back to business!
As for RTI Surgical, I believe it could see a nice influx of patients with the coming implementation of Obamacare expanding insurance coverage to millions of currently uninsured people, and considering that baby boomers are starting to hit retirement age. RTI is profitable, has $39.4 million in net cash, and is valued at just 10% more than its book value. To me, that sounds like a phenomenal value in the health-care sector.
This week's theme is "steady as she goes." Sometimes, defense is the best offense, and all three stocks represented this week offer a nice bit of security for investors. The Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF provides a diverse basket of companies that delivers a necessity product with a solid yield; Coca-Cola offers unparalleled geographic and product diversity, also with an amazing near-3% yield; and RTI gives investors a profitable and growing surgical company trading very near its book value that'll likely benefit as our adult population ages.
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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