As we do each month, we asked a handful of our top analysts across sectors for one stock that looks especially compelling right now. Here are the companies they singled out.
Jim Gillies: I tapped Bridgepoint Education (NYSE:BPI) as a stock to buy back in August, and I'm doubling down today. My rationale for buying in August was resolution of the for-profit educator's accreditation issue (no accreditation, no access to Title IV funding -- the ultimate source of about 87% of Bridgepoint's revenue). The stock subsequently rose more than 20% in the next couple of months, before getting whacked this week by twin blows of an analyst downgrade and an earnings miss.
This is opportunity, Fools. The analyst downgrade was based on an assertion that Bridgepoint will have to lower tuition prices to continue to compete -- an assertion ably batted aside by Bridgepoint management on their quarterly earnings call. And the earnings miss reflected continuing lower net and total enrollment (and thus associated revenue) while the company continues to invest in programs to enhance admissions quality and student persistence -- initiatives that you can credit for resolving the accreditation issue in Bridgepoint's favor in the first place.
In other words, the enrollment declines are self-driven and in-line with company expectations; they're also near an end. Management indicated that new enrollments will turn from decline back to growth in the current quarter, and continue through 2014.
Meanwhile the company still sports its $10-per-share cash hoard, continues to generate significant cash flow, and is just plain cheap trading below 3x EBITDA. I believe fair value lies in the mid-$20s. Demonstrating enrollment growth in the near future should propel us in that direction.
Maxx Chatsko: It is pretty rare to find a small biotech company with steady operations and sky-high profit margins, so consider Repligen (NASDAQ:RGEN) a hidden gem. The company offers a unique opportunity to tap into the wild growth of the biopharmaceutical industry without the risk of running costly and unpredictable clinical trials. That's because Repligen doesn't develop therapeutic medicines in clinical trials. Instead, the company operates in two commercial segments: bioprocessing and biomanufacturing equipment.
In the first business, Repligen sells the biologic products necessary to produce, purify, and quality check monoclonal antibody therapeutics. You know, the drugs that made up six of the top nine best-selling medicines in the world last year (the same six drugs had combined sales of $37 billion in 2012). The company currently only offers one product line when it comes to biomanufacturing equipment, but it's poised to challenge Amgen and General Electric with its ambitious growth plans. Just let that sink in for a moment.
I'm on a mission to educate investors about Repligen's operations and opportunities, so don't let scientific jargon or concepts make you throw it in the "too hard" bin just yet. If I can't use my bioprocess engineering degree to explain a bioprocessing company, then, well, I should probably return my degree and take a walk of shame looking for a new major. Check the company's CAPS page for my breakdown of third-quarter results and financial outlook. I think you'll be impressed.
Patrick Morris: Despite BofI Holding (NASDAQ:BOFI) having an incredible run through the first 10 months of 2013 (with the stock up almost 120%), I think November marks the month to buy this disruptive banking stock. The holding company for Bank of Internet continues to deliver astounding growth -- as its most recent earnings release delivered 35.5% year-over-year net income growth, and 27% earnings-per-share growth. It was the seventh quarter in a row with record earnings.
Yet this isn't some high-growth stock that lacks fundamentals, as its 17.7% return on average equity and 41.4% efficiency ratio (two key banking profitability metrics) are among the best in its class. Consider that highly esteemed peers and industry leaders US Bancorp and Wells Fargo check in at 15.8% / 52.4% and 14.1% / 59.1%, respectively.
While the company has a very high valuation at 3.4 times price to tangible book value, the aforementioned US Bancorp sits at 3.0, so BofI Holdings would not be considered monumentally expensive. Certainly with any high-growth company there are risks, but there could also be great rewards for those who invest in this stock.
Sam Mattera: Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is a stock to own going into the holiday season. It should benefit from a wave of new tech gadgets, including wearable devices; tablets from Apple, Lenovo and others; more affordable 4K TV sets; and the release of two major video game consoles.
Certainly, if anyone is in the market for a Samsung device, Best Buy is the place they'll go. Now that Samsung has rolled out its Experience Shops, Best Buy has become the premiere Samsung retailer. That's notable, as Samsung's share of the tablet market has exploded -- according to IDC, about one in every five tablets shipped is made by Samsung.
In past years, shoppers may have gone to Best Buy to test these new devices out, then gone home to purchase them online (or even in the store using a mobile device). But Best Buy is combating this practice by price-matching online retailers, including Amazon. Recently, I told two of my friends that I was in the market for a TV; both of them suggested that I go to Best Buy, citing its willingness to match prices. No doubt this is anecdotal, but to me, it suggests that consumers are aware of Best Buy's new policy.
Tim Beyers: For as much as the headlines speak of how well Grand Theft Auto V is performing -- retailers have now purchased more than 29 million copies of the game -- you'd think that shares of Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) would be touching new highs. Yet you'd be wrong.
Take-Two is up less than 5% since GTA V's release on Sept. 17. Overall, the market pegs this business as worth $1.6 billion in market cap. GTA V, on its own, should generate that much revenue for the company. Does that seems fair to you? Not to me, but there's also GTA Online to consider. We don't yet know how big Take-Two's online revenue opportunity is, but having an ever-changing Internet edition allows publisher Rockstar to keep racking up sales as the development team works on creating GTA VI.
Take-Two should also benefit from this month's console refreshes from Microsoft and Sony. Management says 10 titles are in the works for these and other next-generation platforms, and should begin generating revenue from them next year. Consider it gravy. The meat of this story is GTA V. Right now, Take-Two trades for less than the revenue value of its top property. That's not going to last forever. Heck, I'll be surprised if it lasts more than a quarter.
Jamal Carnette: My stock of the month is LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD.DL). LinkedIn investors sold off the company nearly 10% after its recent earnings announcement. LinkedIn beat consensus estimates for earnings and revenue, but investors were not happy with the company's fourth-quarter guidance. LinkedIn is guiding for around $20 million less than consensus estimates.
However, many investors fail to remember that LinkedIn is cautious with guidance. For the recently reported third quarter, it raised guidance on Aug. 2 and guided from $367 million to $373 million -- it ended up beating its projected top number by $20 million.
In addition, LinkedIn has a strategy to become "mobile friendly" to better engage those users. That's important because mobile users are 2.5 times as active as desktop users. This will provide LinkedIn with better monetization prospects going forward.
If you are looking for a social-media company with a strong moat, amazing growth, and a diverse monetization strategy, LinkedIn should be considered. Valuation concerns persist as it trades at high price to sales and price to earnings ratios, but prudent investors understand that nothing fundamentally has changed in LinkedIn's success story, except the price.
Austin Smith: LeapFrog (NYSE:LF) hasn't got any of love from investors this year. It's trending scary close to 52-week lows after management lowered guidance for the holidays, noting the "tough retail climate." As usual though, Wall-Street's short-termism is our opportunity.
This company has constantly sandbagged earnings, beating the consensus for the last 11 quarters. Also, weak holiday guidance isn't exactly new news at this point. With some pointing to the weakest holiday season since 2009, many investors would think to steer clear, but that pessimism is already baked in and frankly misapplied here. LeapFrog is crazy cheap. The company trades at less than six times earnings with zero debt and about 30% of its market cap in cash. Its passionate CEO is just the cherry on top.
More importantly, though, retail is weak, tablets are still red hot. IDC believes this Christmas will mark a paradigm shift with worldwide tablet sales expected to outstrip PC sales for the first time. That's great news for the LeapPad Ultra, which can't stop winning educational awards and has landed a spot on Toys R Us' fabulous 15 list -- the de facto grouping for blockbuster toys each holiday season. While LeapFrog may seem like a lump of coal for investors, I expect Santa's sleigh to come stocked with Ultras this year and investors should prepare for a shiny gift-wrapped diamond instead.
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The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, BofI Holding, LeapFrog Enterprises, LinkedIn, Take-Two Interactive, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, BofI Holding, Bridgepoint Education, General Electric Company, LeapFrog Enterprises, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Wells Fargo. 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.