Just as we examine companies each week that may be rising past their fair values, we can also find companies trading at what may be bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with companies wallowing at 52-week lows, I think it makes a lot of sense to determine whether the market has overreacted to a company's bad news, just as we often do when the market reacts to good news.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
Worth a deeper inspection
This week we're starting off with deep-packet inspection, or DPI, solutions provider Procera Networks (UNKNOWN:PKT.DL). Procera's Internet and networking solutions allow companies to manage their bandwidth and data routing while also controlling network threats.
The DPI sector as a whole has been largely beaten up by a lack of consistent corporate spending, as well as reduced spending from the U.S. government as it looks for ways to reduce the long-term federal budget deficit. The end result was weaker-than-forecast revenue in 2013 for Procera and a move back into quarterly earnings-per-share losses.
Also not helping matters, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), one of Procera's largest DPI rivals, has been laying off workers in an effort to streamline its business. While this will be a positive for Cisco Systems within a year or two, investors today note that if even a giant such as Cisco is struggling, then Procera quite possibly could be worse off. In other words, it's guilt by association.
However, Procera also has several factors working in its favor. For one, most of Cisco's solutions are built directly into its servers, meaning that a client looking to upgrade specific parts of its network will need new servers. Procera, on the other hand, has much better scalability than Cisco at the moment and tends to focus its efforts on businesses rather than consumers. In addition, it's not focused on a gigantic turnaround like Cisco, allowing it to hone in on DPI solutions and perhaps even chip away more market share.
Second, Procera's outlook wasn't as bad as I had thought. The company expects revenue to grow by 15% in fiscal 2014, with a return to adjusted profits by the second half of the year. With big data spending still in its infancy, the amount of information being transferred is on the precipice of soaring, playing right into Procera's hands.
Finally, Procera is swimming in cash. In fact, roughly half of Procera's current value comes from its $106.6 million in cash on hand with no debt. This cash provides Procera flexibility in weak economic times, as well as the ability to make smaller acquisitions as it sees fit. It could also put Procera on a larger networking equipment makers' radar since investors are only valuing Procera's business, minus the cash, at just 1.2 times this year's projected sales.
Bank on this stock
By and large, the banking sector has been on fire over the trailing year, save for a select few foreign banks such as Barclays (NYSE:BCS).
U.K.-based Barclays is having all sorts of troubles lately, with weaker fixed-income markets wreaking havoc on its investment banking unit and causing its fourth-quarter profit to landslide from approximately $2.3 billion in 2012 to roughly $318 million this past year. Adding fuel to the fire, Barclays faces ongoing litigation (but what bank isn't these days?), and it's paying out beefy bonuses to its remaining investment banking staff after headcount reductions.
Still, despite Barclays' flaws, I believe this could be the time to consider it as a possible investment.
First, Barclays is dirt-cheap. It obviously has been slammed for a reason, but with the stock valued at 70% of book value and about six times forward earnings estimates, the market is pricing in a whopper of a legal settlement or perhaps even quarterly losses in the interim.
Second, Barclays is doing what it can to reduce costs by reducing its headcount. According to Bloomberg, Barclays could eliminate up to 12,000 jobs in 2014 in an effort to save $2.8 billion in annual costs by 2015. Of course, I'd also prefer to see the company pare back its bonus pool a bit in order to achieve those cost reductions, but at least expenses are heading in the right direction.
Finally, of the European economies most capable of pulling out of an economic slump on their own, I'd suggest that the U.K. is in the best shape. The U.K. has delivered four straight quarters of modest GDP expansion (0.4%-0.8%), and it could be set to head even higher. As the U.K. economy finds its legs again, Barclays is likely to be a prime beneficiary.
A developmental bargain?
It's a rare day when I'll throw a higher-risk developmental-stage biopharmaceutical company at you, but investors looking for a high risk-versus-reward potential might want to take a closer look at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LXRX).
There are plenty of risks associated with a pipeline of drugs that have not advanced past pre-clinical or clinical stages. With nothing more than erratic milestone payments padding its top line, and losses set to continue for the foreseeable future, expect Lexicon to burn through about $75 million in cash per year. For investors this could mean the possibility of dilutive share offerings down the road. Pipeline failures, such as disappointing results for LX1033 as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, have also weighed on Lexicon.
The promise of Lexicon's pipeline, however, appears enormous.
Although Lexicon's pipeline consists of five up and coming clinical-stage compounds, my entire focus is on LX4211 as a potential Type 1 and 2 diabetes treatment. LX4211 is a dual inhibitor of SGLT1 and SGLT2 which help regulate glycemic balance within the body. Most current diabetes medications work in the pancreas or liver and, like DPP-4 inhibitors, are often weight neutral. SGLT2 inhibitors, such as Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Invokana, work out of the kidneys by blocking glucose absorption and allowing the body to rid itself of excess glucose through a patient's urine.
However, no company has delivered a compound focused on both SGLT1 (found primarily in the gastrointestinal tract) and SGLT2 inhibitors (found in the kidneys), until now. LX4211 is testing just this theory to see if the dual inhibiting benefit will provide even better glycemic balance than just SGLT2-focused therapies such as Invokana. Also, SGLT2 inhibitors have demonstrated weight loss as a side effect, which is good news since diabetics are often overweight.
A lot is riding on LX4211's success, and a failure here could be devastating. Then again, if all continues to go well for LX4211 in both Type 1 and 2 diabetes, it's quite possible this drug could be a blockbuster that sends Lexicon markedly higher.