Just as we often examine companies 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 stocks 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.
Can this driller drill short-sellers?
You'd think that with the U.S. economy on the mend, the oil services industry would be booming, but that's not quite the case. Following the Great Recession and the subsequent Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010, deepwater drilling services operator Transocean (NYSE:RIG) has seen its shares get eviscerated, losing nearly 80% of their value.
Aside from the legal issues tied to the tragic spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the negative PR surrounding the event, Transocean faces a number of other headwinds. The company's fleet is significantly older than many of its peers', with an average age of 23 years, according to data provided by peer SeaDrill -- which happens to have the newest drill fleet -- and Transocean's rigs are among the least-utilized in the sector at the moment. The obvious concern here is that Transocean's rigs are less efficient than newer deepwater rigs, which could make finding work at favorable rates difficult for Transocean.
As the company noted in its second-quarter report a few weeks earlier, its contract backlog fell to $25 billion from more than $27 billion in the year-ago period, with fleet revenue efficiency dipping 70 basis points to 95%.
Though Transocean is clearly at a challenging point in its existence, I see this as a potentially perfect time to consider buying this value stock.
To begin with, it's not as if Transocean is sitting on its hands while its peers flood the market with new rigs. Transocean has new deepwater drilling rigs in its fleet and has been regularly adding to its orders for new ultra-deepwater drillships.
In addition, even though we're seeing a temporary lull in capital spending by oil and gas companies that have ramped up dividend payments to satisfy shareholders, an impending rise in U.S. interest rates, which could lure dividend-seekers away by making bonds and CDs more attractive, could coerce drillers to readjust their capital expenditures once again and ramp up production if oil and natural gas prices cooperate. Over the coming decade, new offshore finds should yield plenty of demand for rigs, both old and new, which may work in Transocean's favor.
Investors may also want to consider Transocean's cash flow and profits. Even if the short-sellers are right about Transocean, it's not as if the company's profitability is in jeopardy. Drilling rigs cost a lot to build, providing a huge barrier to entry for competitors. In other words, I'd suggest that Transocean's annual operating income is likely to remain above $2 billion, and while its dividend could cede a little ground, a 5%-plus yield is still possible. With a forward P/E of just 11, this is a value stock that should be on contrarian investors' radars.
Pay attention to the wizard behind the curtain
Death, taxes, and Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (NASDAQ:BAGL) missing Wall Street's quarterly profit projections: These are three things in life you can count on. OK, so perhaps that last one was a bit facetious, but Einstein Noah has missed Wall Street's estimates in six straight quarters, which is reason enough for investors to duck and cover when earnings time rolls around.
"What's behind the EPS misses," you ask? It's primarily increasing breakfast competition from larger chains like Starbucks and McDonald's, as well as the company's rebranding efforts, which include new lunch menu items, restaurant remodels, and a fresh marketing campaign. All told, these things cost money, and the extra expenses that Einstein Noah is shelling out have hampered its profit potential.
Despite Einstein Noah's inability to meet Wall Street's expectations -- or should I say Wall Street's inability to grasp the scale of Einstein Noah's aggressive rebranding campaign -- I believe this value stock could be worth a closer look here for a number of reasons.
First of all, even with the rebranding effort, Einstein Noah restaurants have their own special appeal that neither a fast-food chain nor a Starbucks can provide. The company is overhauling its menu to include healthier food and beverage options and is looking to give the interiors of its stores a more homely feel. This worked wonders for McDonald's, and it could do the same for Einstein Noah.
Not to mention that the breakfast category still remains a high-margin source of growth. Even with its rebranding efforts still taking shape, Einstein Noah reported a 4.1% increase in quarterly revenue and a systemwide comparable-store sales increase (both franchised and company-owned) of 1.6%.
Perhaps the best reason to give Einstein Noah a deeper dive is the wizard behind the curtain. He can't send you back to Kansas, but he's a master of creating value for investors. David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital currently owns more than 6.7 million shares of Einstein Noah, or roughly 37.5% of its stock. This hefty position gives Einhorn plenty of leverage when it comes to improving shareholder incentives and ensuring the company is headed in the right direction. It's also a prime reason investors in this value stock are privy to a sustainable 3.5% yield!
Einhorn's presence and large position instantly give the prospect of a buyout or sale of the company at least some credibility, in my opinion. However, even if the company remains independent, which is also possible, its same-store sales growth appears to be on track. With the stock valued at less than 14 times forward earnings, I'd suggest that now might be the perfect time to take a bite out of this bagel maker.
The calm before the (growth) storm
Lastly, I'll turn your attention to a potential value stock in the medical diagnostic field: Meridian Bioscience (NASDAQ:VIVO).
Similar to Einstein Noah, Meridian Bioscience has a history of missing Wall Street's quarterly earnings expectations (it has done so in three of the past four quarters). The primary culprit lately is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which you probably know better by its shorthand name, Obamacare. The ACA established a medical-device excise tax of 2.3% on medical-device and diagnostic developers' revenue and is being used to help pay for the expansion of Medicaid in 26 U.S. states. For Meridian, it means lost revenue -- about $4.3 million last year, to be exact.
Also don't discount the idea that hospitals and outpatient clinics have been holding back their spending in the wake of the Obamacare rollout. Health insurance premiums, healthcare provider costs, and medical utilization rates are all still big question marks, and as such, healthcare providers have erred on the side of caution and throttled their spending on new products. Additionally, some consumers have been holding off on elective procedures and tests. This spending crunch has certainly affected Meridian, as evidenced by the company's flat second-quarter revenue and 4.5% decline in gross profit.
However, just as the ACA taketh away, it should be a long-term growth-driver for Meridian. The expectation is that once premium prices settle down and consumers have a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to pricing and coverage, more insured individuals will visit their doctor, which, in turn, could lead to more preventative diagnostic tests being used. This trend of more personalized medical care is likely to continue taking shape moving forward.
To add icing to the cake, value investors will also receive a healthy dividend of more than 4%. Don't let Meridian's small-cap valuation scare you, either, as it has been paying a dividend to shareholders for the past 24 years -- if that's not a sign of a stable business model, then I'm not sure what is! At 20 times forward earnings, Meridian may not exactly ring some investors' bells, but considering the moat of ACA-based long-term opportunity, you'd be wise to give this company its own examination.
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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