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.
An organic panic
Given how organic and natural food producer Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) has traded since last October, you'd think the business model blew up. Shares have dropped by nearly 40% as a mixture of increasing competition and higher food costs have weighed on the usually sure-footed investment.
However, after missing Wall Street's earnings-per-share estimates in its two previous quarters, Whole Foods got back to business in the second quarter, reporting a total sales increase of 10% to a record $3.4 billion as comparable-store sales rose by 3.9%. The company noted that both transactions and checkout totals improved, which ultimately helped boost comps.
Though competition remains a concern for Whole Foods Market, I believe it has the tools necessary to continue growing at a high-single-digit percentage, if not better.
For one, it's not as if consumers have given up on organic and natural foods. In fact, as you walk around your local supermarkets today, you're likely to find that the selection of organic and natural products is as big as ever. Consumer groups continue to push for more transparent food group labeling, and as this movement gains momentum, the consumer demand for large-scale organic grocers should keep Whole Foods' growth on track.
Second, don't forget that while smaller organic grocery chains might be growing more quickly than Whole Foods, this company's size gives it the ability to negotiate better deals for its produce and other products. Ultimately, I expect this will allow Whole Foods to deliver more impressive margins than its peers over the long run.
Finally, Whole Foods is also a champion of employee rights and does well by its shareholders. Whole Foods ensures that its executives don't take home exorbitant pay packages relative to its in-store employees, and it has been regularly buying back its own stock and offering investors what currently amounts to a 1.3% dividend yield. This gives Whole Foods a positive image, which can go a long way toward improving customer traffic.
As both a growth and value stock, Whole Foods certainly looks worthy of a deeper dive.
Lower and lower it goes; where Web.com Group's (NASDAQ:WEB) bottom is, nobody knows.
Shares of Web.com Group, a supplier of Internet-based solutions such as hosting, website design and management, and search engine optimization for small businesses, have gone cliff diving following the company's last two earnings reports and are off about 50% from their all-time high set in March.
In the second quarter, the company delivered $144.7 million in revenue compared to Wall Street's consensus forecast of $146.9 million. This top-line miss, compounded by reduced full-year EPS estimates from Wall Street and the company's remaining $513 million in net debt, have given traders enough reason to believe Web.com's best days are in the rearview mirror.
However, I see this dip as a potentially attractive buying opportunity.
Dissecting Web.com Group's earnings report a bit further yields some nice surprises. Quarterly revenue, while off the mark, still rose by 10% year over year. More important, average revenue per user rose $0.14 from the sequential first quarter and $0.80 year over year, to $14.89. That might not sound like a lot, but it implies that Web.com is retaining strong pricing power and, based on its net additions during the quarter, not chasing away clients with its pricing or quality of service.
I also wouldn't underestimate the niche space in which Web.com operates. Most small businesses really aren't aware of how to increase the viewership of their product or service. Web.com's personalized services, which on the high end will run about $276 per year, are relatively inexpensive and can practically walk a new business owner through the process of targeting his or her audience via online and mobile Web designs, as well as search engine optimization. By comparison, Adobe Systems offers similar cloud-based business optimization tools, but its services start at $360 per year.
Even with slightly reduced growth expectations and sizable debt levels, I'd say Web.com is a potential steal at just seven times forward earnings. Given its long-term growth rate of about 8%, which would place the company at a PEG ratio below one, I suggest investors give this value stock a closer look.
Bursting with paw-tential
No stock goes straight up, but between 2009 and 2014 it was a steep uphill ride for stakeholders in animal health products company MWI Veterinary Supply (NASDAQ:MWIV), who saw their shares rise in value by more than 700%. But all good things must end, and shares of the company have dipped by more than 20% from their all-time high set earlier this year.
As with Web.com, the culprit was a weak second-quarter earnings report in May that saw the company produce $1.32 in EPS, which was $0.05 below what Wall Street anticipated. While operating income increased in the second quarter, gross margin fell by 70 basis points. For a company that had run higher by more than 700%, investors were clearly expecting more.
The good news is that I fully expect MWI to deliver more to patient value investors who are primed for a long-term hold. The way I see it, there are both company-specific and macroeconomic reasons why MWI Veterinary Supply can outperform.
MWI's purchase of IVESCO, which closed in November of last year, should help expose the company to a broader base of companion animal and production animal customers. Having a broader product portfolio than before the buyout should allow for substantially better pricing power and give veterinary practices and commercial animal producers a reason to stay loyal to MWI.
On a larger scale, both the companion and commercial markets are likely to see increasing demand for all supplies, ranging from food to medicine.
On the companion side of the market, more U.S. households own a pet now than at any time previously. In 1988, according to the American Pet Products Association, just 56% of all U.S. households owned a pet. As of 2013-2014, that figure had jumped to 68%, with 2013 pet expenditures totaling a whopping $55.72 billion in the nation. Put simply, people will do anything for their "family member," and that means spending quite a bit to keep them healthy. On the commercial side of the business, a growing global population bodes well that the demand for vaccines will remain high.
At 22 times forward earnings, MWI Veterinary Supply's "value stock" status may look questionable, but having a long-term projected growth rate in the double-digits, coupled with these aforementioned pet expenditures, could lead to decades of success for MWI.
John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors.
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 owns shares of, and recommends Whole Foods Market. It also recommends Adobe Systems. 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.