Though this year's stock market hasn't produced the same kind of explosive boom as 2013, the S&P 500 still hit an all-time high in early December. When the market continues to hit all-time high after all-time high, it can lead the average investor to believe that there are no cheap stocks Wall Street loves left to be bought.
But that's not necessarily the case. For example, we could define "cheap" stocks as those trading for a price-to-earnings-growth, or PEG, ratio of one or lower. And "stocks Wall Street loves" could simply be those with a high number of consensus "Buy" ratings.
If we use those as our criteria, then there might be more cheap stocks out there than you think, even in today's market. One of those stocks -- which is currently positioned in the middle of the Internet of Things -- is CalAmp (NASDAQ:CAMP).
What does the company do?
CalAmp has two business segments: Wireless DataCom and Satellite. The former is much larger than the latter, as it has pulled in roughly 80% of revenues and 87% of gross profits over the last six months.
For those who know the company well, Wireless DataCom's emergence as the key driver of growth should be no surprise. The division makes devices that allow machines to "talk to" other machines, or M2M communication. These machines are typically vehicles or large pieces of machinery.
Wireless DataCom itself has two addressable markets. The first is in heavy machinery. Companies like Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) use CalAmp's technology to monitor the performance of their vehicles, and let technicians know about potential mechanical problems before they happen -- resulting in significantly less down time, and happier customers.
The second major line of business for Wireless DataCom is user based insurance, or UBI. Though it might sound a little Big Brother-ish, insurance companies can offer lower premiums to customers who attach a CalAmp device and allow the insurance company to monitor a policyholder's driving behavior -- and adjust the premiums over time as they see fit.
Taken together, these two forces have combined to push CalAmp's revenue from Wireless DataCom from $99 million two-and-a-half years ago, to $197 million over the last twelve months--a growth rate of 32% per year.
What is the outlook?
CalAmp shareholders have endured a rough 2014. Since topping out at almost $34 per share in early March, shares have fallen 43%.
Much of that fall occurred in April when the company's quarterly earnings came in below expectations, and the company's guidance came in lower than analysts hoped. That trend continued in July, when the company beat expectations, but once again disappointed with guidance.
As of early December, the company has a PEG that's just slightly above one--meaning that it is fairly priced--and is considered a "Strong Buy" when averaged across the nine analysts following the company. Taken together, these analysts have a mean price target of $26.33, which would represent a 37% upside on today's prices.
What investors need to know
I won't be able to dive too deep into the nuts and bolts of the business in just one article, but there are a few key things investors need to know before deciding if they want to continue their research into CalAmp.
First, this is still a relatively small company, with a market cap of less than $1 billion. CalAmp is going after some rather large customers, especially in heavy machinery, and the timing of contracts being signed and executed can make revenue look very lumpy.
Second, CalAmp has a huge opportunity in front of it with UBI. The economic incentive for insurance companies and policy-owners to lower their premiums is very high, and there's an enormous market to be had if the idea catches on. In fact, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently stated that, "UBI is poised for rapid growth in the U.S., with many experts predicting that up to 20 percent of all vehicle insurance in the U.S. will incorporate some form of UBI within five years."
That being said, the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, and CalAmp will have to prove the value of its service to the UBI market before the company can really reach its potential. One of the biggest risks that investors need to keep an eye on is whether or not the company's first-mover advantage is really sustainable.
There are a number of companies out there focusing on M2M technology, and if CalAmp isn't smart about forming partnerships--especially in the insurance industry--it could be low-hanging fruit for a competitor to grab.
Brian Stoffel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends CalAmp. 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.