The stock market can be brutal. While some companies deserve to see their market valuations drop, others can fall for being associated with a specific industry or trend. That can be particularly frustrating for investors, but sticking to a long-term mind-set and keeping emotions at bay can help you ride out volatility or, better yet, find opportunities before Wall Street does. With value investing in mind, here are three beaten down stocks that should make investors happy in 2015.
Jason Hall: Plummeting oil prices are great for the economy, and with any luck, could act as a global "tax cut" in 2015. If this happens, and cheap oil does act as an economic stimulus, then demand for oil will grow, and prices will increase just as quickly as they fell.
In the meantime, oil producers must cut costs; many already have begun announcing major cuts to drilling programs for 2015. However, that's only a start -- very few companies can make money below $50 per barrel. That's where Core Laboratories (NYSE:CLB) comes in.
Core Lab's business is built around technology to help get oil and gas out of the ground more efficiently and cheaply. This matters, because each well has fixed, up-front costs, and if a producer can get even 5% more oil from a well, that will make a serious dent in costs per barrel of oil.
Management returns excess capital back to shareholders through a dividend -- yielding 2.5% today -- which it has increased the past three years, and through share buybacks that have retired 8% of shares since 2012.
The stock is down more than 50% from its high, though earnings per share is up. With a price to earnings multiple around 17, the company is a great value, especially considering the importance of its business to oil producers.
Adam Levine-Weinberg: Airline stocks soared in 2014. Consolidation and capacity discipline in the U.S. airline sector -- as well as an industry-wide focus on cost containment -- drove strong profit growth. The stunning collapse of oil prices in the past few months has created another windfall for airlines.
Yet Mexican budget carrier Volaris (NYSE:VLRS) was left out of the party. Volaris went public in late 2013 at $12/share. But while U.S. carriers were being very cautious about growth, several Mexican airlines added more capacity than the market could absorb in 2013 and early 2014.
These unfavorable market dynamics caused a sharp drop in Volaris' profitability in 2014. Volaris stock fell from an all-time high of nearly $16 in late 2013 to a low of around $7 last spring. The stock has regained some ground since then, but it still sits below $10.
This poor stock performance takes account of Volaris' weak 2014 earnings performance, but ignores its strongly positive trajectory. Fares started to bounce back this summer, and Volaris has nearly halted its domestic growth to bring supply and demand back into balance. Instead, it has added numerous flights to the U.S., where air travel demand is quite strong.
Volaris is thus likely to achieve higher fares and fuller planes this year. Meanwhile, it is on pace to save more than $100 million on fuel this year due to the steep drop in oil prices. As a result, EPS may soar from just pennies in 2014 to more than $1 in 2015. If so, Volaris stock could revisit -- and possibly exceed -- its all-time high later this year.
Maxx Chatsko: It's relatively boring and based in an emerging market -- a term that became a bit scarier to investors in 2014 -- but leading Brazilian chemical manufacturer Braskem (NYSE:BAK) should be on your investment radar. The company is one of the world's leading producers of sustainable chemicals and thermoplastic resins, which are the chemical building blocks that create countless products we use everyday. And despite losing 31% of its market cap in the last 12 months, the growth engine remains red hot.
Braskem has been making strategic growth investments for over 10 years and now owns 36 production and research facilities worldwide. That provides a great base for revenue and earnings generation (and protects the company's gaudy 4.5% dividend), but it's the expansion projects in the pipeline that should get investors excited.
The most impressive is a 1 million-ton-per-year ethylene facility in Mexico that will begin operations in the second half of 2015. Although Braskem is looking to sell production globally if possible, Mexico is a net importer of ethylene, boasting an annual deficit of 1.2 million tons. Better yet, the natural gas feeding the facility costs the same as globally competitive shale gas in North America, which means the company's shiny new facility should easily outcompete those in the relatively distant United States Gulf Coast, expected to come online in the next few years.