While many companies' shares are rising past their fair values now, others are trading at potentially bargain prices. The difficulty with bargain shopping, though, is that you may be understandably hesitant to buy stocks wallowing at 52-week lows. In an effort to separate the rebound candidates from the laggards, it makes sense to start by determining whether the market has overreacted to a company's bad news.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
Did someone say "organic" growth?
I figured we'd start off this week by looking at something not only delectable from the perspective of value stock investors, but also delicious in literal terms: Hain Celestial Group (HAIN -0.04%).
Hain Celestial is a producer of organic and natural food, with brands such as Health Valley, Earth's Best, Imagine Foods, and, of course, Celestial Seasonings, under its belt. The recent issues for Hain Celestial can be summed up by two points.
First, it's dealing with more competition in the organic and natural food space, which could potentially cut down on supermarket shelf space and eat into pricing power. Second, we're seeing some executive level transitions at Hain, with its CFO leaving the company four months ago and the company's chief accounting officer hitting the exits next month. Anytime top-level executives leave a company it can draw questions from investors.
As for me, I view this recent weakness as a potentially attractive buying opportunity. For example, a Gallup poll conducted in August 2014 showed that 45% of respondents actively try to include organic foods in their diet, whereas only 15% avoid them. Additionally, younger adults are more likely to include organic foods in their diet than older adults. Thus, organic and natural foods offer long-term growth potential and have a fairly solid consumer base that understands they'll pay more, but that in return they'll be getting more nutritious food.
The other key factor here is that Hain Celestial can use its strong growth and reasonable debt levels to continue to expand its product portfolio through acquisitions. Hain Celestial is carrying $889 million in debt, but it generated $189 million operating cash flow over the trailing 12-month period, leaving little worries about its ability to fund growth. We saw this in action in December when Hain's U.K. unit announced the acquisition of Orchard House, which is expected to add $60 million-$65 million in net sales in 2016. Hain is showing that its earnings-accretive acquisition strategy doesn't need big purchases to make an impact.
With growing product diversity and a mid-to-high single-digit percentage top-line growth rate, Hain Celestial should be on your radar.
Banking on a long-term rebound
Next, we'll turn our attention to the banking sector, where there have arguably been deals-o-plenty this year. Specifically, I'd keep your eyes on Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB -0.03%).
Weakness in commodities, especially oil, have been causing the share price for a number of regional banks to crumble. Energy loans, as of early last year, made up about 2% of Fifth Third's total loan portfolio, and there's always the concern that continued low oil prices could wind up leading to loan defaults, adversely impacting Fifth Third's bottom-line. The Federal Reserve's nearly seven years of record-low lending rates have also crimped Fifth Third's interest income operations and tightened its net interest margin.
However, there's also a bright side here. For starters, Fifth Third has plenty of levers it can pull when it comes to cutting costs. Shuffling paper customers over to its wireless platform and continually investing in wireless attributes can reduce reliance on its physical branches. Not to mention that mobile transactions are considerably cheaper than in-person transactions. Some of these savings, as well as its gains from the sale of its stake in Vantiv, can be used for the repurchasing of its stock, which can ultimately help boost EPS.
The more important point here is that the credit quality of Fifth Third's loan portfolio has actually improved. Net charge-offs for the fourth quarter totaled just $80 million, or 0.34% of total loans and leases, down 46 basis points from the sequential third quarter. The company's latest earnings press release notes that the restructuring of student loan-backed commercial credit played a big role in lowering its sequential net charge-offs, but it also speaks to the generally high credit quality of Fifth Third's commercial loan portfolio.
This is a well-capitalized bank that could be looking to add small but earnings-accretive acquisitions in the not-so-distant future. Valued at less than nine times forward earnings, and trading right around its tangible book value, I would consider giving serious credence to this value stock in the banking sector.
The sun shines on this ETF
Lastly, we're going to take the road less traveled and look at a value ETF, the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN 0.70%).
Solar stocks in general have been hammered on two accounts. First, oil prices have fallen dramatically, and high fossil fuel prices were the impetus expected to drive electric utilities to switch to the cost-friendlier solar power. The other issue here is weakness in China's GDP. The vast majority of publicly traded solar companies hail from either China or the United States. If China's growth is slowing, the government there may pull back on some of its infrastructure investments within the sector.
Yet, the future for solar looks as bright as ever. Concerns over greenhouse emissions could continue to pressure coal sales domestically and abroad, and utilities in the U.S. are realizing how vital solar power can be for lowering long-term costs and meeting Environmental Protection Agency standards in the coming decades. It also doesn't hurt that companies like SolarCity (among the top holdings of the Guggenheim Solar ETF) now allow smaller businesses and residential homes to get in on the solar craze through leasing panels without having to spend an arm and a leg.
But what you really get with this value ETF is diversity. Instead of being caught off guard by just one or two solar stocks which could deliver bad news, you'll have your money spread across 31 separate securities with an average P/E of just seven and a price-to-book of 1.2. It's dominated by U.S. holdings, but Hong Kong, China, and European countries also make up 20%, 18%, and 12% of the fund, respectively.
Value investors would be wise to consider this ETF a multi-decade growth opportunity.