Low-priced stocks aren't an endangered species these days. They're everywhere. I've been singling out attractive stocks that are trading in the single digits, dating all the way back to my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column more than seven years ago. The pool I have to choose from changes with every downtick.
There are risks aplenty in scouring the single-digit minefields, but there are clearly rewards to be had for those who choose correctly.
Let's go over this month's list.
I've been a big fan of China's online gaming sector for a long time. Two of the earliest Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter recommendations -- singled out nearly four years ago -- are leaders in multiplayer fantasy role-playing games. Giant isn't one of them. The company behind ZT Online just went public last year. However, it's offering up a pretty compelling value here as a busted IPO.
Growth is on a tear at Giant. Revenue and earnings grew 36% and 33% respectively in its latest quarter. With 1.8 million paying accounts, Giant clearly knows what the world's most populous nation likes to play. Now trading at less than eight times next year's projected profitability, it's a game that investors may want to play as well.
The market may not be ready to kiss and make up, but it's never too early to start thinking about makeup. Bare Escentuals makes all-natural mineral makeup, and what's the adage about feel-good cosmetics during times of economic strife?
Bare's stock was laid bare over the summer, after the company lowered its guidance. The company also troubled shareowners with its buoyant inventory levels, but this is not the kind of problematic spike that preceded the downfall of Crocs
Giant and Bare Escentuals don't just have their stock prices in the single digits. The same can be said for their forward earnings multiples.
A couple of years ago, United Online may as well have been making buggy whips. The company's core business revolved around the value-priced NetZero and Juno dial-up Internet access service. It's a money tree, sure, but a fading one. But now that the company has social-networking pioneer Classmates.com, loyalty shopping network MyPoints.com, and its recent FTD purchase, connecting dial-up dinosaurs to the Web makes up just 25% of United's revenue mix.
The company slashed its quarterly dividend to $0.10 a share, and it's unlikely to creep lower. Mr. Market sees the company earning $1.20 a share this year, before dipping to $1.10 a share in 2009. So if the single-digit P/E doesn't win you over, the reliable 5.1% yield should support the stock at these levels.
Commercial real estate isn't as dire as the calamity on the residential side, but tight credit markets and buckling corporations are a nasty one-two punch these days. LoopNet should still fare better than the niche as a whole, given its pole-position dominance as the leading online marketplace for commercial properties.
With 623,000 listings and more than 3 million registered members, LoopNet is attracting audiences, profitably. I had a chat with LoopNet CEO Richard Boyle last month and walked away impressed with the company's positioning in a market that will bounce back quickly when the economy rebounds.
China Finance Online
Even as stocks have fallen in Shanghai, China Finance Online's results have taken off. Could it be that speculators have become investors, flocking to legitimate equity analysis? It's an encouraging theory. CFO's popular Stockstar and JRJ.com sites provide individual investors with resources to bone up on the country's growing collection of publicly traded companies.
It isn't necessarily Fool.com in Mandarin, but it's the right product at the right time in the right country. A financial portal deal with telco heavy China Telecom
Analysts see earnings growing from $0.79 a share this year to $1.41 a share next year. Yes, the low-priced market has gotten so cheap that I can single out five promising stocks, and four of them have forward earnings multiples in the single digits. LoopNet is the odd one out, but how silly have valuations become when a company with a year-ahead bottom-line multiple of 14 is the high one?
Five for the road
Turnarounds never happen overnight. These five stocks aren't trading in the single digits by accident. If I'm right about the catalysts, though, they may not be trading in the single digits for too much longer.
Finding promising stocks while they're still cutting their baby teeth is at the heart of the Rule Breakers newsletter. You can check it out for free this month with a 30-day trial subscription. There are more than a half-dozen active stock recommendations in the growt- stock research service trading for less than $10 at the moment, including IMAX. Check those out, and I'll be back with more next month.
CROCS is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt selection. LoopNet and Bare Escentuals are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. LoopNet, China Finance Online Co. Ltd., and Bare Escentuals are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders how many people know that Alexander Hamilton is the one on the $10 bill. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.