You know it's bad when even blue-chip stocks have entered my monthly pool of candidates for attractive stocks trading at single-digit prices. I've been singling out attractive low-priced stocks since my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column more than seven years ago. The pool I have to choose from deepens with every downtick.
There are risks aplenty in scouring the single-digit minefields, but there are also rewards to be had for those who choose correctly.
Let's go over this month's list, which I've limited to companies with market caps greater than $1 billion.
I'm not a fan of the banking sector. In fact, Citi was the subject of my weekly "Throw This Stock Away" column six weeks ago. However, Citi was a cocky stock priced at $15.15 a stub then. It is humbler and 37% cheaper today.
I feel that the worst of the massive write-offs and dividend slashing is over at Citigroup. It may not be the strongest banking company, but it has what it takes to be a survivor. As sector consolidation claims the weaker players at accretive prices, Citi is in a much better place than the market is giving it credit for.
Was it a mistake for AOL and Time Warner to get together at the peak of the dot-com bubble? Of course. However, now that the combined company is trading at a small fraction of what either company was commanding before the megamerger, maybe it's time to send in the value hounds.
Time Warner is not a broken company. It reported respectable quarterly earnings earlier this month, posting a better than expected profit from continuing operations. The company is looking to earn between $1.04 a share to $1.07 a share this year, valuing the stock at less than nine times this year's projected earnings.
While AOL is a fading asset that Time Warner should have sold off years ago, the company still has dependable cable assets, a stagnant-but-reliable print publishing arm, and a movie studio division that tends to crank out a hit every so often. Time Warner is looking to generate $5.5 billion in free cash flow this year. It doesn't have to be a well-oiled machine to give today's buyers healthy turnaround gains.
Another media giant that has fallen on hard times is Rupert Murdoch's conglomerate. Can you believe that the company that made the dot-com buy of the decade when it snapped up leading social networking site MySpace is now in the single digits? Well, with News Corp.'s exposure to print and broadcasting advertising, the global malaise has clearly hit the media mogul hard.
These are tough times for the media giants. CBS
The java junkie also got the "Throw This Stock Away" treatment back in June. The Seattle sensation has gone on to shed half of its value since then -- and far more dating back to its all-time high of $40.01 set two years ago.
Is Starbucks a mess? Of course it is. Its latest quarter was a disaster. It will likely get worse in the near term. The 8% plunge in comps may very well widen as layoffs continue and those lucky enough to have a morning commute sidestep the pricey latte pick-me-ups.
So why buy Starbucks? Well, investing is about the future. The company still has a killer brand. It is widening its product offerings in a way that won't alienate regulars. I've dissed the stock over the years, but enough is enough. Starbucks is finally cheap.
With shares of Southwest
With fuel prices plunging and legacy carriers scaling back, it's a good time to be JetBlue. The low-price carrier with a penchant for in-flight entertainment has run into a bit of turbulence lately, but analysts now see the company earning $0.66 a share next year. Like its fares, it's a compelling value.
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.
There are mature stocks, but most of the picks in my monthly list are smaller companies. Finding promising stocks while they're still cutting their baby teeth is at the heart of what I write about in the Rule Breakers newsletter. You can check it out for free with a 30-day trial subscription. There are more than a half-dozen active stock recommendations in the growth stock research service trading for less than $10 at the moment. Check those out, and I'll be back with more next month.