It used to be so easy to pick out promising stocks trading in the single digits. There weren't a lot of stocks worth recommending at those levels, so narrowing down the already shallow pool of candidates was a breeze.
It's way different these days. There are actually a ton of great stocks that just happen to have hit rough trading patterns. As Barron's points out over the weekend, 80 of the S&P 500 stocks are now trading below the $10 mark.
I've been singling out attractive low-priced stocks since my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column more than seven years ago. 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.
It's been a long way down for the former tech bellwether. Things were once going so well that it declared a three-for-one stock split eight years ago. These days it's struggling to be a force in wireless handsets as proprietary smartphones are all the rage. It's not doing so hot elsewhere, either.
The upside here is that Motorola remains profitable on an annual basis. Analysts see the company generating a profit of $0.06 a share this year and $0.10 come 2009. Sure, that's well shy of what Wall Street was expecting before its latest quarter's debacle, but it also explains the value meal price.
China Finance Online
The appetite for investing research is huge in China, as you may imagine. Even after watching its own market take a pounding in recent quarters, China Finance Online continues to grow. The market research portal now has 10.9 million registered users, though most of them are free users.
However, even with the company scaling back expectations given the worries and concerns of individual investors, it is still deliciously profitable and looking for revenue to clock in 63% to 69% higher than last year in the current quarter. It may get rough over the next few quarters, but when Chinese equities bounce back this one will be a slingshot.
Advanced Micro Devices is still at least a couple of years away from profitability, but the market can't let it fail. Intel
AMD is a risky bet based on current financials, but it cleans up nicely when you consider that computer makers would hate to be at the mercy of an Intel monopoly.
This is the second Chinese stock on this month's list. It's also the second active Rule Breakers recommendation. Focus Media runs a huge display advertising network in China.
From a fleet of television monitors in highly-trafficked pedestrian areas, digital poster frames in elevators, and even a big role in online display advertising, Focus Media knows how to get its advertisers noticed. Now it just needs to get investors to notice.
The company has recently talked down its current quarter and is bowing out of unattractive niches, but analysts still see chunky profitability here. They see Focus Media earning $1.72 a share this year (before massive restructuring charges) and $1.70 a share in 2009. Yes, the shares are trading at just five times earnings.
This isn't broadcast media's finest hour but it's unlikely that CBS will trade in the single digits for too much longer. The company still has a slate of hit shows on its namesake network and a terrestrial radio presence that isn't going to die despite the growth of portable media players and the presence of Sirius XM Radio
The Internet will ultimately reward quality content, and that goes for the company's broadcast, book publishing, and even thriving Web businesses.
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 that I write for. 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 on the third Monday of next month.
Focus Media Holding is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. China Finance Online and Focus Media Holding are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. The Fool owns shares of Intel as well as covered calls on it. 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 ten dollar 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.