If you've got 10 bucks, I have some stock ideas for you.
I've been singling out attractive opportunities in low-priced stocks since my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column nine years ago, and I've seen plenty of stocks with pocket change prices generate incredible gains.
There are risks, and they are readily apparent given the recent volatility. There are often good reasons for stocks to be ignored or beaten down. However, a market rally can work wonders for the unloved with positive catalysts in their pockets.
Let's go over my five picks from March of last year to prove my point.
Dec. 16, 2010
March 13, 2009
|Sirius XM Radio||$1.39||$0.198||602%|
*Bare Escentuals was acquired for $18.20 a share earlier this year.
The average gain of 389% in less than two years is remarkable. Sirius XM Radio
Let's go over this month's picks.
Growth is finally starting to click at this provider of automated workforce management and optimization solutions for the service industry.
Oh, you can't tell from its most recent quarter. Revenue in its latest quarter inched up just 5% to $17.5 million over the previous year, and earnings dipped slightly. However, delays in signing key contracts were behind the ho-hum quarter. ClickSoftware is targeting at least $20 million in revenue during the current quarter, a huge sequential uptick.
Analysts see ClickSoftware earning $0.41 a share in 2010 and $0.51 a share in the year ahead. It creates a compelling valuation for a cash-rich enterprise software company that's starting to come into its own.
Morgans Hotel Group
The boutique hotel operator made the cut of this monthly column 14 months ago, when its stock price was slumming it at $5.03. The stock has nearly doubled since then, but its fundamentals have also improved sharply.
Morgans has posted three consecutive quarters of double-digit percentage gains in revenue per available room. Higher occupancy levels coupled with slightly higher rates have created a potent one-two punch, though these gains are coming based on last year's sharply depressed levels.
Morgans is still posting losses, though analysts see the deficit narrowing significantly in the year ahead. The upside of today's red ink is that Morgans has amassed $180 million in net operating losses to help out on the tax bite when it finally turns the corner. Either way, adjusted EBITDA is positive.
Upstart biotechs are feast or famine for risk-tolerant investors, and ImmunoGen is no different. The cancer-tackling specialist has come up with a way to make monoclonal antibodies more effective in zapping away cancerous tumors.
If this sounds impressive, it's time to remind yourself why this stock is still in the single digits. ImmunoGen's approach sounds good on paper, and it's been testing relatively well in clinical trials, but Food and Drug Administration approval is a long and drawn-out process. Until that potential payday arrives, ImmunoGen will continue to burn through its cash.
In other words, in a year or two this stock will be substantially higher -- or substantially lower -- than it is today. Biotech guru Karl Thiel recommended the stock to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers two months ago, so I like its chances.
Investors have generally flocked to China's sexier stocks, so it's not surprising to see a lack of speculative love for this small grocery store chain with all of 42 supermarkets in northeastern China.
Take a look, and you may like what you see.
QKL isn't a speedster. Revenue climbed all of 15% in its latest quarter. Gross profit grew slightly higher, but a surge in operating expenses as it gears up for headier expansion smacked the bottom line. QKL is still profitable, though -- and that's huge.
Unlike many of the leveraged grocers closer to home, QKL carries no debt on its balance sheet. The $48.4 million in unrestricted cash makes up nearly half of its market cap, so there's some degree of downside protection as long as QKL can keep the money flowing in the right direction.
The only two stateside analysts tracking the stock see QKL growing its earnings to either $0.31 a share or $0.50 a share next year. Even if QKL merely splits the difference, it's growing a lot faster than its single-digit earnings multiple for 2011 would seem to suggest.
FormFactor has seen better days. A board shakeup and bleak outlook for the upcoming quarter rocked the stock last week back into our single-digit playground.
FormFactor has truly been a dog this year, missing Wall Street's profit estimates in each of the three previous quarters. The grim near-term guidance isn't helping, and it also continues to lose a lot of money. Instead of holding my nose in approaching the semiconductor probe card test manufacturer, I see an opportunity. The stock is now trading just barely above its bountiful cash balance, paving the way for an opportunistic acquirer to pick up FormFactor without having to shell out a ton of dough.
If FormFactor doesn't get snapped up, that may prove to be even better. If it's able to turn itself around, it has valuable tax loss carryforwards to apply to future earnings.
Five for the road
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 this month with a 30-day trial subscription. There are nearly a dozen active stock recommendations in the growth stock research service trading for less than $10 at the moment, including ImmunoGen. Check those out, and I'll be back with more on the third Monday of next month.
ImmunoGen is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on FormFactor, which is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. The Fool owns shares of FormFactor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
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.