I'm a packrat by nature, and so it is with my stock ideas as well. If I've made money on a stock in the past, I'm always going to keep an eye on it (unless it goes belly up or sells out) in case circumstances allow for a repeat purchase. And so I thought I'd let other Fools see one of my periodic checkups into Material Sciences (NYSE:MSC).

If you don't know Material Sciences, don't feel bad. It's a tiny company (about $164 million in market cap) with practically no Wall Street research interest or support. It also happens to basically be a metals company highly tied to the domestic automobile industry. And if that weren't enough, it's had a dicey recent history of losses and debt.

What's past, though, is not necessarily prologue. The company ended this fiscal fourth quarter with rather little in the way of debt and managed an operating profit for both the quarter and full year.

So what does Material Sciences actually do? A big part of their business is in acoustical materials -- specifically, the company's QuietSteel. Useful in auto components like engines, brakes, and body panels, Material Sciences already does good business with the likes of DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX), Ford (NYSE:F), and General Motors (NYSE:GM). Unfortunately, it's not yet as strong with some of your better-performing carmakers like Toyota (NYSE:TM). Material Sciences also has a large coated metal business that coats rolls of metal with decorative and/or protective finishes.

By no means do I expect Material Sciences to abandon the automobile sector (it accounted for more than 60% of total sales this past year), and that's a mixed blessing. The company isn't looking for much in the way of growth this coming year, and that fits the general outlook for domestic producers.

On the other hand, the company does seem to be trying to recruit new customers and get them to consider new uses of QuietSteel. I, for one, would think that companies like General Electronic (NYSE:GE) and Samsung might at least consider the material for appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers -- and likewise with companies making heating/cooling units, consumer electronics, and so forth.

Admittedly, this is only the barest introduction to a risky idea. There are still some accounting weaknesses to be resolved, not to mention the threat of competition and ongoing sales erosion from domestic carmakers. But it's also true that once turnaround ideas look safe, most of the money has been made. Tread lightly here and do careful due diligence, and patient investors might just find there's some material potential in Material Sciences.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).