Wow. I almost choked on my burrito when I saw how cheap Chipotle Grill
Not in the least.
If anything, I've been inspired by the amazing opportunities we've been handed, as everything in the market -- bad or good -- has gotten clobbered.
I mean, come on. A growing company with virtually no debt, a smart management program, and plenty of room for more growth (I have friends in other states who haven't even heard of it -- yet) trading at half last year's price?
And, of course, let's not forget its quality products. What other fast-food joint serves up specialties like "naturally raised pork, seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, juniper berries and freshly cracked black pepper"? That's living high on the hog -- but at cheap Chipotle prices. No wonder the company's same-store sales have been growing in the double digits for 11 straight years.
So what's the catch?
Chipotle reports earnings tomorrow. They could be impressive. They could be disappointing, especially since the restaurant sector has been having a rough year. Look no further than Buffalo Wild Wings
But frankly, I don't care about one quarter of earnings in what has become a difficult market for just about everything -- and you shouldn't, either.
Chipotle's long-term prospects matter most. A negative earnings surprise will only make the stock cheaper -- and more attractive.
What else is on the dollar menu?
Chipotle isn't the only company with fabulous prospects and a cheap price tag these days. Take a look at the Chinese superstar ShengdaTech
NPCC goes into the production of paper, plastic, rubber, and a host of other everyday materials. And given the surging demand for it, you'd think ShengdaTech was selling iPhones.
The company stepped up its factory capacity in 2006 so that it could crank out 90,000 metric tons of NPCC per year (up from 30,000). Last July, it had to add another 40,000 metric tons to keep up with demand, and by April, its total capacity had grown to 190,000 metric tons. Apparently, NPCC is sexy.
Revenue from ShengdaTech's NPCC products swelled 49% year over year to $13.4 million in Q1 2008, which helped boost the company's net income 37% from the year-ago period. Oh, and revenue from its other business segment (chemicals) has gone up, too.
Investing in a chemical company has its own risks (government regulations, raw materials costs, etc.). There's also an added wild card: China's market is in a nasty funk of its own right now, and these conditions will take time to work themselves out, undoubtedly with a few bumps along the way.
However, if you're patient and willing to take on some risk in exchange for tremendous upside potential, consider this rapidly growing, debt-free company while it still trades for around $8. Even ShengdaTech's executives believe in its prospects enough to own 44% of its shares. The last two insider transactions -- in April and June -- were buys.
These are just two examples of companies that are ripe for the picking. What do they have in common?
They have solid fundamentals, great prospects -- and they're small caps. Chipotle is capitalized at $2.6 billion, while ShengdaTech is capitalized at only $468 million. Small caps have lots of room to grow -- can you imagine Procter & Gamble
There are plenty more just like them. At Motley Fool Hidden Gems, we look for excellent companies that are small, obscure, and ignored, because companies with those characteristics are likely to outperform the market over the long run.
Right now, we're recommending a market-leading metals company with strong growth and amazing prospects. If you'd like to find out more -- including our other recommendations for new money now -- check out Hidden Gems with a free, 30-day trial. Click here to get started. There's no obligation to subscribe.
Cindy Embleton owns shares of Chipotle (the lip-smacking B variety) and ShengdaTech, and she prefers them both with a splash of lime. Chipotle Grill and Buffalo Wild Wings are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. Chipotle is also a Rule Breakers selection. Jack in the Box is a Hidden Gems Pay Dirt and Inside Value pick. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings. The Fool's disclosure policy is growing cheaper by the minute, and it's free with a large cola if you order the family size.