Much like companies that are rising past their fair values, we can often find companies trading at what may be bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with stocks wallowing at 52-week lows, I think it makes a lot of sense to see whether the market has overreacted to a company's bad news.
Here's a look at three fallen angels trading near their 52-week lows that could be worth buying.
Steel of a deal
It's been nearly five years, but following a fast and furious post-March 2009 rally steel maker ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) is still in a steady downtrend.
Over the past five years ArcelorMittal has shed 75% of its value as weakened commodity prices have weighed on its mining operations and demand for steel has fluctuated. China, for instance, is a big consumer of iron ore and steel, but its third-quarter GDP growth of 7.3% marks a five-year low. If China were to scale back on its infrastructure build-out, or if auto sales around the globe stall, then demand for steel and iron ore could take an additional hit. Not to mention that iron ore prices have fallen for five straight weeks and are flirting with their lowest levels in five years at roughly $70 per dry ton.
I'd be remiss if I didn't say ArcelorMittal has earned a bit of the skepticism. But following the stock's 75% haircut, I'd also argue that emotions and an overwhelming focus on iron ore may have superseded the better judgment of investors.
A comment made by CEO Lakshmi N. Mittal in the company's third-quarter earnings release really stood out to me:
This quarter`s results show the considerable improvement in our steel business which has more than offset the fall in the iron ore price. Europe has delivered another strong quarter, reflecting improved market conditions and the benefits of the optimisation efforts, the turnaround in ACIS is evident, and the NAFTA business has recovered after a disappointing first half. Based on today`s market conditions, I do not foresee a deterioration in our performance in the fourth quarter.
Mittal's comment summarizes many of the reasons ArcelorMittal now looks attractive.
First, the company is sticking to its EBITDA guidance thanks to the fact that its European business isn't expected to deteriorate further.
Secondly, its steel business is relatively strong (a 3.9% increase in year-over-year steel shipments) and is more than offsetting the weak pricing in the iron ore segment. In other words, skeptics are overvaluing the negative impact of low iron ore prices on ArcelorMittal's businesses.
Finally, the company is doing an excellent job of cutting its mining and production costs so as to remain profitable. The company's operating income doubled year over year to $959 million in Q3.
Though investors will want to monitor ArcelorMittal's hefty $17.7 billion net debt position, at around half its book value and 13 times forward earnings, this value stock shows real potential for an eventual rebound.
The most lustrous of all metals
For this week's second "value pick," I'll stick within the metals sector by highlighting the iShares Silver Trust ETF (NYSEMKT:SLV).
Silver prices have come under heavy selling pressure for the past three years. After spiking to nearly $50 per ounce on what could best be described as emotional trading in 2011, silver has lost about 70% of its value and dropped back to levels not seen since early 2010. In response to these lower prices, some miners have canceled their mine expansion plans, and many skittish traders have long since given up on this ETF.
Yet despite that fact that the iShares Silver Trust pays no dividend, I'm intrigued.
The reason I believe value investors may want to pay close attention to silver prices relates to demand. When the price of a good or service falls, it becomes attractive to consumers and businesses, who then gobble up the product and support the price. We could be seeing this inflection point taking shape, with a number of industries expected to see a rise in silver demand.
For example, silver's superior thermal and electrical conductivity makes it a perfect metal for semiconductors, batteries, and solar photovoltaic cells. Based on estimates from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, global PV solar capacity by 2018 should be somewhere between 321 GW and 430 GW, up from 139 GW in 2013 and just 1.3 GW in 2000. This means rapid growth in silver demand if the EPIA's forecast proves accurate.
This also backs up an independent report compiled by Thomson Reuters GMFS for World Silver Survey that was released in May. The report showed that demand for physical silver hit an all-time high in 2013, up 13% from the prior year to 1.1 billion ounces. The implication here is that lower silver prices are attracting investors, reducing scrap trade-ins, which had caused silver supply to soar and could cause a demand-led surge in prices.
Though a physical metal ETF might be pushing the boundaries of a value stock just a bit, I believe the ongoing and projected increase in demand tells the tale of where silver is headed over the long run.
This value stock may have you breathing easier
Lastly, I'll turn to the biotech sector with another somewhat unorthodox value stock selection: Theravance (UNKNOWN:THRX.DL).
I say unorthodox because Theravance is currently losing money, and a stock that's losing money is normally excluded from consideration as a traditional value stock. However, I believe there are many facets to qualifying a stock as a "value," and Theravance meets some of those exceptions to the traditional rule.
First things first, why is Theravance near a new low? Simply put, it whiffed on the top and bottom lines in its third-quarter earnings report.
After splitting earlier this year into a royalty company (Theravance) and a development-stage company (Theravance BioPharma), Theravance remains focused on promoting two chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) meds approved by the Food and Drug Administration known as Breo Ellipta and Anoro Ellipta. Both of these inhaled, longer-lasting meds were developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK).
In Q3 Theravance reported $4 million in net royalty revenue -- not far from what analysts had expected -- but wound up amortizing about $3 million in intangible assets. Long story short, Theravance's total net revenue of $1 million and loss of $0.19 per share were worse than expected.
Now here's the good news: Theravance and GlaxoSmithKline have two FDA-approved COPD drugs that could wind up being blockbusters. The launch of both Breo and Anoro has been a bit slower than expected, but some of that can be attributed to branded therapies that will soon face generic competition. With COPD affecting more than 6% of the U.S. population, and no cure in sight, it's a chronic condition with a large patient pool suited best for Glaxo and Theravance.
Best of all, and as noted above, Theravance is a royalty company, which means big dividends for shareholders. With a projected payout of $1 per share each year, the company is yielding in excess of 7%. Whether or not this high-yield dividend proves sustainable will depend on how well Breo and Anoro ramp up, as well as how the remainder of the COPD products Theravance and Glaxo are collaborating on fare in clinical studies.
Having a large patient pool, a 7%-plus yield, and two potential blockbusters already approved lands this stock in the vaunted value stock category in my book.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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