While many companies are rising past their fair values, others are trading at potential bargain prices. While many investors would rather have nothing to do with stocks wallowing at 52-week lows, it makes 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.
Value in the oil fields
The past couple of months have been nothing short of a disaster for independent oil and gas producers. Saudi Arabia has stood pat on its stance not to lower production in an effort to nab more of the world's market share from U.S. shale producers. Because Saudi oil fields can operate profitably even with oil prices under $70 per barrel, many highly indebted and high-cost drillers are in a bind.
One independent oil and gas value stock that should be on everyone's radar, even with oil prices taking it on the chin, is Oklahoma-based Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN).
I understand why Devon has been hit along with the rest of the sector. As part of the natural-gas fallout in early 2012, when prices briefly dipped below $2/mmBTU, natural-gas-heavy producers like Devon were forced to scramble for ways to boost their profitability. For many drillers that meant turning to more oil and natural-gas-liquids production. In Devon's third-quarter report, the company noted that liquids now comprise 55% of the company's retained asset mix as of the end of the quarter. This means Devon is more exposed to oil than it had been in the past.
But there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Devon's balanced asset portfolio. While oil does traditionally go through hiccups, it's historically been a higher-margin asset than natural gas that tends to increase in demand over time. Growing its oil production from 111,100 barrels per day in 2010 to 216,000 barrels per day as of Q3 2014 should be a boon for Devon shareholders over the long run.
Devon's geographic diversity could pay dividends, too.
The company's liquids operations in the Eagle Ford, Permian Basin, and Anadarko Basin are close enough to Louisiana terminals that it can take advantage of any significant difference in Brent versus West Texas Intermediate pricing by shipping its liquids via rail to those terminals and reaping the extra profits. Additionally, Devon's Rockies Oil assets offer some of the company's highest-quality wells to date. Not to mention that natural gas represents a large enough portion of Devon's asset portfolio that it can switch gears again if necessary.
Lastly, the value metrics have become compelling. Devon is trading at a mere 11 times forward earnings, is quickly approaching its book value, and has a debt-to-equity ratio of 45%, which is reasonably low compared to many of its peers. This leaves Devon in a favorable position to scoop up additional assets should we see a wave of asset sales in the wake of weakening oil prices.
Of course, drillers aren't the only companies to take it on the chin as oil has fallen. Oil service and equipment providers like FMC Technologies (NYSE:FTI) have been throttled. FMC Technologies saw about 20% of its market value vanish in a week's time.
As with Devon, it's understandable why falling oil prices are hurting FMC. FMC's primary business is to provide offshore subsea service solutions to the oil and gas industry, with its other revenue coming from its surface technologies and energy infrastructure segments. The idea here is that if oil prices continue to fall, then drillers may simply cut back on production and drill new wells. That would be bad for companies like FMC, which rely on steady or rising oil prices to drive their growth.
Yet FMC stands out to me as a prime oil service value stock worth considering for three reasons.
First, FMC boasts a healthy order backlog of $6.8 billion as of the third quarter, including $5.9 billion in its Subsea Technologies division. Based on the company's projected revenue this year, FMC's backlog equates to around 10 months' worth of annual revenue just waiting to be accounted for. It's not as if every project out there will cease, so this backlog should sustain FMC for many quarters to come.
Secondly, investors should understand just how important offshore assets are becoming for the oil and gas industry. This isn't to say new finds aren't occurring on land, but deepwater drillers are expected to make some of the biggest finds over the coming decade. This could bring FMC's subsea solutions into the spotlight and provide some order and cash flow predictability for FMC's shareholders. Also remember that FMC's services are highly specialized, which places the company in a sector with a relatively high barrier to entry.
Lastly, it's all about the valuation. FMC's PEG ratio, which measures how inexpensive the company is based on its future profits, is below 0.9 (anything below one is often considered a good value), and its debt-to-equity is also a reasonable 50%, meaning it has the capacity to make acquisitions if a great deal arises. Long story short, value stocks abound in the energy industry at the moment.
Holy dividend, Batman!
Finally, I'll turn your attention to the financial sector and point out why business development company Apollo Investment (NASDAQ:AINV) might deserve a spot on your watchlist.
In recent quarters, Apollo Investment has dealt with two knocks that have pushed its share price lower. First, increased market volatility isn't helping. BDCs offer their best profit potential when financial markets are calm and interest rate visibility is clear. With volatility picking up and the guessing game beginning on when the Federal Reserve might begin raising its federal funds rate target, shareholders are feeling uncertain.
Secondly, investors have been enamored of high-growth stocks for the past five years, and Apollo Investment isn't one of them. With traders chasing growth at the expense of high-yield dividends, Apollo Investment's stock has simply drifted lower.
The good news is this value stock appears to be making all the right moves lately.
For starters, Apollo Investments' asset portfolio has shifted toward secured debt holdings, which are backed in case of default. In the latest quarter Apollo Investment noted that 63% of its assets were secured debt compared to just 56% two quarters prior. These safer investments tend to have lower yields, but they are also less volatile and allow for the use of more leverage.
While being safer with its debt, the company is also positioning itself for the future with a beefed-up number of floating-rate securities. Two quarters ago, 58% of its assets were fixed-rate, and 42% were floating-rate. In the latest quarter, 51% of Apollo's assets were fixed-rate, and 49% were floating-rate. This is important, because when interest rates do begin to rise -- which is expected in 2015 -- Apollo Investment will be better positioned to reap the rewards of those rising rates.
Lastly, we can't overlook Apollo's delectable 9.6% yield. Although this payout is bound to fluctuate along with lending rates, the expectation of a high-single-digit yield is very much in play over the coming years. Given the forward P/E of just nine, consider me enticed by Apollo Investment!
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.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy, and recommends Apollo Investment and FMC Technologies. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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