While many companies are rising past their fair values, others are trading at potential bargain prices. Although 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.
Looking overseas for deep discounts
The clock keeps ticking, but Europe as a whole is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Select countries that were bailed out, including Greece, Spain, and Portugal, continue to be a drag on the EU as concerns about high unemployment levels persist. It's one reason why Spanish-based Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) can't seem to catch a break.
The assumption that has pushed Telefonica lower is that weakness in Spain and throughout the EU will cause consumers to tighten their wallets. This could lead mobile users to choose lower-margin data plans in order to save money. Additionally, Telefonica's net debt of $53.5 billion is worrisome at a time when investors are growing wary of any company reliant on slow-growing Europe for a large portion of its revenue.
The good news for investors is that Telefonica is proactively aligning itself for future success, rather than crossing its fingers and hoping for the best.
Telefonica's plan of attack is simple: minimize expenses, rid itself of noncore assets, move into higher-growth and/or more stable markets, and update its infrastructure to make its network at least as attractive as its peers'.
For example, Telefonica announced in September that it would purchase Vivendi's Brazilian unit, GVT, for about $9 billion. The move will boost Telefonica's market share in Brazil to roughly 30%, which is great news, as Brazil could see an explosion of high-margin data usage as wireless infrastructure upgrades are made throughout the country. In turn, Telefonica has also sold its businesses in Ireland and the Czech Republic since 2013. By maximizing its focus on higher-growth opportunities and simplifying its business, Telefonica should be better prepared to compete against its peers.
In its latest quarter, Telefonica demonstrated both organic revenue growth and OIBDA growth, implying that its transformation, while slow, is taking shape. With a forward P/E of 11 and a monster dividend yield north of 6%, this value stock is worth a closer look.
A sip of Texas tea
As is often the case recently, it's time to dip our toes into the (deep) water once again and examine why small cap Pacific Drilling (NYSE:PACD) could be a value stock worth buying.
Why might Pacific Drilling be a stock to avoid? The company is reliant on the price of oil to sustain its backlog of orders, and as an ultra-deepwater driller, it has higher recovery costs than traditional onshore drillers, so an environment in which oil prices stay below $60 for an extended period of time could be bad news. In fact, Pacific Drilling's $2.8 billion in debt could put the company's survival in jeopardy two years or more from now if oil doesn't recover.
So what's to like? I'd primarily rest Pacific Drilling's success on two factors.
First, although crude oil prices have been falling precipitously for months, the worldwide demand for oil and energy assets is only expected to rise over the long run. According to BP, global consumption of oil is expected to surge 36% between what was used in 2011 to what's expected to be needed by 2030. From developed nations like the United States to emerging markets like India, oil demand is expected to remain a driving force. Therefore I don't expect this drop in oil prices to last very long.
The other factor involves Pacific Drilling's ultra-deepwater rig lineup. Whereas most of its peers are operating UDW drilling rigs that are in the neighborhood of 12 to 30 years old, Pacific Drilling's UDWs are less than three years old on average. The advantage is that newer rigs are more efficient and can recover at a quicker pace than older rigs. They also command higher interest from oil companies, which leads to more substantial dayrates and margins.
Because of the age of its fleet, Pacific Drilling has a solid backlog well into 2015. Of course, oil will need to rebound by late 2015, otherwise Pacific Drilling's backlog could taper off. I believe this is a reasonable gamble but one that only high-risk investors should be willing to take. At less than four times forward earnings, this is about as cheap a stock as you'll ever see.
A portfolio ATM
Last up this week, I'd suggest you take a closer look at Hancock Holding (NASDAQ:HBHC), a banking holding company for Hancock Bank, a retail and commercial banking service provider for the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.
Similar to Pacific Drilling, Hancock can blame much of its near-term weakness on oil. Per a report from Maria Bartiromo via USA Today in December, Hancock is one of the most exposed banks in terms of lending to oil companies. Therefore persistently low oil prices over an extended period of time could cause Hancock Holding's nonperforming loans to rise, and perhaps its profits to fall.
However, putting that aside, Hancock has delivered strong recent results where it counts most: deposits and loans. In the third quarter Hancock delivered net loan growth and net deposit growth of 16% and 13%, respectively, on a linked-quarter annualized basis. Even with a slight increase in loan loss provisions tied to the increase in loans made this past quarter, Hancock still delivered a healthy return on assets of 1%.
What makes Hancock truly attractive, beyond its double-digit percentage deposit and loan growth, is the fact that it's valued at just 92% of book value and less than 1.3 times tangible book value. By most standards that's pretty inexpensive, even taking into account its loan exposure to energy-related companies. Buying into Hancock won't leave you yearning for income, either: Hancock's 3.4% dividend yield is well above the average for the S&P 500 and could be a nice addition to any income investors' portfolio.
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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