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.
How much wood would you chuck?
If you're an investor in discount flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators (NYSE:LL) the answer to that question in recent weeks has been you would chuck as much wood (and shares) out of your portfolio as possible.
Lumber Liquidators has come under significant selling pressure recently after a 60 Minutes report alleged the company's flooring contained high levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing agent. The company refuted the report, but the damage has clearly been done to Lumber Liquidators' reputation.
Adding salt to the wound, the company also failed to live up to expectations last month with its fourth-quarter earnings results and 2015 guidance. Despite a 5.2% increase in net sales, Lumber Liquidators missed Wall Street's quarterly earnings-per-share estimate by $0.12. Looking ahead, its full-year forecast called for $2.50-$3 in EPS, which at the midpoint compares unfavorably to the Street's expectation of $2.96 per share.
Despite these woes, I think now could be the time to begin thinking about edging your foot onto the hardwood.
For starters, consumers often have a very short attention span for company PR gaffes. Even if Lumber Liquidators is complying with the law, the 60 Minutes report is going to leave a temporary PR hit. But the negative undertone should dissipate within the next year, potentially leaving the company with some very beatable same-store comparisons in 2016.
Lumber Liquidators' management also has a well-defined plan to keep its costs down and its operating efficiency up. The company eliminated the middleman and now personally oversees production of its wood in China. Although the source of concern at the moment relates to its Chinese facilities, the cost to produce its hardwood is comparably cheaper than its peers', allowing it to generally undercut the competition on price. The company's low prices are also a major source of its value claim, which is a driving force to draw consumers into its retail locations.
Lastly, the valuation makes sense if Lumber Liquidators can deliver on its previous guidance. Shares are trading at roughly 10 times the midpoint of its 2015 guidance, yet I believe the retailer can grow its top line by anywhere from 5% to 10% per year. Even with reduced growth estimate we're still looking at a PEG ratio of less than one, making this a value stock that risk-taking investors should consider.
I hope you're sitting down, because after consistently arguing against buying 3D printing companies, I'm about to suggest one as a possible buy candidate. Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the much-maligned 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD).
I've had a number of concerns with 3D printing companies: Their valuations were astronomical, with forward P/Es often in the triple-digit range; their technology was transformative, but the industry hadn't figured out the best way to capitalize on it; and most companies were growing via acquisition, usually masking a much weaker organic growth rate.
3D Systems' stock was slammed following the company's fourth-quarter results and fiscal 2015 guidance, along with an unexpectedly weak forecast from rival Stratasys. Despite 21% year-over-year revenue growth to $187.4 million, 3D Systems' revenue was $16 million shy of Wall Street's projection. The company blamed the miss on foreign currency translation headwinds, weak North American channel productivity, and product delays.
The good news, as I see it, is this slower period of growth will allow 3D Systems to regroup and come back stronger than ever.
If 3D Systems continues to focus on the consumer and works through its supply-side issues, while at the same time slowing its merger and acquisition activity, we should see substantial margin improvement by the second half of this year. Remember, 3D Systems' primary path to growth has been through acquisitions, and these buyouts usually lead to some very hefty expenses, which can sometimes extend many quarters out. This isn't to say 3D Systems should halt acquisitions altogether, but to instead suggest that a cooling-off period could result in surprisingly strong margins and better-than-expected profits.
3D printing also offers a big market opportunity beyond just the manufacturing sector -- in healthcare, for example, where 3D printing could personalize implantable devices for patients. We're still just touching the tip of the iceberg regarding what can be created, but as the availability of 3D printers become increasingly available, and their costs decline, the desire to investigate their medical potential should only rise.
3D Systems' now-reasonable forward P/E of 22 is made even more appetizing when you examine its PEG ratio of just 1.1. While 2015 could still be a bit bumpy for investors, the long-term situation finally looks bright for 3D Systems.
An "All American" value
Lastly, I'd suggest value stock investors once again point their attention toward the oil and gas sector -- specifically midstream companies -- and consider Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE:PAA) for their portfolio.
As you might imagine, weakness in oil and natural gas prices has Wall Street and investors concerned about a prolonged slowdown in drilling, and subsequently a reduced demand to transport and store fossil fuels. Plains All American's latest quarterly report made clear the company is not immune to the recent drop in commodity prices and has adjusted its dividend growth and acquisition expectations a bit lower in response.
However, panicking is the wrong reaction with midstream companies like Plains All American. Instead, investors should be fishing for great deals.
One thing to remember with pipelines is they often lock in fee-based, long-term contracts. The good thing about long-term contracts is that regardless of commodity price fluctuations they lock in some minimum for transport and storage. The end result is a fairly predictable cash flow and the ability to predict its dividend payout for up to a year or more in advance.
Another important point is that midstream companies are likely to be the industry where big-money investments are made over the coming decades. With a bounty of U.S. shale deposits and the likelihood of global oil and natural gas demand rising, the need for pipelines and storage outlets should only increase.
There's also Plains All American's capacity to grow organically and through acquisitions. Late last month, Plains announced the purchase of a terminal from privately held Legion Terminals, and also declared the formation of a 50-50 joint venture with Magellan Midstream Partners to build, own, and operate the 550-mile Saddlehorn Pipeline, which will transport between the Denver-Julesburg Basin and Cushing, Okla. The two companies noted that they already have a handful of binding commitments from major energy players.
Packing a forward P/E of 19 and a dividend yield of nearly 6%, this is a value stock worth keeping a close eye on.
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, and recommends 3D Systems, Lumber Liquidators, and Stratasys. It also recommends Megallan Midstream Partners. 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.