3 Small-Cap Buys for January

by Louis Navellier | January 9, 2012 1:45 pm

First up this month, I have CVD Equipment (NASDAQ:CVV[1]), a manufacturer of the gear behind tomorrow’s futuristic nanotechnologies, including solar cells, electronic components, carbon nanotubes, LEDS and smart material coatings.

But what really has the company in investor headlines lately is its involvement with graphene, the thinnest and toughest material ever produced. Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon. Academics have recently figured out how to manipulate the way the material conducts electricity, a breakthrough that opens the door to its use in computers, since graphene conducts electricity 30 times faster than silicon — approaching the speed of light!

Graphene is an extraordinary material — in 2010, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their groundbreaking experiments with it, and there are a lot of companies, universities and industries researching it. It’s too soon to tell which of these players will be the big winner, so I want to go straight to the source and invest in the equipment that all of these players need for their research.

With the excitement about graphene and its possible uses, it’s no surprise that CVD’s order backlog has soared this year, climbing 141% in the third quarter. Sales in the third quarter rose 119.3%, to $8.8 million, compared with $4 million year-on-year. During the same period, CVD Equipment’s earnings surged 566.7%, to $1.2 million — $0.20 per share. The analyst community was expecting earnings of $0.11 per share, so the company posted a whopping 81.8% earnings surprise.

For the fourth quarter, the analyst community is expecting 66.7% annual sales growth and 87.5% earnings growth. In the past three months, analysts have revised their consensus earnings estimate 30.6% higher. Of course, such positive analyst earnings revisions usually precede tremendous future earnings surprises.

Mitcham Industries (NASDAQ:MIND[2]) is a high-tech provider of seismic equipment to the energy industry, enabling the next generation of oil-and-gas exploration.

Oil companies are increasingly finding it difficult to extract gas from traditional deposits and are being forced to look at alternative sources and methods of extraction. With viable alternative energy sources still a ways off, Mitcham’s products are going to become integral to the maintenance of our energy status quo.

The company leases seismic equipment to energy companies that allows them to get a picture of what’s happening below ground. Mitcham also manufactures and sells seismic gear under the well-known Seamap brand name.

Mitcham’s manufacturing-and-leasing business model provides superior margins compared with other segments of the seismic industry. In the third quarter, sales rose 40%, to $28 million, compared with $20 million in the same quarter a year ago. During the same period, earnings soared 642.9%, to $6.8 million, or $0.52 per share. The analyst community was expecting earnings of $0.22 per share, so the company posted a whopping 136.4% earnings surprise.

In the third quarter, Mitcham says, there was strong demand from Latin America and companies tapping the gas-holding shale formations of the U.S. Looking forward, Mitcham predicts strong results in Russia and Canada this winter. In addition, the company says it’s encouraged by the number of inquiries and orders for long-term work. For the fourth quarter, the analyst community is expecting 47.8% annual sales growth and 135.9% earnings growth.

Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE:PAA[3]) is cashing in big time on the transportation and storage of crude oil, refined products and natural gas in the U.S. and Canada. And in December, the company announced five asset-rich strategic acquisitions totaling $2.3 billion.

Its blockbuster deal was snapping up British Petroleum’s (NYSE:BP[4]) natural-gas liquids business in Canada for $1.67 billion in cash, which will expand Plains All American’s Canadian footprint and provide the capacity to increase its U.S. operations. The location of the BP pipelines and plants allows for processing of gas from new U.S. formations, including the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania. In total, the acquisition includes about 2,500 miles of pipelines, 21 million barrels of LNG capacity and seven gas-processing plants. The deal is expected to close in the first half of this year.

The company also announced four “bolt-on” acquisitions for about $620 million, including a South Texas crude-oil and condensate-gathering system, a Canadian trucking operation, a multiple-product storage facility in Yorktown, Va., and a pipeline in the Permian Basin.

Plains All American has an extremely attractive 5.4% dividend, and as a Master Limited Partnership, it can allow for pass-through income, eliminating the “double taxation” that is generally applied to corporations. Looking forward to the fourth quarter, the analyst community is expecting annual sales growth of 38.3% and earnings growth of 59.3%. In the past three months, the analyst community has revised its consensus earnings estimate 20.6% higher.

Endnotes:
  1. CVV: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=CVV
  2. MIND: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=MIND
  3. PAA: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=PAA
  4. BP: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=BP

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