by Jeff Reeves | April 16, 2012 4:12 am
The Dow just tallied its worst week of the year. Global economic fears including a cooling china economy and sovereign debt woes in Europe have weighed on international markets. Trouble in housing and unemployment persist, and rising gasoline prices threaten to squash consumer spending.
In short, there’s a lot of short-term trouble weighing on the market.
But should you panic? If you’re a swing trader, maybe. There’s no doubt that after the disastrous summer of 2011, many investors are convinced that now is the time to get out while the getting is good.
But if you’re a buy-and-hold investor, you might want to consider taking the other side of the trade right now. There are a few stocks in particular that could wind up being big bargains if you pounce on a pullback.
I have been a big believer in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) across 2012, as have a lot of investors. The reasons are obvious — a huge stockpile of $30 billion in cash and short-term investments and another $67 billion in long-term investments, its dominant iPhone and iPad gadgets, and now a $2.65 dividend yield and a massive $10 billion buyback plan.
While you might not think of Apple as a bargain after it has soared 80% in the past 12 months, the fact remains that this is a great stock that has been punished as of late. That means it’s your opportunity to pounce.
Specifically, Apple is off about 7% from its 52-week high of $644, set just a few weeks ago. If the worst this stock does is get back to its previous high and pay you a nice quarterly dividend starting July 1 … well, let’s just say the market is going to have quite a year if that turns out to be a “bad” investment.
I recently touted Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NYSE:GT) as one of my “editor’s picks” for April. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I put my money where my mouth is on this trade and just bought 300 shares of GT last week. The trade seemed just too good to pass up.
Admittedly, Goodyear has been restructuring for ages. In fact, it just recorded another $23 million in restructuring charges for its fiscal fourth quarter. But after bleeding cash during the recession because of the slowdown in auto sales and supplier contracts, Goodyear returned to profitability last year. What’s more, it’s forecasting significant growth in 2012 — with earnings per share of $1.85, which would be a nearly 50% surge over fiscal 2011! The first report of the year comes out on April 27, so you might want to consider buying on a dip before that date. After all, revenue already is back above 2008 levels after a 20% expansion last year – even though Goodyear’s share price is almost a third of where it was four years ago.
Yes, Goodyear is down 15% year-to-date and has sat out the rally. But despite significant improvement in its fundamentals, GT stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of less than 7 based on fiscal 2012 forecasts. If all GT does is revisit its 52-week high, you’ll be sitting on a nearly 70% gain — so have faith in this turnaround story over the next year or two.
Dovetailing with the Goodyear pick, Ford (NYSE:F) is seeing a resurgence in its fundamentals thanks to strong auto sales — even if share prices are off over 20% in the last year. Strong growth in the automotive sector is starting to show up big-time in the data, so there are reasons for optimism going forward. Consider that in 2012, auto exports and auto imports soared at the beginning of the year – proving China’s booming vehicle market and recovering demand in North America are providing great opportunities for investors.
Also, consider this: In 2008, Ford’s market capitalization was $5.5 billion. Today, it is hovering over $45 billion. Shares actually are double where they were before Lehman went under.
Strangely enough, the past five years have been very good for Ford. Former Boeing (NYSE:BA) executive Alan Mulally started retooling the company just in time for the financial crisis, and Ford was the only one of the Big Three that avoided bankruptcy restructuring. Mulally worked with the unions to cut costs and improve productivity, and the company worked hard to renew appeal in its cars. Now Ford is fuel-efficient, consumer-friendly and making strides in emerging markets.
After losing $14.8 billion in 2008, the company came all the way back, capping the run with a $20 billion profit in 2011, and recently a reinstatement of a dividend — the first since 2006.
Despite this turnaround, however, Ford stock has a trailing P/E of 2.41 and a forward P/E of just 6.99. Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) are trading for ratios above 10 — so even if all Ford does is find itself a valuation of 10, you’ll have a 22% gain on your hands.
Let’s admit it: Nobody likes airline stocks, even consumer favorite Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV). The industry is highly regulated, and the impact of creeping crude oil prices on jet fuel costs and other issues make this industry a difficult one to succeed in. The fact that American Airlines parent AMR Corp. (PINK:AAMRQ) just declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy — the latest in a long line of traditional “hub-and-spoke” carriers that went belly-up in the last decade — is all the proof you need.
But don’t count out Southwest. It regularly ranks well above its peers in customer satisfaction and, more importantly, profitability.
Consider, though, that fiscal 2009 earnings were just 13 cents a share on $10.3 billion in revenue — and fiscal 2011 earnings were 23 cents a share on $15.6 billion in revenue. Looking ahead, 2012 earnings could tally over 67 cents a share on $17.5 billion in revenue!
A significant quarterly loss in its fiscal third quarter really weighed on Southwest. The result was a harsh sell-off of around 35% that sent LUV stock to the $8 range in late 2011 — levels not seen since late 2009. The stock hasn’t recovered since.
Of course, you have to bank on fuel prices not getting significantly higher or consumer spending getting considerably weaker over the next several months. But hey, nobody said buying a bottom was easy.
On Jan. 25, I wrote a column for MarketWatch declaring that Corning (NYSE:GLW) was a great bargain after a post-earnings selloff. If you bought on that dip, you would have seen about 15% profits in two months.
Of course, that was before the recent trouble. Corning has slid about 6% in just a matter of weeks. But after further analysis, I remain convinced that Corning remains a great investment.
Yes, price declines for LCD displays caused a significant drop in 2011 profits and ate into Corning’s 2012 outlook. Also, Corning previously warned that its fiscal first-quarter earnings could fall anywhere from 5% to 20% based on low prices and weaker demand. That could be a real pain for shareholders if the worst-case scenario plays out.
However, long-term investors should look past this recent trouble and to the future. Corning has a revamped Gorilla Glass 2.0 just unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year, and the booming tablet and smartphone market means there’s a good chance sales will pick back up for GLW.
Its LCD panel business, while weak, also is a good long-term play and represents 40% of 2011 sales. Let’s not be naïve and think that the world will revert to those old tube-based TVs and computer monitors anytime soon, even if consumer spending isn’t all its cracked up to be.
Another high-tech angle is Corning’s fiber optic cable business for telecom use, representing more than 25% of 2011 sales.
And if you calculate valuation based on full-year 2012 earnings of $1.60, you get an attractive P/E of less than 9 at current pricing. This is after revenue has increased 23% from fiscal 2009 to 2010, then another 19% from 2010 to 2011. Profits admittedly have not kept pace, but the top line is there.
Worst-case scenario: Shares drift sideways and deliver a 2.2% dividend yield. But Corning is hardly a dog with fleas with no upside potential. All it needs is a little more consumer spending or a few juicy supplier contracts to turn things around.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com, and author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Buying Great Stocks.” Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.
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