“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Net, traders were placing their bargain stock bets…”
Despite a surfeit of good intentions, many of us are going down to the wire with our holiday shopping and need to pick up a few last-minute stocking stuffers. Sadly, I don’t have an epic addition to Uncle Murray’s Ugly Holiday Sweater collection or the perfect tchotchke for Aunt Marge, who collects alabaster elephants.
But if you need to pick up something for the trader in your life — and you’re a little short on time and cash — here are four stocks under $15 that could keep on giving in 2014:
JetBlue Airways (JBLU)
It takes a tough competitor to roll with the myriad shifts in the airline industry and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) might just have what it takes to fly above the turbulence in 2014.
The airline should get a win from the mega-merger between US Airways (LCC) and American (AAMRQ): The Justice Department required the merged carrier to divest valuable slots and gates — particularly at Washington D.C.’s Reagan National — to low-cost carriers. JBLU has kept its budget airline identity while classing up its image, literally — adding premium class service on some transcontinental routes. And JBLU is continuing to upgrade its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.
The airline industry has long been regarded as a tough place to make money — a capital-intensive, low-margin business that soars or stalls based on consumer confidence and fuel-price fluctuations. But JBLU shares have gained almost 50% and still look cheap with a price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 0.77 and a forward P/E of less than 13. With a market cap of $2.4 billion, JBLU stock is trading around $8.60 now.
Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK)
Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) stock has surged 23% in the past week alone — and the stock looks to sail those fair winds and following seas into the New Year. The shipping industry sailed through several years of choppy seas and fierce headwinds — the global recession combined with a glut of ships drove charter rates down to Davy Jones’ Locker.
But supply and demand are starting to balance out now and the Baltic Dry Index, which measures shipping rates, is at its highest level in three years. SBLK is well-positioned to cash in on these trends because it has been bringing efficient new ships into service — Morgan Stanley initiated coverage on the stock last week with an “overweight” rating.
SBLK stock has a market cap of around $225 million — about in the middle of the shipping sector pack — and it’s trading around $13 right now.
ChinaCache International Holdings (CCIH)
If you’re looking for a tech-focused stocking-stuffer that marries the momentum of mobile Internet with the lure of emerging market opportunity, content delivery network (CDN) supplier ChinaCache International Holdings (CCIH) could fit the bill nicely.
The company is one of two dominant Internet content and application delivery providers in China (the other is China NetCenter) — each company generates about 41% of the total CDN market revenue, according to CCID Consulting. In a market that grew by more than 30% in 2012 to nearly half a billion dollars, CCIH has gained an edge with multinational companies. Earlier this month, Wedge Partners predicted CCIH would benefit from partner China Mobile’s likely launch of 4G mobile services in 2014.
CCIH shares have gained almost than 15% in the past week and are up 170% year-to-date. But beware the small market cap: at just $224 million, the stock is vulnerable to swings in either direction.
OncoSec Medical (ONCS)
Biopharmaceutical stocks in general are bleeding-edge investments, which means they come with tons of risk and should only be handled by investors who can handle a lot of speculation and potential losses. But in the high-stakes battle to cure one of the toughest cancers, ONCS might just be able to spin risk into reward.
The company is developing a promising therapy for advanced stage metastatic melanoma, a form of skin cancer that is deadly and difficult to treat. Melanoma resists traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy because it spreads aggressively and essentially hides in plain sight — new drugs aim to supercharge the body’s own immune system to seek and destroy these cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Last week, ONCS released positive Phase 2 clinical data on its DNA-based ImmunoPulse treatment. More than 61% of patients in the trial experienced a reduction in the size of at least one tumor, and data suggests the treatment may trigger an anti-tumor response throughout the body — not just in the specific location treated. That would be a powerful weapon in the arsenal for treating this disease.
ONCS is up 25% since the trial data was released last week and is up about 120% year to date. While OncoSec faces tough competition from Big Pharma and other biotech firms in the melanoma space, at less than 50 cents per share, it could see huge upside if the treatment takes off. But again, that comes with a huge amount of risk. You’re essentially playing the Mega Millions Jackpot with this stock.
As of this writing, Susan J. Aluise did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.