by Aaron Levitt | February 20, 2014 9:42 am
While low share price doesn’t necessarily equate to actual “cheap stocks” when it comes to value, investors can make some serious coin by betting on low-priced stocks. Some very serious coin indeed.
For example, the Royce Low Priced Stock Mutual Fund (RLPHX) has managed to post a 199.3% cumulative total return since its inception in March of 2000. That’s about 150% more than its benchmark index, the small-cap Russell 2000. And RLPHX managed to do so by betting on cheap stocks with low share prices.
For investors willing to delve into the world of cheap stocks based on share price, the rewards can be great. And right now some of the best low-priced jewels can be found in the metals and mining sector.
Many former metals and mining stock high fliers are now selling for below $10 per share as investors have abandoned commodities. Yet the longer term picture is still rosy for these cheap stocks in the metals and mining sector. Here are five of the best cheap stocks in the metals and mining sectors.
Things aren’t getting an easier for the coal sector. The Obama Administration and the EPA have pretty much signed the death certificate for the fossil fuel source. That development has caused many coal firms to fall under the cheap stocks banner.
One of the best cheap stocks could be Alpha Natural Resources (ANR).
Unlike many of its coal stock rivals, ANR isn’t really a producer of thermal- or electricity-generating coal. ANR stock’s bread-and-butter lies within metallurgical or steel making coal. In fact, ANR is the world’s third-largest supplier of the metallurgical coal.
While recent gluts and soft prices in steelmaking coal have impacted the bottom line of ANR stock, prices per ton did manage to rise 2% during the last quarter. More importantly, the rising global economy is set to increase steel production by 3.3%. Europe — ANR’s primary export destination — is set to reverse a steel making decline this year.
All in all, that should help boost profits for ANR stock, making it one of the best cheap stocks out there.
Relatively sluggish economic growth hasn’t been too kind for steel makers either. The slowdown has resulted in plenty of cheap stocks in the sector. And one of the best turnarounds could be AK Steel (AKS).
After several quarters of hard losses, AKS finally managed to turn a profit of $35.2 million, beating analyst expectations by 4 cents per share. The key for the steel stock was lower input costs for the firm. Prices for scrap steel, coking coal, iron ore and natural gas all showed lower averaged prices for the quarter. That helped AKS stock in the earnings department.
AKS stock could build on that momentum.
AKS expects that its iron ore costs will continue to drop as its investment in its Magnetation pellet plant will begin production. That facility will supply AKS with cheap iron ore beginning in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, AKS chief end-users — U.S. automotive firms — have finally begun to ramp up production. That should help AKS sales and ultimately prices for steel.
At just $6.50, AKS is still one of the cheap stocks, but it may not be cheap for long.
Without a doubt, the most hated metals and mining sector has to be gold mining stocks. Faced with rising costs and falling gold prices, many of the precious metals miners have tanked, moving them into the cheap stocks category.
One of the more interesting bets could be mid-tier producer Iamgold (IAG).
IAG operates six different mines and its stock has fallen right along with gold prices. However, the junior producer does have a few aces up its sleeve.
First, it has a relatively low all-in cash cost of production for a junior miner — approximately $1,155 per ounce. The secret to that low cost is that IAG operates one of the world’s three niobium mines. That element is used in everything from high-tension steel to superconducting magnets, and it provides a nice cushion to IAG’s costs. With gold trading flat and slightly upwards, IAG is still profitable at these price levels.
Secondly, IAG holds plenty of reserves in the ground — the kind of reserves that a larger miner would want. Shares of IAG haven’t been this cheap since before the Great Recession. That means a major miner could come calling and snatch up IAG stock before too long.
Like many gold stocks, the silver-focused miners haven’t fared so well either. The next of our cheap stocks, Hecla Mining (HL), could be the best buy here.
Silver, unlike gold, is more of industrial play rather than a store of value. It’s found in a wide range of applications, and many of those applications actually destroy the silver when used. Rising economic activity will ultimately boost demand for the metal in the long run.
Meanwhile, HL has diversified its production at perhaps just the right time, giving it an advantage over other cheap stocks in the sector.
Last year, HL purchased smaller gold producer Aurizon Mines. HL stock now receives about 35% of its revenue from gold. The kicker is that HL was able to buy its gold production for peanuts and has since successfully cut costs at Aurizon’s former operations. Meanwhile, production at the mine has risen.
For HL stock and its $3.61 share price, the diversity of products could make double as silver and gold rise in the longer term.
If the volatility in gold prices is enough to make you queasy, then you should take some Dramamine before looking at the fall in rare earth minerals stocks.
These minerals are used in a variety of high-tech applications — from CFL bulbs to e-readers. And like many commodities, these rare earth metals have plunged on the back of potentially slowing growth. That sent once-market darling Molycorp (MCP) down to cheap stocks island.
Through its vertically integrated 26 locations, MCP is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of custom-engineered rare earth and rare metal products. That puts it in the prime driving seat as demand for these minerals rises in our high-tech world. That advantage is even more pronounced when you consider that China continues to play unfairly with the supply of these minerals.
At the end of the day, MCP stock is a volatile commodity play. However, over the longer term, the MCP could leave the land of cheap stocks and its current $5.40 price point to hit its former highs once again.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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