This month's purchase recommendation is a mid-cap building supplier that has been plagued by several internal issues as well as worries about a possible ending of the housing cycle and the economic expansion. While the narrative isn’t very appealing, we believe the reality is much brighter.
After a long period of enthusiasm for homebuilders’ stocks during the post-financial crisis recovery, the market has closed the door on this group. A major worry is that the housing cycle may be ending, partly due to recession fears and partly due to rising mortgage interest rates (approaching 5%), increasing home prices and new limits on the deductibility of property taxes that all make affordability a challenge to many potential buyers. Adding to the revenue pressures are higher labor, materials and land costs that combine to threaten homebuilders’ profits. However, unlike the excesses that built up during the 2006-2008 housing crisis, there is little evidence of an impending collapse.
A group that is doubly out-of-favor is the energy exploration and production (E&P) companies that have emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. E&P stocks in general have fallen sharply over concerns that oil and gas prices may once again tumble. Yet in their rush to abandon these stocks, investors are creating some bargains.
In nearly every case, the shares of a company in bankruptcy become worthless. In very rare cases, however, they can become great investments. W.R. Grace (NYSE:GRA) shares produced a 75-fold return, as an example. With California utility PG&E (NYSE:PCG) now in bankruptcy, the range of possible outcomes for its equity is wide.
In reading recent editions of The Turnaround Letter, you have probably noticed that we are increasingly using EV/EBITDA as a valuation measure, rather than the better-known price/earnings multiple. We thought it might be useful to describe this measure and why we like it.
This Forbeswrite-up follows up on the recent Top Stock Tips report--naming The Turnaround Letter's Crocs recommendation the top performer of 2017: With 90% gains, CROX beat out 100 other investment ideas included in the report; and the stock continues to have value investing appeal, according to Putnam.
George notes, "We see additional upside for the stock in 2018 as management's efforts continue to bear fruit, though the gains will likely be more muted than we saw in 2017."