The StressTest column appears every Thursday on Fool.com. Check back weekly, and follow�@TMFStressTest�on Twitter.
Stocks are cheap. No, really. They're very,�very�cheap.
If you ask the right people, you'll hear that stocks are cheap because the equity risk premium has skyrocketed. Just check out this nifty chart from the New York Federal Reserve Bank's Liberty Street Economics blog.
Source: Liberty Street Economics.
"Now, back up a minute," you may be saying. "What is this equity risk premium you speak of?"
I'm glad you asked. The equity risk premium measures the implied additional returns that investors get for investing in stocks as opposed to putting their money in an instrument that delivers the "risk-free rate" -- often assumed to be U.S. Treasuries. If, for example, the�S&P 500's (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) was 15 -- and, therefore, the earnings yield was 6.7% -- and the risk-free rate was 3%, then we could say that the equity risk premium was 3.7%. (That's not the primary or only way to calculate the equity risk premium; I just used it for ease of illustration.)
Hot Cheap Companies To Watch In Right Now: MetroPCS Communications Inc.(PCS)
MetroPCS Communications, Inc., a wireless telecommunications carrier, together with its subsidiaries, provides wireless broadband mobile services in the United States. Its services include voice services, such as local, domestic long distance, and international call services; and data services, including domestic and international text messaging, multimedia messaging, mobile Internet access, mobile instant messaging, location based services, social networking services, push e-mail, and multimedia streaming and downloads, as well as services provided through the binary runtime environment for wireless (BREW), Blackberry, Windows, and the Android platforms, including ringtones, ring back tones, games, and content applications. The company also offers custom calling features consisting of caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, and voicemail services. In addition, it sells mobile handsets. The company offers its products and services under the MetroPCS brand name, directl y through the company-operated retail stores and indirectly through independent retail outlets, as well as through Internet. As of December 31, 2010, it served approximately 8.1 million subscribers, as well as operated 159 retail stores primarily in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando/Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Tampa/Sarasota. The company is headquartered in Richardson, Texas.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Larry Gellar]
Although this company is known in some circles for its poor phone service, PCS stock has seen some serious gains in the past 12 months. In fact, look for this trend to continue when earnings are announced on August 2. Much smaller than AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), MetroPCS best compares with Sprint Nextel (S). With an operating margin of 16.79 compared with Sprint Nextel’s 0.15%, it’s clear that MetroPCS is better suited for future growth. Gross margin and PEG are also favorable for MetroPCS, currently 42.69% and 1.36 respectively. For another great Seeking Alpha article on cell phone companies, consider reading this. Perhaps the most important point raised is that Sprint Nextel’s purchases of Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile pose a serious threat to MetroPCS. These companies will fight MetroPCS for the low-end cell phone market and may come out on top due to incr easing problems with MetroPCS’s call quality. Essentially, MetroPCS’s problem is that although it offers unlimited talk, text, and web, these features don’t actually work very well. The future success of this company is highly dependent on an improvement in quality as existing customers continue to get fed up. Luckily for MetroPCS, Sprint seems to be having a setback with its 4G service.
Hot Cheap Companies To Watch In Right Now: Ford Motor Credit Company(F)
Ford Motor Company primarily develops, manufactures, distributes, and services vehicles and parts worldwide. It operates in two sectors, Automotive and Financial Services. The Automotive sector offers vehicles primarily under the Ford and Lincoln brand names. This sector markets cars, trucks, and parts through retail dealers in North America, and through distributors and dealers outside of North America. It also sells cars and trucks to dealers for sale to fleet customers, including daily rental car companies, commercial fleet customers, leasing companies, and governments. In addition, this sector provides retail customers with a range of after-sale vehicle services and products in the areas, such as maintenance and light repair, heavy repair, collision repair, vehicle accessories, and extended service contracts under the Ford Service, Lincoln Service, Ford Custom Accessories, Ford Extended Service Plan, and Motorcraft brand names. The Financial Services sector offers vari ous automotive financing products to and through automotive dealers. It offers retail financing, which includes retail installment contracts for new and used vehicles; direct financing leases; wholesale financing products that comprise loans to dealers to finance the purchase of vehicle inventory; loans to dealers to finance working capital, purchase real estate dealership, and/or make improvements to dealership facilities; and other financing products, as well as provides insurance services. Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 and is based in Dearborn, Michigan.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By David Sterman]
This automaker has executed a remarkable turnaround. After flirting with bankruptcy a few years ago, major cost cuts — coupled with an outstanding lineup of new vehicles — has put Ford back on the road to health.
Shares rose nearly 1,000% from 2008 to early 2011 but have since pulled back by a considerable amount. For long-term investors, the pullback is a great entry point, as Ford’s best days still lie ahead.
The company is earning around $2 a share every year even as the auto industry posts sales levels well below prior peaks. Industry analysts expect auto and truck sales to rise higher in the next few years, which should help Ford to generate even stronger profits.
Top Value Companies To Watch In Right Now: Emerson Electric Company(EMR)
Emerson Electric Co. operates as a diversified manufacturing and technology company. The company engages in appliance solutions, climate technologies, industrial automation, motor technology, network power, process management, professional tools, and storage solutions businesses. Its appliance solutions business provides appliance controls, appliance motors, heating products, and white-rodgers; climate technology business provides heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) solutions for residential, industrial, and commercial applications; and industrial automation business offers bearings and power transmission products, electrical power generation products, electric motors, variable speed drives and servos, electrical products, material joining solutions, fluid automation products, and wind turbine systems. The company?s motor technology business provides appliance motors, HVACR motors, DC motors, fractional horsepower motors, integral horsepower a nd larger motors, and drives; network power business provides power, precision cooling, connectivity, and embedded solutions; and process management business provides various wireless related products from self-organizing field networks to wireless asset and people tracking. Its professional tools business offers pipe working and threading equipment, pressing technology, utility locating and visual diagnostics systems, drain maintenance tools, power tools, air tools, general purpose hand tools, wet/dry vacs, job site storage equipment, truck tool boxes and equipment, and van storage equipment; and storage solutions business provides shelving and storage products for residential, commercial, and foodservice needs, as well as offers specialized carts, mobile computer workstations, and cabinet fixtures. The company was founded in 1890 and is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Larry Gellar]
Similar to Archer Daniels Midland above, Emerson Electric saw 52-week highs in February but has been down since to a current price of below $50. From a valuation perspective, Emerson is quite attractive – notably P/E and PEG are 15.55 and 0.99 respectively. This is lower than competitors like ABB (ABB) and Hitachi (HIT), and Emerson’s margins are also better than those companies. Specifically, Emerson currently has a gross margin of 39.58% and an operating margin of 17.04%. Aside from the companies listed above, this also beats out General Electric (GE), which has 36.79% and 11.15% for those same numbers respectively. On the other hand, there are also some concerns to be had with EMR. Total cash flow for the past 3 quarters has been a whopping negative $1.8 billion. Shareholders have also been wary of the company’s willingness to take on additional debt. Upcoming earnings for EMR have already been guided downward, and it seems likely that the stock price will fall once the actual results are posted. The wisest thing may be to wait for the stock to bottom out after earnings and then buy it before it creeps back upward. Some investors may find EMR attractive for its dividends; yield is currently at 2.8%.
Hot Cheap Companies To Watch In Right Now: Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc.(FCX)
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. engages in the exploration, mining, and production of mineral resources. The company primarily explores for copper, gold, molybdenum, silver, and cobalt. It holds interests in various properties, located in North and South America; the Grasberg minerals district in Indonesia; and the Tenke Fungurume minerals district in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As of December 31, 2010, the company?s consolidated recoverable proven and probable reserves totaled 120.5 billion pounds of copper, 35.5 million ounces of gold, 3.39 billion pounds of molybdenum, 325.0 million ounces of silver, and 0.75 billion pounds of cobalt. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Roberto Pedone]
One integrated mining player that insiders are buying up a huge amount of stock in here is Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), which deals in the mining of copper, gold and molybdenum. Insiders are buying this stock into weakness, since shares are off by 17.5% so far in 2013.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold has a market cap of $27.5 billion and an enterprise value of $50.2 billion. This stock trades at a cheap valuation, with a trailing price-to-earnings of 9.95 and a forward price-to-earnings of 8.92. Its estimated growth rate for this year is -23.9%, and for next year it's pegged at 27.8%. This is not a cash-rich company, since the total cash position on its balance sheet is $3.29 billion and its total debt is $21.22 billion. This stock currently sports a dividend yield of 4.3%.
A director just bought 517,350 shares, or about $14.82 million worth of stock, at $28.64 per share.
From a technical perspective, FCX is currently trending below both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bearish. This stock has been downtrending over the last five month, with shares dropping from its high of $33 to its recent low of $26.07 a share. Shares of FCX recently formed a double bottom chart pattern at $26.04 to $26.07 a share. Following that bottom, this stock has trended higher to $30.14 a share, but it just failed to hold above its 50-day at $28.60 a share.
If you're bullish on FCX, then I would look for long-biased trades as long as this stock is trending above some near-term support levels at $27 to $26 and then once it takes out its 50-day at $28.60 a share with high volume. Look for a sustained move or close above its 50-day with volume that hits near or above its three-month average action of 17.31 million shares. If we get that move soon, then FCX will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $30.14 to $32 a share.