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The shopping season is overwhelming and I am not talking about Christmas gifts. The selling of already depressed small cap stocks for tax reasons can be the source of real bargains. Their analysis is taking a lot of research so postings are going to be sparse over the next weeks. Besides, I am also desperately in need of vacation (yes!).

To compensate, the next weeks will be about sharing interesting leads. These are in no way recommendations and I do not own most of them. On the same token, I will gladly hear from readers their potentials flaws. I will start with beaten down financials. These are companies very difficult to analyze, however, complexity is a positive in my deep value investing toolkit when there is downside protection and the price is right.

Citizens Republic Bancorp (NASDAQ:CRBC): a bank with conservative underwriting, NPAs have been stabilizing and are still less than 6%, a substantial portion of it is reserved, management is also confident that they are more than halfway through the snake. They have a solid deposit base and leadership position in Michigan and it trades at less than 0.4 tangible book and 3x pre-tax pre-credit earnings. I know, I know, it is Michigan. However, for the same reason the competition was decimated and, believe it or not, their deposits are growing double digits.

The South Financial Group (TSFG): If you did not like the previous bank idea, do not even look at this one. The company was decimated with the recent downgrades of regional banks. They had their share of problems in Florida, but after a recent capital injection their NPA is only 4.4% with 70% of them reserved. There are still some mortgage and CRE problems in the Carolinas, but they look more than halfway through and it is just too cheap to ignore: less than 0.3 tangible book and less than 2x pre-tax pre-credit provisions

Maguire Properties (NYSE:MPG): Are you crazy, Plan? Commercial real estate, more than 4 billion of debt, negative equity, and priced for bankruptcy? Yes, but. Check the structure of the debt, most of it is non recourse secured by individual properties so they can unload the problematic Orange County properties until they end up with a profitable core. Go to their site and check their buildings in downtown LA: US Bank Tower, The Gas Company Tower, Wells Fargo Center, KMPG Center. Most of them 95%+ leased to AAA tenants and you are buying their equity at less than $70 million. And they have several profitable parking lots. If I ever had a variant perception, it's this business. Not for the faint of heart.

Kingsway Financial Services (NYSE:KFS): Everything was going great with this insurance turnaround: change of leadership, cost reductions, asset disposals, improving underwriting, stock and debt buybacks and then … all hell broke loose. The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance is challenging in court their disposal of Lincoln Insurance through charity gifts. The issue with a potential reversal of this transaction is not so much Lincoln, which had been written off and its liabilities limited. It is more a potential cross default covenant affecting other subsidiaries. At less than 0.2x conservative tangible book value, a turnaround that is/was in full swing, and a legal process that will take time, my bet is that the price already discounts most of the risk. So if I manage to find some margin of safety in the debt structure, I might buy some.

I will repeat again: these are not recommendations. I have no position in any of this stocks but I might buy some of them over the next week. Do your due diligence.

Author's disclosure: No position.

Source: Deep Value Shopping Season: Part I