5 Stocks At 52-Week Lows That Will Keep Struggling

by: Ian Bezek

I tend to find a lot of my best investment ideas (along with some real stinkers) from scanning the new 52-week low list. Since last week was a strongly positive week for equities, there were few stocks were making new lows Friday.

The select stocks that did make new lows are thus worthy of scrutiny for bucking the market's positivity. Are they good bounce-back opportunities, or is the market's skepticism warranted? The following five companies appear to be more value traps than rebound opportunities despite their discounted share prices.

Zogenix (NASDAQ:ZGNX) fell 8% Friday following the release of pricing information for its 30 million share equity offering on more than 50x normal trading volume. I must side with the sellers here, as this share offering has been unfortunate for shareholders from start fo finish. Zogenix traded in the $5/share range as recently as early August. By the time the company announced the 12 million share offering, its shares had slumped to ~$3.50. Things proceeded to get worse, as shares continued to slide in subsequent days.

On September 14th, shares dropped more than 10% on news that the share offering was being increased to 30 million shares. By Thursday's close, Zogenix was down to $2.17, after opening the week near $3. And then things got worse, yet on Friday as we finally learned the offering price for all the shares: A measly $2.00, a near 10% discount to Thursday's already-decimated closing level. What conclusions can we draw from this sad situation?

First, Zogenix seems unable to raise capital in any sort of efficient manner. And second, that larger institutional buyers seem less than impressed with the company despite its rapid revenue growth and drug pipeline. Zogenix's future prospects lay largely with the late-stage pain-fighting drug Zohydro. But following the horrifically botched equity raise, it seems the company's shares are unlikely to reverse course in the near future.

YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ:YRCW), even after Friday's incredible 77% drubbing still seems unlikely to bounce. The company recently diluted shareholders by 97%, increasing the share base from 48 million to nearly 2 billion shares. SA Contributor Studioso Research was first to warn readers of this terrible upcoming dilution back in July 19th, back when the stock traded at $1.19/share. Now the results of this jaw-dropping equity dilution have played out and the stock sits at seven cents.

But even at seven cents, further downside seems likely. YRCW still has a market cap of ~$150 million based on the new 1.9 billion share count. Do you really want to pay $150 million for YRC Worldwide's struggling operations? With a reverse split coming in December or January, shares should keep heading south.

Westwood One (NASDAQ:WWON) fell as much as 7% on Friday on no apparent news to mark a new 52-week low for the embattled radio operator. The company's mere survival appeared somewhat in doubt earlier this year, as it struggled to meet debt covenants. However, the company astutely unloaded its traffic division to Clear Channel to lighten its debt load. The company then announced a merger into Dial Global, a radio-oriented subsidiary of the privately-held Triton Media Group.

However, the market has been less than impressed with the merger. Also, it seems that concerns remain that Westwood One may have sold off its best division (traffic) and will struggle to generate much profitability with its remaining assets. At least until the deal with Dial closes in the fourth quarter, it is hard to see Westwood One's shares moving much higher from here; particularly if the economy continues to sag.

Rosetta Stone (NYSE:RST) shares slipped a bit Friday, making a new 52-week low at $11.63 before bouncing a bit into the close. I have long been skeptical of the company's prospects, arguing that it fails to dominate the language-learning industry like bullish analysts claim, that it is a value trap based on current financial metrics, and that its business is caught in a downward cycle.

All that said, I was genuinely impressed with the company's second quarter results. I must give management credit for slowing the decline within its core consumer segment. The stock popped sharply on those upbeat second quarter results, but has resumed falling in recent days with little news.

This is to be expected, as the company still faces a difficult consumer market, intense competition on many fronts, and remains unlikely to be consistently profitable anytime soon (though it should be able to turn a profit in Q4 driven by holiday sales). I expect the stock to keep moving toward my $8 price target in coming months.

Lihua International (NASDAQ:LIWA) printed a new 52-week low of $5.03 in the Friday session before trading up slightly for the day. The company's shares remain a center of heated contention. Bulls argue that based on Lihua's SEC filings, the company appears wildly undervalued. Bears such as myself have great doubts about the accuracy of those SEC filings.

There are many seemingly red flags surrounding the company; these include related party transactions, unusually high margins, an odd lack of CAPEX spending, questions related to the 'independent' China 360 report, and other concerns. For the latest analysis, you can find my bearish case on Seeking Alpha, and the most recent bullish take from here.

Disclosure: I am short LIWA.