One of the most attractive investment destinations today is India, and for those who wish to take part in its stellar growth, I provide six stock picks for any portfolio, risky or conservative. These stocks are must-haves, especially after the recent market tumbles which have presented a short term, limited buying opportunity.
Tata Motors Ltd (TTM) is a leading automotive manufacturing company, a bellwether of the Indian auto sector and a company that changed the global automotive scene with its $3,000 car, the Nano. Now developing its next big idea, the Pixel, the large cap, blue chip stock has revenues upwards of $27 billion. The price-earnings multiple is only 5.9 compared to an industry average of 8 times, which is a definite bargain.
The stock is trading at just over $16, near the 52-week low of $14.50, well below the 52-week high of over $37, not in small part helped by the court decision to return to farmers land that was earlier acquired for the production of the Nano. However, the company’s fundamentals are well in place, and there is no lack of market opportunity for this company that sells cars globally. If anything, it’s a great bargain.
Wipro Technologies (WIT) is a major IT outsourcing firm, with a well-known Business Process Outsourcing operation, in addition to lighting and IT products such as desktop computers and servers. Despite strong anti-outsourcing sentiment, the company’s revenues have shown a robust revenue growth of 18% in the last quarter on a year-on-year basis. The stock is trading at $9.62, not unlike many IT stocks that have taken a tumble recently, just above the 52-week low of $8.85.
If the company does go through with its pending sale of Infocrossing, one can expect earnings margins to improve even further. Wipro is currently at an industry-beating margin (net) of 16% compared to the 10% average, as the company's focus on its core operations will increase efficiency. Compared to competitors such as Infosys (INFY), which trades at a price-earnings of 19 times, Wipro is slightly more expensive at 21 times, but the company has grown dividends over the last 5 years at nearly 40% and is not likely to go away any time soon.
Lionbridge Technologies (LIOX) is a relatively small technology firm with a market cap of $143 million, but it’s a leader in language technologies. It operates three key segments -- content, testing and interpretation -- and has been beaten down in the recent past due to net losses, which really mask the true value of the company. The stock is trading at $2.48, and hasn’t exceeded the $5 cutoff by much, but the stock is a solid one.
With target prices pegged at nearly $6 and clients not limited to Apple (AAPL) and Disney (DIS), the market for language translation technology is ripe and growing. Past acquisitions, such as Bowne Global Solutions, are weighing heavily on the stock, and its earnings have bene watered down on account of charges. Operating income saw an excellent growth of over 200% for the last fiscal year, and the stock is poised to return to its lifetime high of around $6.
Infosys (INFY) is one of the biggest technology and outsourcing firms in the business, a blue chip in the Indian market with a solid history of consistently beating Wall Street estimates. The latest quarterly results show an addition of nearly 10,000 employees, which speaks volumes about the strength of the company, considering the economic downturn in the United States, which accounts for about 64% of its revenues for the last reported quarter.
The stock currently trades at $51.75, at a price-earnings multiple of 19, when the industry average is around 31 times. The price-to-sales ratio for INFY is around 4 times, with the industry average is over 60 times. The stock pays a comfortable dividend out of 52% of its earnings, with a yield of 1.29%, just around the industry par. It is also noteworthy that the company has no long-term debt.
ICICI Bank (IBN) practically invented private banking in India. Once the largest, it is now the second-largest, behind HDFC bank (HDB), with a market capitalization of over $21 billion. The company has a solid diversified product base, with a foot in each boat -- insurance, lending and banking -- and market leadership in almost every segment. The stock is currently trading near the 52-week floor of $33.59 and has a long way to go before the 52-week high of $58.22 is reached.
While the recent market depreciations in local stock markets has affected the stock badly, it still maintains a solid 1.7% dividend yield and posted a net profit increase of nearly 30% for the most recent quarter. Unlike many banking firms there, the bulk of its loans are domestic, which insulated it form the subprime meltdown, and continues to uphold neutral ratings from most analysts, despite a not-so-great asset credit quality, which does continue to improve.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.