It is amazing to be able to write an article about stocks trading around a forward Price-Earnings ratio of 5. Honestly, why would investors be willing to part with a company earning enough money to pay investors back in 5 years? Bonds and Treasuries can't come close to matching that, especially with interest rates at historical lows. These corporate earnings should be ever more valuable.
What is ultimately amazing is that these stocks aren't comeback stories or rebound stocks. These companies aren't forecasting massive growth that might not be achievable in 2012. For the most part, earnings have been stable and predictable for the last few quarters if not the last couple of years.
Why then is the market ignoring the earnings bounty provided by these stocks at current prices? Honestly, that question is perplexing. All four stocks had strong earnings in Q3 (outside a catastrophe loss at one firm) when markets faced huge financial turmoil. If earnings held up then, why would one consider future earnings at risk?
These stocks sum up the massive fear in the markets now. Investors appear more dreary regarding stocks than consumers are about shopping.
Aercap Holdings (NYSE:AER) - Despite hardly missing a beat in the financial crisis, this airplane leaser continues to trade with a 5 forward PE. AER continues to report earnings in the $2 range even though the stock is stuck around $10. Demand for leasing airplanes continues to grow as developing airlines lack the funding for new planes and developed airlines lack the balance sheet to replace aging fleets. This leaves companies like AER in the perfect position to provide new planes on long leases. Very profitable for the company, but not so much for shareholders.
Note how AMR Corp (AMR) filed for bankruptcy, but all the news articles suggest that it will go forward with the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 orders some of which will be leased from AER. Perfect example of the business model at work.
C&J Energy Services (NYSE:CJES) - The energy services company IPO'd in July and has gone on to smash earnings in both public reports. In Q3, CJES reported profits of $.89 versus analyst estimates of $.78. The numbers were over 200% higher than last year. One has to wonder why investors were originally excited about social media IPOs for Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Angie's List (NASDAQ:ANGI) with no profits while CJES keeps raking in the cash. Unfortunately this stock would need a 50% gain from sub $20 to reach the IPO price of $29. With 2012 estimates of $4.25 and more realistic numbers approaching $4.6, CJES remains ultimately cheap. At some point the market will become excited about this hydraulic facturing expert.
Hartford Financial (NYSE:HIG) - This company is a leading insurance stock trading at a PE of 5 and at 33% of book value. While it has been hit the last couple of quarters by numerous catastrophes, the company still expects to make $2 this year and $3.5 next year. So even though earnings have been inconsistent, the company still remains consistently profitable. An investor shouldn't be so concerned by lumpy results as long as the book value continues growing. At some point this stock will trade more in the 10x earnings and/or 100%+ of book value range.
Lincoln Financial (NYSE:LNC) - Another insurance company more focused on life insurance and retirement products. Unlike HIG, this company continues to exceed earnings while trading at only a 5 forward PE and 37% of book value. Again solid earnings just aren't attracting investors. Maybe LNC is seen as a financial and the market just isn't going to trust its results for a long time. That's fine as investors will continue to watch the book value increase.
All four of these stock provide uncommon valuations. Solid earnings combined with low valuations. One only has to look as far as a Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) as an example to see a slow earnings grower trading at a forward PE of 13. Doesn't take much imagination to conjurer up these stocks trading with a similar multiple once the market catches on. In fact, a normal market would ultimately place higher multiples on these stocks.
Disclosure: I am long AER, CJES, HIG, LNC, CPB.
Additional disclosure: All numbers sourced from Yahoo! Finance. Please consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions based on this article.