For many investors, sometimes playing it too safely is the most dangerous strategy. Leaving money in a bank account may seem really safe. However, when one factors in inflation, he will see that is a guarantee to lose money and puts one's retirement in serious question. Moreover, if one is too risky, betting it all on one stock, that can put one's retirement nest-egg in serious jeopardy as well.
I believe a small portion of your portfolio-- 10% or less-- is great for speculative growth companies. These can really juice your returns if they turn out to be successful, but won't destroy your portfolio if they don't pan out. Moreover, every blue-chip company we know of now, such as General Electric (GE), Apple (AAPL), and Google (GOOG) were small growth companies at one point in time. This doesn't mean an investor should just pick a stock at random, and hope it transforms into the next mega cap company. Many of the current enormous companies showed great value throughout their growth history, and here are some names I feel meet that criteria.
Seagate Technology Public Limited Company (STX) designs, manufactures, markets, and sells hard disk drives for enterprise, client compute, and client non-compute market applications worldwide. This space is historically volatile, but STX looks to be turning things around and the valuations are compelling at just a 14x trailing P/E, 4x forward P/E, .3x PEG, .6x P/S and EV/S, and attractive 4.7% dividend yield. I think STX is a quality buy.
Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. (ITUB) provides various commercial, corporate, and investment banking services to individuals, and small and middle-market companies in Brazil and internationally. As you surely know the on-going financial turmoil is still currently going on and ITUB isn’t immune to it, but this stock looks priced right to compensate for the risk. At just a trailing 10x P/E, 9x forward P/E, .9x PEG, relatively fantastic ROA and ROE of 2% and 24% respectively, and gaining comparatively cheap exposure to the still strong Brazilian economy, ITUB makes for a nice holding.
Micron Technology, Inc. (MU), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of semiconductor devices worldwide. The company has fallen on hard times, but it looks as though the expectations have really come down-- making MU a potentially nice turn-around company. Moreover, while the company may be speculative at a trailing 33x P/E, the future looks better at just an 11x forward P/E, along with cheap valuations at a .6x P/B, EV/S and P/S, and relatively cheap 2x EV/EBITDA. I think MU should trade higher in the coming months.
Banco Santander of Spain (STD) is a financial behemoth with over $45 billion in sales. With the ongoing financial worries of the European Union, this stock is getting clobbered. This is speculative as nobody knows for sure what will happen, but the value for the long-term investor as we’re describing here looks nice. Trading at just a .5x PEG, .7x P/B, 7x trailing P/E, 6x forward P/E, and a very nice 12% trailing twelve month dividend yield. I think STD makes for a nice speculative international buy.
Jefferies Group (JEF), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a securities and investment banking company. It has been volatile of late, as some people have questioned the company's exposure to the European crisis. However, management has done an excellent job elucidating this misperception, and even pointing out that they are slightly short European exposure, so this looks to be more noise than substance. Moreover, it has had some massive insider buying as I mentioned here. While I tend to stay away from financials that have had these questions swirl and cause irreparable damage, I'm willing to make an exception here, as not only is Leucadia so well-respected, but it has the financial muscle to easily orchestrate a buyout for the remaining shares. Moreover, the stock trades at a cheap trailing and forward 9x P/E, .6x PEG, 1x P/S, and .9x P/B. I'd buy Jefferies at these levels as a speculative buy.
Yandex N.V. (YNDX) operates an Internet search engine in Russia. Some call this the Google of Russia, since it is the dominant search engine in its country, but it trades at a pricey trailing 35x P/E, forward 22x P/E, and 10x P/S. However, this company does have a clean balance sheet with no debt and close to $1.50/share in net cash, came in with a good earnings report this past month, and has fantastic profit and operating margins of 29% and 35% respectively. I think YNDX is a nice speculative buy.
Baidu (BIDU) provides Chinese and Japanese language Internet search services. The company has been volatile of late, as Chinese stocks have been in general. The valuations are lofty at a trailing 44x P/E, forward 26x P/E, and 20x P/S. However, the company has a good balance sheet with not much debt and approximately $5/share in net cash. Moreover, it trades at a relatively cheap .8x PEG and sports fantastic ROA and ROEs of 27% and 54% respectively. I think splitting a position with YNDX would make sense if looking at this, since they have similar valuations and the play would give you free diversification into two growing world economies.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in STX, STD, JEF over the next 72 hours.