The market was down in early trading today with the wall of worry being built up by political and economic concerns in the eurozone. The S&P 500 is down 4% from its 2012 highs. The Nasdaq and Dow are both solidly in the red. I like to focus in on stocks that are up on big down days to identify potential buying opportunities.
The five stocks in this article caught my attention by displaying strong relative performance today. These stocks are the top performing large caps in the S&P 500 today. This can often be a sign these specific stocks are poised to move higher. On down days, I identify the stocks in the green and take a closer look to see if there is good reason for the strength in the stock. I will perform a brief review of the fundamental and technical state of each company. Additionally, we will discern if any upside potential exists based on sector, industry or company specific catalyst. The following table depicts summary and performance statistics for the stocks for Monday.
SunTrust Banks, Inc. (STI)
STI is up almost 4% today. The stock is trading down 18% from its 52 week high and approximately 5% from its recent high. The company has many fundamental positives. STI has a forward P/E ratio of 8.53 and an EPS growth rate of 49.72% for next year. STI has a price to book ratio of 0.60. The stock has pulled back to its 50 day SMA.
The company is moving higher due to its Q1 earnings beat. Q1 EPS of $0.46 beat the Street's estimates by $0.12. Revenue of $2.22 billion was up 2.7% year-over-year and in-line with estimates. Net interest margin increased three basis points from Q4 to 3.49%. Average loans were up 3% quarter-over-quarter. The annualized net charge-off ratio declined 19 basis points quarter over quarter to 1.38%. In February Compass Point upgraded the company from Neutral to Buy and raised its price target to $31 provide a nearly 30% upside for the stock from current levels. Even so, I would wait for a slight pullback as some of the short timers take profits and move on.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK)
CHK is up a little over 3% today. The stock is trading down 49% from its 52 week high and approximately 30% from its recent high. The company has many fundamental positives. CHK has a forward P/E ratio of 6.18 and an EPS growth rate of 82% for next year. CHK has a price to book ratio of 0.69. The stock has pulled back to 2009 lows.
The company is moving higher due to some seeing it as a buying opportunity after getting severely beaten down by another round of shenanigans by the CEO Aubrey McClendon. A Chesapeake Energy shareholder filed a lawsuit against McClendon in the wake of a disclosure that McClendon took out loans against his stake in the company. Nonetheless, after disclosure of the CEO's loan practices, Chesapeake's Board of Directors responded by stating:
Mr. McClendon's interests and Chesapeake's are completely aligned. The suggestion of any conflicts of interest is unfounded. The board is fully aware of the existence of Mr. McClendon's financing transactions and the fact that these occur is disclosed in the proxy.
We will see how this all turns out. I am going to sit this one out and watch the fireworks from the sidelines. The stock is deeply undervalued fundamentally but there are too many unknowns for me to get involved.
Devon Energy Corporation (DVN)
DVN is up a little over 1% today. The stock is trading down 27% from its 52 week high and approximately 14% from its recent high. The company has many fundamental positives. DVN has a forward P/E ratio of 9.61 and an EPS growth rate of 15% for next year. DVN has a price to book ratio of 1.23. The stock has pulled back to just below its 200 day SMA.
There is no significant news out that would account for Monday's strength. Although, according to a recent Barron's article, "Pessimism is too high and the share price is too low for Devon. Devon's sound strategy, strong balance sheet and shrewd joint ventures should pay off." Analysts have an average target price for the stock is $92, an approximately 40% premium from their recent level. I think this is ideal level to start a position in the stock.
Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI)
BHI is up almost 2% today. The stock is trading down 49% from its 52 week high and approximately 10% from its recent high. The company has many fundamental positives. BHI has a forward P/E ratio of 8.54 and an EPS growth rate of 15% for next year. BHI has a price to book ratio of 1.12. The stock is trading 23% below its 200 day SMA.
There is no significant news out that would account for Monday's strength. Baker announced earlier in the month its rig count for March was up 6.7% year over year to 3,663 rigs, although it saw the tally of international (onshore and offshore) and U.S. rigs fall lower compared to February. Moreover, recent reports from competitors Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) were positive. This could be the catalyst for the move. Baker had disappointing earnings and was somewhat over sold. I am bullish on the sector. Halliburton is actually my pick, although Baker looks promising here.
MetLife, Inc. (MET)
MET is up almost 2% today. The stock is trading down 23% from its 52 week high and approximately 9% from its recent high. The company has many fundamental positives. MET has a forward P/E ratio of 6.25 and an EPS growth rate of 10% for next year. MET has a price to book ratio of .62. The stock is trading just above its 200 day SMA.
One reason for the upside may be because MetLife released a preliminary version of its Q1 results after inadvertently posting some of the data on its website ahead of schedule. MET expects to report Q1 operating earnings of $1.37/share, above estimates of $1.25. The company plans to report full results next Thursday.
Additionally, MetLife settled an outstanding lawsuit today, according to a Reuters report. MetLife will pay nearly $500 million to settle a multi-state investigation into unpaid claims for dead policy holders, state regulators and the company said on Monday. The resolution of this litigation risk could be seen as a positive for the stock. I like Metlife here.
Down days are good for identifying prospective investing opportunities. It makes it slightly easier to find the needles in the haystack as it were. Four of the five stocks appear to be up for good reason and merit further due diligence. I would wait for more information on the Chesapeake situation prior to opening a position. There are too many other more profitable plays to be made at this time.
Use this information as a starting point for your own due diligence and research methods before determining whether or not to buy or sell a security. If you choose to start a position in any stock, I suggest layering in a quarter at a time on a weekly basis to reduce risk and setting a 5% trailing stop loss order to minimize losses.