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Looking to gain exposure to commodities? One way is through basic materials stocks, although it's important to keep in mind that these stocks are also subject to company risks separate from the prices of their underlying commodities.

For a closer look at the basic materials sector, we ran a screen. We began by screening US-traded basic materials stocks for those that appear undervalued relative to earnings growth, with PEG below 1.

We then screened for those with strong profitability compared to industry peers, with higher gross, operating, and pretax margins than their industry averages by at least 5% on each margin. This indicates that these companies are taking a greater percentage of their revenues as profits, and they also have stronger control over their cost structures.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in market cap over the last two years for the stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think these stocks should be trading higher? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by difference between pretax profit margin and industry average.

1. Ensco plc (ESV): Provides offshore contract drilling services to the oil and gas industry. Market cap at $11.32B, most recent closing price at $48.95. PEG at 0.91. TTM gross margin at 48.95% vs. industry average at 34.22%. TTM operating margin at 31.32% vs. industry average at 18.28%.TTM pretax margin at 27.27% vs. industry average at 13.88%.

2. Unit Corp. (UNT): Engages in onshore contract drilling of oil and gas wells (for its own account as well as for other companies), exploration and production of oil and gas, and the gathering and transportation of natural gas primarily in the U. Market cap at $1.92B, most recent closing price at $39.62. PEG at 0.54. TTM gross margin at 51.86% vs. industry average at 34.22%. TTM operating margin at 26.61% vs. industry average at 18.28%.TTM pretax margin at 26.14% vs. industry average at 13.88%.

3. Yongye International, Inc. (YONG): Engages in the research, development, manufacture, and sale of fulvic acid based liquid and powder nutrient compounds for plants and animals, which are used in the agriculture industry in the People's Republic of China. Market cap at $162.23M, most recent closing price at $3.21. PEG at 0.19. TTM gross margin at 59.67% vs. industry average at 37.3%. TTM operating margin at 27.05% vs. industry average at 17.11%.TTM pretax margin at 27.72% vs. industry average at 16.11%.

4. QEP Resources, Inc. (QEP): Operates as an independent natural gas and oil exploration and production company. Market cap at $5.23B, most recent closing price at $29.33. PEG at 0.88. TTM gross margin at 49.17% vs. industry average at 27.1%. TTM operating margin at 13.3% vs. industry average at 8.03%.TTM pretax margin at 17.59% vs. industry average at 12.14%.

*Profitability data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 4 Undervalued Basic Materials Stocks With Strong Profitability