7 Super Speculative Stocks to Watch

by: NakedValue

Some of the best and worst stock market opportunities are hidden amongst discarded, unwanted and generally unknown stocks. These companies are often in this position because of poor operational outlook, difficult competitive situation or untenable financial dynamics.

Below is a list of highly speculative companies that investors should take a closer look at. While the names either have cheap valuations or tremendous growth opportunities, they also have potentially fatal risks. After considering the risks and rewards, investors should decide for themselves if the stocks are cash or trash.

Harbin Electric, Inc (NASDAQ:HRBN) - A manufacturer of motors and other electronics. The company is one of the most talked about China-based stocks in the market, unfortunately the headlines have not always been positive. The company is headquartered in Harbin, China and like many other U.S.-listed Chinese companies, it faces accusations of fraud from some parties.

Revenues at Harbin have grown rapidly. Between 2008 and 2010, sales jumped from $120.82 million to $426.48 million. But the trend seems to have slowed. In the quarter ending March 31, 2011, revenues were $103.83 million, a 1.57% decrease from the year ago quarter.

On June 20, the company spiked more than 59% following disclosure of a $24 per share buyout offer by firms owned by Chairman and CEO Tianfu Yang. The current price is $14.95. This represents a substantial discount from the buyout price, but investors should be very careful. Like all special situation stocks, investors should be comfortable enough to hold the stock even if the proposed buyout does not occur.

K-V Pharmaceutical Company (KV) - A U.S.-based specialty drug company. The company presents an interesting, special situation investment opportunity after disclosing its intention to sell its generic drug operation, Nesher Pharmaceuticals to Zydus Pharmaceuticals for $60 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of K-V's 2012 fiscal year.

The company's revenues have increased modestly and its drug Makena could meaningfully increase revenues. Of course, Makena is not going to be a cheap treatment and as such, the ultimate pricing will determine the true market size, but as companies like Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN) have demonstrated, there is a willingness by Medicare and other insurance entities to cover expensive procedures and medication.

Investors should be careful. The company is losing money and is still facing pressure from previous adverse FDA actions against it. Also, the company is largely held by control shareholders. As such, passive minority shareholders may be subjected to corporate decisions that are not in their best interest.

Sequans Communications (NYSE:SQNS) - The French company is a global manufacturer and distributor of broadband technologies. It recently went public through a U.S. IPO. The stock has enjoyed a great deal of success because of its status as a pure 4G stock play. The stock closed at $8.35 on April 19, 2011 and currently trades at $12.78 even though it is off from early June highs. Recent stock price weakness could be an opportunity as the stock potentially benefits from massive secular growth opportunities as smart phones transition to 4G and as smart phone adoption rates increase in India and China.

The company is rich based on trailing performance. The stock has a $350 million market capitalization and 2010 revenues were $68.54 million. This was a sharp jump from 2009 revenues of $19.56 million, but gross margins have declined in recent years with growing revenues. Also, Sequans has significant risks attributed to customer concentration. In 2010, its top ten customers accounted for 91% of revenues. Of this amount, HTC accounted for 66%. This has been a great relationship because of HTC's early aggressiveness developing 4G phones, but as other phone makers follow suit, this will jeopardize HTC's position as well as that of suppliers like Sequans. The secular growth opportunity is tremendous, but investors should pay close attention to Sequans' customer relationships.

The recent IPO did include a fair amount of shares from insiders, but even after the offering, insiders will still have a significant stake in the company and a significant interest in the company's continued success. After the offering, the company officers and directors will beneficially own 34.6% of the shares outstanding. Notable shareholders include: Add Partners, I-Source Gestion, Kennet Partners, Dr Georges Karam and Motorola Solutions.

Beacon Power Corporation (BCON) - The Massachusetts-based company develops energy storage systems. The company's flywheel-based systems should benefit from the continued adoption of intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar energy. Energy storage is important for these technologies because wind and solar energy generation are just inherently less consistent than demand. Wind is unpredictable even in the windiest areas and the sun only shines for a portion of the day. The company also has revenue opportunities in energy storage for U.S. defense purposes. Among other things, the company has a research and development contract in place with the U.S. Navy.

The company is very interesting and it's revenues are expected to grow. In 2011, its 20MW Stephentown facility will be fully operational. In addition, the company has additional sites which could come on line in the next few years. But its secular opportunities are still risky. Beacon faces stiff competition from both traditional fossil fuel-based technologies as well as advanced battery technologies.

The company has a forward P/E of 6.74 and a price/book of 1.09. Insiders have only modest exposure to the company through shares. According to the company's most recent proxy statement, all directors and executive officers beneficially owned 3.3% of shares outstanding.

Clean Diesel Technologies (NASDAQ:CDTI) - The U.S.-based company designs, develops and licenses technologies related to reduced emission internal combustion engines. The company views its competitive advantages as: Broad technology portfolio, superior catalyst performance, costs advantage, wide range of applications, proven durability and compatibility with existing infrastructure. But for all of its strengths, the company faces tremendous risks as a very small company competing against large players like Cummins (NYSE:CMI), Catepillar (NYSE:CAT) and BASF (OTCQX:BASFY).

Insiders own a meaningful portion of the shares outstanding. According to the most recent proxy statement, the current directors and officers beneficially own 8.1% of the shares outstanding. Other notable shareholders include: RockPort Capital, Cycad Group and Allen & Company.

Finally, the stock is not for the faint of heart. The company's stock price has been very volatile. In 2011 alone, the stock has halved from its price peak. In the company's most recent auditor's report for 2010, auditors expressed doubts about the company's ability to continue as a "going concern." In addition, the current president and congress' diminished funding for environmental concerns will limit some opportunities for the company.

FiberTower Corporation (NASDAQ:FTWR) - The California-based company provides infrastructure used by wireless carriers and enterprise customers. As of March 31, 2010, the company had 6,400 customer locations in 13 markets and access to 139,000 towers across the country. In addition, it also has service agreements with nine wireless carriers.

Between 2008 and 2010, revenues grew from $49.23 million to $76.12 million. Over this period, the gross profit improvement was even more pronounced, going from -$30.58 million to $14.91 million. The company's stock price has nearly doubled from the 52-week low of $0.73, but it is still well below the 52-week high of $4.87.

Going forward, the company is an interesting play because of its direct exposure to growing bandwidth demand from increasing mobile device (smart phone, tablet, etc) usage. But it is not without risk. The company is not expected to make money in the near future. In many cases, it competes against its own customers. Finally, as a natural consequence of the industry consolidation, FiberTower has significant customer revenue concentration. In 2010, its top customer accounted for 44% of revenues and in that same year, the top four customers accounted for 87% of revenues.

Sino Clean Energy (SCEI) - The U.S.-listed Chinese company operates as a producer and distributor of coal-water slurry fuel in China. The company trades near its 52 week low at very cheap valuation multiples. Sino Clean has a market capitalization of around $30 million despite 2010 revenues of $106 million, net income of $48 million and balance sheet cash of $70.35 million.

Like many other U.S.-listed Chinese companies, Sino Clean is under a cloud of suspicion for wrong doing. The company is notable for its response to matters. On May 25, 2011, the company announced that the Board of Directors declared issuance of a special dividend in the form of a contingent value right entitling each holder to receive a portion of any proceeds from a favorable judgment relating to a compliant filed against Geoinvesting LLC, Alfred Little and the owner of Seeking Alpha.

Strictly by the numbers, the company is stunningly cheap. In addition, the contingent value right dividend is an interesting move that demonstrates management's defiance. Still, with $70.355 million in cash as of March 31, 2011, why stop at the contingent dividend? Why not pay a large cash dividend to undermine the bear thesis? In addition, the company issued $28.677 million shares of stock in the quarter ending December 31, 2010. Considering that it had $34.348 million of cash on the balance sheet and tangible assets of $38.735 as of September 30, 2010, why would the company issue the shares to begin with?

For all of the company's statistical cheapness and operational promise, we cannot get excited about the stock until we better understand management's capital structure decisions.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in SQNS, BCON, CDTI, FTWR over the next 72 hours.

About this article:

Author payment: $35 + $0.01/page view. Authors of PRO articles receive a minimum guaranteed payment of $150-500.
Want to share your opinion on this article? Add a comment.
Disagree with this article? .
To report a factual error in this article, click here