Promised Land


Andrew Feinberg's 5 Dirt-Cheap Stock Picks for 2011

Andrew Feinberg

To reduce risk, all of my 2011 stock choices trade at low prices in relation to key financial measures and have scant risk of implosion.



My top three stocks for 2010 returned an average of 99% -- but I am not happy. Without General Growth Properties (symbol GGP), which soared 344%, my picks were punk. KVH Industries (KVHI) rose 9% before I told you to sell it -- prematurely, as it turned out. And Medivation (MDVN) plunged 57% after its Alzheimer's drug failed a clinical trial.

The Medivation debacle has scarred me. I will no longer buy stocks that I know could tumble 57% given a foreseeable adverse development. So the coming year's picks all trade at low prices relative to basic measures of value and have scant risk of implosion.

Want to buy a debt-laden Spanish infrastructure company? Probably not. But your aversion explains why Ferrovial SA (which trades actively on the Madrid stock exchange under the symbol FER.MC for about 8 euros and by appointment in the U.S. under the symbol FRRVY.PK for about $11) sells at perhaps a 50% discount to the value of its assets.

Ferrovial overexpanded and nearly collapsed during the financial crisis. But the company was smart enough to sell its Spanish real estate division before the bubble burst, is paring debt and has some outstanding assets -- most of them located outside of Spain. A play on global growth, Ferrovial owns airports around the world, including London's Heathrow, the world's second busiest. It also owns most of the 407 ETR highway in greater Toronto, a godsend for commuters that allows them to cut an hourlong trip in half. Based on another firm's recent purchase of a company that owns 30% of the toll road, Ferrovial's stake in the 407 alone equals 66% of its stock price.

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Next on my list is Richardson Electronics (RELL), which recently sold most of itself to Arrow Electronics (ARW). When the deal closes in January, Richardson will have at least $11 per share in net cash on its books -- equal to the current stock price. And it will still have two businesses that will earn about $7 million a year, or 40 cents per share. Figure they'll be worth ten times earnings (or $4), add that to the cash, and you could argue that Richardson is worth $15 per share.

Why is the stock so cheap? Some investors worry that the company may not use the cash wisely or may not downsize fast enough after the sale to remain profitable. Plus, Richardson's biggest product is vacuum tubes, which conjures up an image of ancient Philco TVs. "We will look closely at repurchasing lots of stock," says chief financial officer Kathleen Dvorak, "but we also intend to grow the company."

American Capital (ACAS) is a business-development company that, at about $8, trades at a 25% discount to its net asset value (NAV) of $9.59 per share. If it traded at 1.1 times NAV, as most of its peers do, the stock would be 38% higher. American Capital, which invests in midsize firms, sells at a discount because it had a near-death experience during the credit crisis and it doesn't pay a dividend. Yet the company is performing well,as hedge-fund mogul John Paulson, its largest shareholder, has noticed.

JMP Securities analyst John Hecht says that American Capital could eventually pay a dividend of 85 cents per share, which at the current share price would equate to a yield of 11%. Sounds mighty compelling to me.

My final pick is a twofer: General Growth Properties and Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC, $37). General Growth emerged from bankruptcy and split into two companies in early November. General Growth ($14 after the reorganization) will run highly profitable malls, and Howard Hughes (the only firm I know that is intentionally named for an apparent lunatic) will hold unprofitable or undeveloped assets, including prime real estate from Waikiki to Manhattan. Together, the two stocks should deliver double-digit returns over time. Bruce Flatt, CEO of Brookfield Asset Management, will chair General Properties; another investment genius, hedge-fund billionaire Bill Ackman, will chair Hughes.



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