Investing 101: Stocks Under $3 With Encouraging Inventory Trends

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Are you interested in low-priced stocks with healthy accounting behavior? One approach is to look into inventory trends -- doing so provides an interest ing insight into the health of a company's sales trends.

Under $3
Low-priced stocks can be priced the way they are for many reasons. The specific reason is very important when considering different stocks.

A stock's price may be low because of company policy, such as a recent stock split or a recent IPO price. Prices can also be low because of bad trading performance. The latter is called a "value trap," in which a stock's low price appears attractive but indicates lack of value.

Encouraging inventory
To help avoid stocks that present "value traps" we decided to screen a universe of stocks trading under $3 for those with encouraging inventory trends.

For our purposes, a positive inventory trend implies growth in quarterly revenue is outpacing growth in quarterly inventory year-over-year. We also screened for companies with quarterly inventory decreasing as a percent of current assets.

To understand why these trends are positive, think of why the opposite trends would be negative. If revenue were growing slower than inventory, it may indicate that the company is having trouble selling its inventory -- although this could just indicate inventory building or a change in sales policies.

The list
The following is a list of stocks priced under $3 with positive inventory trends.

Do you think these names are attractively priced? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. BPZ Resources (NYS: BPZ) : Engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas in Peru and Ecuador. Current price at $2.86. Revenue grew by 35.67% during the most recent quarter ($36.21M vs. $26.69M y/y). Inventory grew by -9.62% during the same time period ($18.6M vs. $20.58M y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 16.5% to 14.68% during the most recent quarter (comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30).

2. Star Scientific (NAS: CIGX) : Engages in the development, implementation, and licensing of tobacco curing technology that prevents the formation of carcinogenic toxins present in tobacco and tobacco smoke, primarily the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA). Current price at $2.19. Revenue grew by 90.48% during the most recent quarter ($0.4M vs. $0.21M y/y). Inventory grew by -14.2% during the same time period ($2.78M vs. $3.24M y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 31.12% to 19.97% during the most recent quarter (comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30).

3. Mueller Water Products (NYS: MWA) : Manufactures and markets a range of water infrastructure, flow control, and piping component system products for use in water distribution networks and water treatment facilities in the United States and Canada. Current price at $2.4. Revenue grew by 7.76% during the most recent quarter ($373.6M vs. $346.7M y/y). Inventory grew by -11.44% during the same time period ($237.7M vs. $268.4M y/y). Inventory, as a percentage of current assets, decreased from 42.17% to 39.7% during the most recent quarter (comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30).

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research. List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA.

Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman and Eben Esterhuizen do not own any of the shares mentioned above. Accounting data sourced from Google Finance.

At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Mueller Water Products. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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