You don't need the investing acumen of Warren Buffett or the riches of a trust-fund baby to achieve financial success.
Small sums of money invested monthly in undervalued small-cap stocks offer hope for your greatest returns. They offer the best growth opportunities for growth because the big investors mostly ignore them.
Here I screen for stocks with less than a $3 billion market cap, earnings surprises of 15% or more in the previous quarter, and a long-term earnings growth forecast of at least 15%. We'll then filter our findings through the collective investing wisdom of the 180,000 members in our Motley Fool CAPS community.
Here are some of the stocks this simple screen found:
EPS Actual vs. Estimated
Average Analyst 5-Year EPS Estimate
CAPS Rating (out of 5)
Boyd Gaming (NYS: BYD)
Focus Media (NAS: FMCN)
Qihoo 360 Technology (NAS: QIHU)
Sources: Yahoo.com and Motley Fool CAPS.
Of course, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for more research. We need to look more closely at these companies to see whether analysts' faith in them is well founded.
A link to the future
According to a just completed study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the U.S. gambling industry will experience continued anemic growth of just 5% through 2015, but Atlantic City, N.J., will fare the worst by being the only market to experience lower revenues than at the start of 2010, the period studied.
For MGM Resorts (NYS: MGM) and Wynn Resorts (NAS: WYNN) , which have a large presence in Las Vegas but nothing in A.C. (MGM's 50% interest in the Borgata is being divested), the reports finding that Sin City should see revenues hit their peak highs again is a welcome development. For Boyd Gaming, with feet in both markets, it's a mixed bag.
Boyd owns the other half of the Borgata, and it represents the casino operator's biggest moneymaker with a third of net revenues. While Las Vegas accounts for another third, that's divided up between nine different casinos, so the rise and fall of New Jersey's gambling mecca is a big deal. The pressure on A.C. rises from new and expanded gambling opportunities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and even West Virginia. As state and local governments look to solve their financial troubles by approving gambling operations in their locales, it bleeds Atlantic City's coffers.
CAPS member StocksForLimits is concerned about the $2.8 billion worth of debt Boyd carries, but maturities on the bulk of it are still a number of years away while current maturities seem manageable. How about you? Tell us on the Boyd Gaming CAPS page whether you think its debt load will be problematic if its primary gaming market will suffer declining revenues, and then add Boyd to your watchlist to see how it turns out.
Both Focus Media and Qihoo 360 Technology have been the target of short sellers, suggesting that each has overstated its numbers, and the resulting mass exodus for the doors have shares of both companies trading at half their 52-week highs.
These days, accusations of fraud and impropriety at Chinese small-cap stocks are nothing new, but have the short sellers cast their nets to far in these instances? Qihoo says Citron Research's research was faulty, as it apparently doesn't understand the nature of its business -- particularly in terms of popularity, where Citron doubted its claims of being the third biggest website in China since it's a desktop application and wouldn't show up in website hits the way Baidu.com (NAS: BIDU) and 360.cn do.
Focus Media just issued a report as well, rebutting the research from Muddy Water challenging that the number of TV screens showing its ads was incorrect. The report found Focus Media's screen count was on target, but then this was an internal review conducted by its audit committee, so I don't place as much credence in its results as I would those from an independent third party. But Focus Media has one of those under way as well.
Although both companies are answering the allegations against them, there remain some lingering doubts about their operations. Not all of the charges are easily rebutted, such as whether Qihoo's ability to erase plug-ins (like the Alexa hit-count tracker from Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) that formed part of the basis for the Citron report) makes i a helpful app or malware.
A number of CAPS All-Stars, including tad40 and naughtyguy, say the impressive track record of Citron Research ought to give it the benefit of the doubt, and four out of five All-Stars think Qihoo will underperform the market indexes. Just 17% of those weighing in on Focus Media feel the same way.
Add Focus Media and Qihoo 360 Technology to your watchlist and see whether they can beat back the allegations of fraud mounting against them, and then give us your views in the comments section below.
Foolish final thoughts
These three companies have the odds stacked against them, but The Motley Fool has identified two stocks that are also facing difficult times yet still grow revenues hand over fist. The report is free, but it's available only for a short time, so ask for your copy today and find out the two cash kings that are changing the face of their industry.
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Dupreyholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Baidu. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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