Not many stocks are likely to double. Even well-run companies like Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) are not likely to move 2x even with great results. The market caps are already too large and the law of big numbers won’t allow them to ramp revenue up by a big percentage. There are a couple of exceptions like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), but those don’t come along very often.
There are companies which could have big moves in their stocks next year. Many have been beaten down. A recovery for them is risky, but one good quarter, one management change, one buy-out or financing, or one big new customer could cause a significant price gain. A good example is cable company Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR). When it looked like cable was going to take over the broadband world, shares in the firm moved from $1.10 to almost $5 in a twelve month period. Now that cable is in the dog house, CHTR is back to $1.28.
E*Trade (NASDAQ: ETFC) This company has taken a brutal beating, and for good reason. E*Trade’s banking operation got too far into the hornet’s nest of subprime mortgages even though its discount brokerage business has been fine. But, the mortgage mistake took the share price down from $25 to $3.50 in just a few weeks. The company did get an infusion of $2.5 billion from Citadel Investment Group and its CEO was forced out. Now E*Trade has to prove that that investment was a smart move. If E*Trade can keep its online brokerage arm in good shape like Schwab (SCHW) or Ameritrade (AMTD) have done,and can keep client defections from being excessive, then the market will reward them. But, there can’t be more horrible news out of the firm’s banking operation..After sinking to as low as $3.46 when an implosion seemed likely, shares trade for $4.03 now.
Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) The executives at this company spend all day wishing that they were at Research-In-Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), their more successful rival. PALM has recently announced a product delay that could hurt earnings. Brokerages have downgraded the stock. The company has a 52-week high of $19.50 and now trades at $5.49 after its recent one-time dividend. The bull case for Palm was recently made by its largest shareholder, Elevation Partners, which put $325 million into the company. The fund has brought in former Apple (AAPL) CFO Fred Anderson and Jonathan Rubinstein who helped develop the current iPod and Mac. That is a lot of management fire power and big capital, all bet on Palm bringing a solid smartphone to market. Apple was under $7 in 2003. Remember?
Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) This is a hard one. If the company’s merger with XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) does not go through, the debt at the firm could pull the stock way down. But, if the merger is approved, the first thing Wall St. will look for is how much the combined company can knock out of costs. The next thing investors will want to see is that the satellite radio base is growing rapidly beyond its current level of about 15 million subscribers. If a merged operation can hit these milestones in the second or third quarter of next year, the shares should recover. Two years ago, they traded just below $8. Today they change hands at $3.29.
Level 3 (NASDAQ:LVLT) Very few companies are in as big a mess as Level 3. Its core business would seem to be very promising and this is one of Jim Cramer’s Top Picks for 2007. The firm has a 50,000 mile broadband IP network. With the demand for VoIP, data, and video traffic that should be a very good business. But, management is weak. For some reason this team needs to buy a new company every few months. Integration time and cost are something a troubled company can’t afford.In order to begin a recovery, Level 3 would have to swear off M&A and cut more costs. It has a debt load of $6.8 billion, and thin operating margins. The company has some very large customers like AT&T (T) and Comcast (CMCSA). Management is under a lot of pressure to perform. Level 3 needs to focus on its core business, do it well and avoid all distractions. These shares were at $6.40 in June. Now they trade for $3.28.
Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) Shares in this biotech have gone from $24.27 in April to their current price of $5.64. The company is for all practical purposes, in a pre-revenue stage operation and could remain that way for some time to come. Dendreon does have a potential blockbuster prostate cancer treatment in Provenge that still has some hope of getting FDA approval despite a recent setback. It has completed a $130 million financing on top of its already cheap $75 million financing. If it can get a positive reaction from the FDA in 2008 or if clinical trials take a big step forward, these shares would almost certainly shoot back up.
Vonage (NYSE: VG) Most people on Wall St. assume that Vonage is dead and buried and many analyst targets are under current prices. But, it has settled many of the patent disputes it had with Sprint (NYSE:S), AT&T (NYSE:T), and Verizon (NYSE:VZ). Making peace with the big telecoms has cost Vonage money and it has convertible notes on its books for $253 million. And, churn rates for subscribers moved up to 3% in the last quarter. Revenue did grow 30% for the period to $211 million and the company has 2.5 million VoIP customers. Vonage needs to show a couple of clean quarters with reduced marketing expense, solid subscriber growth, and lower customer churn. These shares trade at $2.10. A year ago they were at $7.29 and this traded north of $15.00 at its IPO.
Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) This big medical device maker got into trouble when it bought Guidant, another medical device company, and paid too much for it. The price tag was $27 billion. The deal was so bad that the entire market cap for BSX is only $19 billion now. After the buy-out, one of Boston Scientific’s key businesses, stents, started to fall-off as studies showed that the devices could cause clots. In less than two years, BSX shares have dropped from over $26 to $12.85. The company has $7.9 billion in long-term debt. Boston Scientific is a potential break-up play. Institutional holders have to be frustrated by the share price. An outsider would have to move in and sell the company off in three or more pieces. It has large businesses in products for cardiovascular disease, digestive and urinary disorders, and treatments for deafness and pain. Without an auction and a serious plan for any pieces the company might keep, these shares go nowhere.
AMD (NYSE:AMD) The company is the second largest maker of processors after Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). AMD’s stock was over $40.00 in early 2006 and over the last year has fallen from $23 to under $9. A price war with Intel has cost the company tremendously in the gross margin area and it is now losing money. AMD also bought graphics chip maker ATI for $5.4 billion. The combined company carries a little over $5 billion in debt. For these shares to move up, CEO Hector Ruiz will have to be shown the door. Wall Street must wonder why his board has not come to this conclusion already. Hope springs eternal. A new CEO would have to look at auctioning off ATI, even at a loss. The value of the ATI business was recently written down . Next AMD will need good overall growth in the PC and server market. It has a new chip called Barcelona which has encountered some performance problems that the company says will be rectified in early 2008. If the new chip can get a bit of extra market share and pricing for PC and server chips hold fairly firm, AMD could show a good quarter or two.
KB Homes (NYSE: KBH) The reasoning behind a double here is extremely simple. KBH and its peers, Pulte (PHM) and DR Horton (DHI), have lost well over half of their market value as the housing market has fallen apart. KB Homes traded over $70 in the summer of 2005 It changes hands at $21.90 now. If interest rates move down and the country does not move into recession next year, there could be a real estate market recovery or at least a stabilization sooner than many expect. A government bail-out of some customers with mortgages, which are about to reset, would help as well. There has also been a hint from Dubai and elsewhere that they might want to acquire a surviving homebuilder. The bear theory is that housing will stay down for another two or three years. If that happens KBH and other builder stocks could sell off more. Some homebuilders could even go to zero. But, the housing market will ultimately recover. The investor’s question is when.
Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) The cable company has been hit hard from two sides. After a big run-up when cable stocks were doing well, it collapsed on news that most cable firms were seeing slow customer demand, due in large part to broadband products from telecom companies. And, as the credit markets fell apart, Charter’s $19.7 billion in debt started to look extremely unappealing. But the company does have two things going for it. The demand for broadband internet, HDTV, and VoIP is still there. And, billionaire controlling share holder,, Paul Allen has every reason to want the company to stay afloat. He probably can’t do a financing that would entirely wipe out current shareholders, not without a ton of lawsuits anyway. His holdings in the company are something of a safety net under the stock’s price. Charter almost certainly has to go through a significant refinancing and Allen could offer to take some debt at a lower interest rate as part of a package. If Charter shows reasonable growth in its telecom and digital cable businesses and operating income improves, Wall St. may find this stock attractive again. It now changes hands at $1.28 down from almost $5 in July.
Douglas A. McIntyre
As a reminder, this is a blueprint of what these companies could do under the right circumstances. Neither Douglas McIntyre nor officers of 24/7 Wall St. own securities in the companies covered.