The S&P 500 is at all-time highs, and investors have proven at each and every little pullback that they will gobble up their favorite stocks when they go on sale. Investors are not fooled by the fear-mongers that warn about rising interest rates. After all, does anyone believe that in this low interest rate world where half the planet is in or teetering on a virtual recession that rates are likely to rise too high or too fast?
What the current climate is dictating is that investors need to be mindful of value. Chasing growth endlessly in a low-growth environment can be costly, so many investors are looking for value in some of the overlooked or under-followed stocks. These come with more risk than traditional Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) stocks. Still, the daily analyst upgrades and downgrades almost always have small-cap or low-priced stocks in which the analyst is calling for huge upside.
After a weekend review of key analyst calls, 24/7 Wall St. identified five key analyst upgrades or very positive research calls where analysts had projected upside from 25% to well over 100%. Again, that means there is more risk. Most DJIA stocks with Buy ratings are projected to rise 5% to 15%, and our own 2015 DJIA outlook of 19,142 would imply gains of only 7.4% for all of 2015 — and more than one-third of that upside was expected to come from dividends.
These are the five key analyst calls in stocks under $10 with massive upside potential. 24/7 Wall St. would remind readers not to be tricked into thinking that analysts have crystal balls that let them see the future. They are often wrong.
AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) may still be facing pressure in many aspects of its businesses, but don’t bother telling that to Merrill Lynch. The bulge bracket firm does not just see a buying opportunity in AK Steel with a reiterated Buy rating, the firm’s Timna Tanners and P.T. Luther see a price objective of $9.00. The call was on the heels of a visit with CFO Roger Newport. He mentioned that the recent $20 per ton price hike was sticking and that more hikes might be coming down the pipe, along with many more positive comments. AK Steel has a range of $3.62 to $11.37 in the past 52-weeks, and the current $5.67 share price is about 30 cents above the consensus analyst price target. It might not matter that this was a $15 stock in 2011, but Merrill Lynch’s analysts are leaving almost 60% upside to their price objective, based on Friday’s $5.67 close.
Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) remains a speculative silver mining outfit because it is in such a long turnaround. Lower silver prices have put a cap on the big upside here as well, but the cost structure is very advantageous if there is new silver and gold interest ahead. Roth Capital raised its rating to Buy from Neutral early this past week, and it assigned a $3.50 price target. This is one that investors will have to wait for pullbacks in because the stock was at $3.00 when the call was made and Hecla closed at $3.25 on Friday. The consensus price target is also down at $2.92. In addition, Sterne Agee CRT maintained a Neutral rating the following day. We just gave our earnings outlook to 2016 in this one the prior week, with some concerns. Hecla was also one of the top five gold mining stocks of the first quarter as well.
Cosan Ltd. (NYSE: CZZ) was started with a Buy rating at Goldman Sachs on Tuesday. The firm assigned a $9.50 price target. Shares had been at $6.98 prior to the call, and they closed at $7.09 on Friday, implying almost 35% upside without considering dividend payments. What matters here is that this is a Brazilian company involved in sugar and ethanol, fuel, logistics services, lubricants and piped natural gas. Is it possible that some good news can come out of the world’s most promising emerging market that just never manages to consistently live up to its potential? Another consideration is that Goldman Sachs is not anywhere close to having the most optimistic price target, and Cosan’s 52-week range is $6.06 to $14.79.
Egalet Corp. (NASDAQ: EGLT) is a small-cap specialty pharma player targeting medicines for patients with acute and chronic pain. This is a very controversial stock by the looks of the news flow, but Guggenheim sees well over 100% upside in this speculative stock. The notion that it lost more than $1.00 per share in the last quarter is already out of the way too. Guggenheim started Egalet with a Buy rating and a monster price target of $24.00 per share. This is against a $9.10 prior close, and shares closed at $9.39 on Friday. Egalet’s 52-week range is $3.81 to $17.03. To balance such a strong upside call, we want to show both sides of the coin here and point out that Zack’s slapped a Sell rating on Egalet late in the week.
Good Times Restaurants Inc. (NASDAQ: GTIM) is apparently having such a good time that two analysts loved on the burger drive-through chain. With less than 50 units, potential upside is unlimited if it expands out of Colorado and Wyoming. With about 90% of its business in Colorado, maybe some recent law changes that encourage “the munchies” are helping people who want to stuff their faces with natural beef, natural chicken and maybe some frozen custard. Good Times was started Overweight with an $11.50 price target at Stephens, just a day after it was started as Buy with a fair value estimate of $11.00 at Janney Capital Markets. The market cap here is only $111 million, and analysts feel it could expand much more. An average of the two price targets implies upside of about 20%, if they are right. But seriously, what if this chain expands to more markets?
Again, be mindful of the risks in small-cap stocks. Many small cap stocks implode or never live up to their potential.