7 Dirt Cheap S&P 500 Value Stocks for Massive Upside Potential for 2017 and 2018

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It is probably an understatement that the magnitude of the post-election rally has shocked many investors. Now many investors have been repositioning their investments as the Dow Jones Industrial Average went over 20,000 and the S&P 500 Index hit the 2,300 mark for the first time ever. This should be a time when investors want to consider if they ought to be in stocks or bonds, and they should be considering whether to chase growth or value.

24/7 Wall St. routinely reviews many undiscovered or overlooked companies and opportunities. Some of these end up being well-known, while some are unknown. With stocks at all-time highs, perhaps there may be some better safety in companies that are known and that offer “value” as well.

It is this value segment that has come front and center. In fact, there are still some S&P 500 Index stocks that are valued at less than or close to 10 times expected earnings. For a comparison, the S&P 500 Index was last seen valued at roughly 19.4 times 2016 earnings per share and was valued at about 17.4 times expected 2017 earnings per share.

One issue which investors need to consider is whether the “value” is really value or not. Of the companies in the 24/7 Wall St. screen, some of the stocks were shown to have over 20% (and some much more) in implied analyst upside to the consensus analyst price target, versus implied upside of about 8% to 15% for new Buy and Outperform analyst ratings in S&P 500 and DJIA stocks. When 24/7 Wall St. ran its 2017 Bull/Bear analysis for the Dow, we came up with a late 2017 target of DJIA 21,422 — which implies just over 7% from current levels before considering the dividend yields in a total return basis.

To value and growth investors alike, size often matters. Small cap stocks are often very risky and unproven. These S&P 500 companies all have market caps that are multi-billions, and they should more or less be easily recognized, even by those who have very limited investing experience. All of these issues combined may make these companies sound dirt cheap versus the market as a whole. Unfortunately, many of these companies might not be big beneficiaries of President Trump’s pro-growth initiatives that have driven many other stocks far higher.

Included in this review is a discount from the current share price to the Thomson Reuters consensus (mean) analyst price targets, recent share price performance metrics, valuation metrics, 52-week ranges and more. Additional fundamental color has been added on each stock as well, because it is important to know what may be keeping these stocks out of favor.

One common theme in these stocks is that they all are down handily from their 52-week highs. If the Dow and S&P indexes are close to all-time highs, then this means they are weak stocks in a strong market. Weak stocks usually scare most short-term investors away. Still, this is where value investors often start their screens to find oversold companies where the current share prices may come at a discount to the long-term value that companies may offer.

Before getting too caught up in “cheap” stocks and “value” stocks, it is important to understand that there is no free lunch on Wall Street. If a stock looks cheap, it because there is a reason (or many reasons) investors have not bought the stock up to much higher prices. This is how what is termed a “value trap” captures many investors off guard. The reality is that all of this can add up to serious risks for value investors.

Some value stocks also never really shed their “cheap/value” status. Some companies may even drift far lower before they ever begin to recover. Some value stocks are former growth stocks in which the growth story became interrupted. The past shows just how there can be risks as well: our eight stocks under 10 times earnings from 2015 included some stocks that have hardly budged, even if eight tech stocks from 2016 have done well so far.

Before investing in any value stocks, please use the 11 Crucial Issues For All Value Investors To Consider as a starting point. Not considering these and other options can rapidly make most new value investors find out the lessons of a value trap the hard way.

Here are seven of the cheapest value stocks at the start of February 2017  that are members of the S&P 500 Index. Again, do not overlook the reasons why they may look cheap.

American Airlines

American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) was last seen trading at $44.50, and the Thomson Reuters consensus analyst price target is $53.93. That implies 21% upside if the analysts are correct.

American Airlines shares might be up 25% from about six months ago, but its stock was last seen down about 5% since the end of 2016. Airlines are almost always screened out as “cheap stocks” and that theme continues into 2017. Maybe that was why it ended up as a top new Warren Buffett segment.

This airline stock is also among the cheapest valued airline stocks, and its old bankruptcy days are now years in the rear-view mirror. That being said, airlines in general now get to abuse their customers with lower comfort, less service and fee-gouging at just about every turn.

American Airlines share have a 52-week trading range of $24.85 to $50.64. At the current price level, shares are down almost 13% from the 52-week high and trade at 9.6 times next year’s earnings. The company has a total market cap of $22.9 billion.