The US equity markets have seen a tremendous rally since the start of the year and it is gradually getting to a point where decent to attractive valuations are becoming difficult to find. But there are still some stocks whose prices have not grown to the same magnitude to the overall market. Examples of these stocks include Parker Drilling Company (NYSE:PKD), Triple-S Management Corp. (NYSE:GTS), and National Western Life Insurance Company (NASDAQ:NWLI) where prices remained at depressed levels because of some overhangs but now investors are getting interested in these plays. Here is a closer look:
Undervalued Stocks: A look at a driller
Texas based Parker Drilling Company (NYSE:PKD) offers drilling and drilling-related services on a contract basis. The company saw a deep correction in 2012 which took the stock from above $7 mark to $3.6 in November on profitability concerns. Since then, the stock has recovered though still representing a 13 percent cut over the last 12 months. The drop was caused by lower revenues stemming from decline in drilling activities in the US land market. The same trend continued in the first quarter of 2013 when the company reported a 5.3 percent drop in revenues to $167.2 million from the year ago quarter. This resulted in profits shrinking from $26.4 million to just $0.6 million. The company still managed to exceed analysts’ expectations on revenue front which partially explains why the stock popped 12 percent in the last month. The slide in revenues was controlled as the company reallocated US rental tools to more active regions. During the quarter, the company also initiated movement of several international drilling rigs into regions which offer sustainable contract potential and opportunities to achieve operating scale. This obviously had a negative effect on the quarterly results but investors like the fact that the management is taking steps to spur growth. Meanwhile, the stock remains undervalued at forward price earnings multiple of 8.5 and below its book value of $5 per share.
Gold at the bottom of pyramid
Triple-S Management Corp. (NYSE:GTS) provides managed care services to poor people in Puerto Rico and trades at a price earnings multiple of 8.9. This is after a double digit jump last week following encouraging first quarter results. The company primarily operates in Puerto Rico although some operations are based in US Virgin Islands as well. Triple-S Management Corp. (NYSE:GTS) served approximately 1,721,000 members as of December 31, 2012. In the latest quarter, its revenues increased marginally to $592 million but a drop in costs led profits to jump sharply to $17.2 million from $7.5 million in the same period a year ago. The company derives majority of its business from the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration which represent a steady and solid revenue stream. The company also reaffirmed its full year revenue and profit guidance which was issued some time back indicating it may be on its way to beat the conservative guidance in the coming quarters.
National Western Life Insurance Company (NASDAQ:NWLI) is another undervalued stock which trades at considerably lower valuations compared to the overall insurance industry. This Texas based stock life insurance company trades at a price earnings ratio of 8 while industry average stands at 13.7. This is despite the fact that the company has maintained positive growth rate in revenues and profits during the last 5 years. This traction continued in the latest quarter as total revenues increased to $231million compared to $196.7 million reported in the first quarter of 2012. Although profits went down to $16.6 million from $19.7 million, it was largely due to low rate policy environment which puts pressure on interest rate margins for life insurers with interest sensitive products. Since this is an industry wide phenomenon, other insurance players have also been affected. Meanwhile, a 48 percent discount to its book value is enough to make up for reduced profits. This partially explains the 14 percent jump in stock price over the last month but indicates that more upside is left.
Overall, these stocks are not high risk plays but offer opportunities as their operations continue to improve. In fact, being less leveraged is an advantage these companies enjoy.