John Templeton was one of the first US investors to engage in a more global attempt to find potentially profitable stocks.
Templeton was a value investor, and he scoured the globe in search of bargains. His investors won big, earning 14.5 percent annually on average from 1954 to 1992.
Today, global value investing is much more common. Many foreign stocks are very easily traded here in the United Sates, and access to accurate financial data is better than ever thanks to the internet. Most investors should think globally when investing their cash.
An interesting and useful monthly exercise is to search for the cheapest stocks in the world. Doing this gives insight into where the point of maximum pessimism might be found in various sectors, countries and regions and which stocks might have the potential for market beating returns over the next few years.
Related: Listening To The Smart Guys: Be Cautious
A deep value investor's focus should be on those stocks that trade a huge discount to tangible book value and have the ability to survive until they thrive again. In addition to being cheap when compared to assets, the screen should rule out any company with a high debt load or insufficient current assets to fund the business until conditions improve.
Right now the cheapest stock in the world that meets these criteria is IAMGOLD (NYSE: IAG). The Toronto based gold miner trades at just 40 percent of book value at the current price. The balance sheet is solid with a debt to equity ratio of just 0.23 and a current ratio of 3.4.
The company has been hurt by low gold prices and the fact that they are one of the highest cost producers of the shiny metal. IAMGOLD's total costs per ounce are almost $1200.00. The company needs to do more work on reducing costs this year or it will continue to struggle even if there's a substantial rally in the price of gold.
The company reduced costs by $92 year over year, but they have a lot more work to do. IAMGOLD has more than $300 million of gold and cash on the books, so they should be able to stay operational until a reduction in costs and rally in gold prices restores profitability.
The next stock on the global cheap list is based in Idaho and is also a miner. Couer Mining (NYSE: CDE) primarily mines for silver but also produces some gold, niobium and copper. The debt to equity ratio is 0.18 and the current ratio is 3.7 so the balance sheet is in decent shape. Trading at just 49 percent of book value, the stock is certainly cheap at this price.
Low silver prices have been a drag on earnings. There is no way to know when the precious metals markets will turn higher, but it reasonable to assume there will be rallies in the metals at some point. This stock should recover much of the ground it has lost the past three years when that happens.
Resolute Forest Products
The next stock on the list is the world's largest forest products company. The company sells things like newsprint, specialty papers, market pulp and wood products. Resolute Forest Products (NYSE: RFP) has a debt to equity is just 28 percent and the current ratio is 2.6, so they are financially healthy.
See also: The Futility Of Attempting To Predict The Markets
The stock is definitely cheap with the shares trading at just 51 percent of book value. Although newsprint is a declining business, Resolute is the largest company in the business and dominates the marketplace.
They are also the fifth largest producer of lumber in North America and are the largest holder of timber cutting rights in Canada. When the global economy does gain some traction, this company should see revenues and profits move much higher and the stock price should do the same.
This month's search reveals that the market is still not very upbeat on the economy in the near term and remains a little concerned about deflation. That will change at some point and patient investors could reap handsome rewards buying these stocks as they trade near the point of maximum pessimism.
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