Four Price-To-Sales Bargains

By Investopedia | February 02, 2010 AAA

Investors over the years have created countless metrics by which to measure the intrinsic value of a stock, but one metric that can always be counted on to supply important information is a firm's price/sales ratio. By seeking out companies that trade at levels below revenues, investors may be able to spot undervalued stocks that can prove to be good value plays. Here are a few big names that you may be surprised to hear trade below their sales.

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Casino Stocks Beating The Odds
Las Vegas was hammered during the recession. With tourists refusing to travel, the entire city took a beating. The real estate market crashed and burned, and the major hotel and casino operators all feared for their livelihood. In the past nine months, however, casino stocks have roared back. The Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN) are up 425% and 200%, respectively, since April 2009. MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM) has also joined in the party, rebounding 300% over the same period. While that may not startle anyone, you may be surprised to hear that MGM trades at a P/S multiple well below par. At a P/S of only 0.85, MGM seems grossly undervalued when compared to its two biggest competitors, which both come in with P/S over 2.5. While MGM has struggled to keep up with LVS and WYNN in earnings, this stock still may be worth a look as a possible value play.

Speaking Of Travel And Tourism...
Royal Caribbean Cruises
(NYSE: RCL) has followed the same pattern as Vegas, rebounding from a tumultuous 2008 and early 2009 to land back near the $30 level, up 300% in the past year. Royal Caribbean also trades at a small discount to sales (0.98), but it sells for a deep discount to book value at only 0.79, even after the recent surge. Comparing Royal Caribbean to its biggest competitor, Carnival (NYSE: CCL), it looks as though RCL may be riding a bit too high. With a P/E of 36.5, more than double that of Carnival, and lagging earnings, it may be tough to maintain the momentum it has built in the past year.

Another stock trading at a deep discount to revenues is Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO), coming in with a P/S ratio of only 0.46. Marathon also trades slightly below book value (0.98), adding to the argument that MRO may be undervalued by the markets right now. While it doesn't have the resources to compete with industry giants like Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX), Marathon sports positive earnings with growth pegged at 40% higher than the industry average for the coming year.

Luxury Retail Rebound Predicted
Lastly, we take a look at the luxury retail sector, namely Saks (NYSE: SKS), which trades at a P/S of only 0.42. While Saks has struggled to generate revenues in this economic climate, many analysts predict a rebound for luxury retailers in 2010 as consumers begin to venture back into high-end department stores, which enjoyed so much success in the years before the recession. Although earnings have not been good for Saks, the retailer is hoping to build momentum from its last quarter, when the company recorded a 1 cent per share profit in the face of expected losses in the range of 11 cents. While Saks might be a bit of a gamble at this point, any upturn in the economy would prove very profitable for luxury retailers like Saks and Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN).

Opportunities For Nice Profits
Keeping an eye out for companies that trade at discounts to sales can provide investors with opportunities for nice profits, where others that tend to focus solely on P/E and P/B ratios may miss out. (To learn more, see Use The Price-To-Sales Ratios To Value Stocks.)

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