The Best Ideas of the Week


Hey, second quarter, good riddance to ya. The sharp drops in the market were no fun, but with earnings season around the corner, perhaps investors will again find reasons to buy. Right now, it seems that most investors can find many more reasons to be bearish than bullish. And that's actually good for stocks. You have a chance to make money when stocks are loathed. 

As investors have been digesting the ramifications of a possibly slowing economy, they may have overlooked some important news coming out of specific stocks. So it helps to take a look back and point the spotlight once more on some of the most compelling stocks from this week's StreetAuthority winners and losers.

PolyMet Mining (AMEX: PLM )

As we noted on Monday morning , PolyMet Mining stood to benefit from a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let the company move forward with its application to mine copper and nickel at a large Minnesota mine. Shares initially surged higher, but ended the week even lower than where it began, not far from the 52-week low. Perhaps that's because investors realized that PolyMet still needs to file mountains of paperwork, then begin the mining exploration process, and won't see actual revenues for three more years.

But the mine near Duluth, Minnesota, has the potential to be a blockbuster. It holds vast sums of copper and nickel, is near a highly-skilled workforce and major transportation links, and should prove to be a low-cost operation. Meanwhile, other major nickel and copper belts elsewhere in the world are showing signs of quickening depletion rates.

Action to Take --> Analysts at Canada's Wellington West research think shares will eventually rise up to C$4 (or $3.80 in U.S. dollars). That's nearly triple the current price.

Micron Technology (NYSE: MU )

Investors continue to shun technology stocks, assuming that recent stellar results cannot be sustained. But as we noted on Tuesday , the outlook for Micron Technology, the world's largest maker of memory chips, remains bright. For investors, there are two key metrics to track -- pricing and volume. It's pretty clear that sales volumes should be decent to good, but some suspect that pricing may take a hit if more supply comes on line. Notably, the leading memory producers are keeping a tight enough lid on supplies that pricing looks pretty firm.

Investors may have also questioned the earnings momentum relative to expectations. In the prior three quarters, Micron topped profit forecasts by at least 65%, but profits only beat forecasts by a small margin this time around. And profits rose only 15% sequentially after rising more than 50% in the prior quarter. More than likely, Micron could approach a cycle peak in profits in fiscal (August) 2011 of around $1.75 to $2 a share. But there's no strong reason to think that profits will plunge after that, since memory makers are now acting much more rationally in terms of keeping output in line with demand. That should keep pricing firm.

Action to Take --> Shares trade for less than five times that peak run rate, and would post a 30% gain if they traded up to six times the peak EPS . A more generous multiple, when investors no longer dislike tech stocks, could push shares far higher than that.

Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA )

We expressed amazement that shares of Tesla Motors shot up so quickly following its IPO .

Well, sanity has been restored, as shares crashed back down in subsequent sessions. But they're still overvalued , and could eventually fall by half from current levels.

A look back at the history of Delorean Motor Cars is instructive. That car maker -- made famous in the movie Back to the Future -- told investors that it needed to make 20,000 cars every year to break even. But went on to make only 10,000 cars -- in its entire three-year history.

Action to Take --> Tesla has only sold roughly 1,000 vehicles in two years, and you could argue that the total market for expensive niche cars like this never exceed a few thousand. At some point, it will dawn on investors that Tesla is unlikely to ever turn a profit. Despite the pullback, this looks ripe for shorts. 

-- David Sterman
Staff Writer

Disclosure: Neither David Sterman nor StreetAuthority, LLC hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

© Copyright 2001-2010 StreetAuthority, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas

Referenced Stocks: MU , PLM , TSLA

David Sterman

David Sterman

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