What a difference six months makes. Back in late February, Wall Street was just beginning to come to terms with the scary reality that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was going to levy an immense physical and financial toll on the United States. This resulted in five weeks of utter chaos on Wall Street, with the benchmark S&P 500 losing as much as 34% of its value.
This week, however, we've seen two of the three major U.S. indexes -- the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite -- reach new all-time highs. But even these incredible rallies pale in comparison to the leadership witnessed by the Nasdaq 100.
The Nasdaq 100 is a market-value-weighted basket of 100 of the largest domestic and international companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. It includes a variety of sectors and emphasizes technology, but doesn't include financial stocks. Because the Nasdaq 100 includes a number of high-growth companies in the technology and healthcare sectors, it's up over 33% on a year-to-date basis.
There's little question that the FAANG stocks and Tesla have played big roles in this outperformance. After all, the FAANG stocks plus Tesla equal 50.92% of the weighting of the Nasdaq 100. But lost among this outperformance is the fact that there are still some huge bargains among these 100 stocks.
Best of all, you don't need to have Warren Buffett's pocketbook to make money off of these value stocks within the Nasdaq 100. If you have, say, $3,000 that you can set aside for investment purposes, then you have more than enough money to buy these bargain Nasdaq 100 stocks.
Walgreens Boots Alliance
In terms of value, you probably won't find a cheaper stock in the Nasdaq 100 than pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA). After losing a third of its value in 2020 and seeing its full-year estimates reduced because of COVID-19, a share of Walgreens can be had for approximately 7.5 times next year's forecast earnings per share.
Whereas most healthcare stocks have avoided coronavirus-related weakness, Walgreens' consumer-facing business hasn't been so lucky. The March and April lockdowns stymied foot traffic into its stores, hurting front-end sales.
But the important thing to realize here is that front-end sales typically generate weak margins. In the latest quarter, U.S. pharmacy sales actually rose 3%, which is notable given that pharmacy margins are where Walgreens will generate the bulk of its profits. Between COVID-19, vaccinations, and an aging population, Walgreens' pharmacy segment is only going to see demand pick up over time.
Walgreens is also making serious strides to modernize itself and improve customer engagement. Big investments designed to build up omnichannel sales are beginning to pay off, and the company's digital Find Care marketplace is helping to connect people who have chronic illnesses with medical specialists. In other words, Walgreens is aiming to add its touch to the precision medicine process and build loyalty with potential longtime customers.
With Walgreens Boots Alliance paying out a whopping 4.7% yield and riding a 44-year streak of increasing its dividend, it looks like a no-brainer buy for patient investors.
On the surface, satellite radio company Sirius XM (NASDAQ: SIRI) probably doesn't look like a bargain, especially after reviewing Walgreens' microscopic price-to-earnings ratio. At a forward P/E of 25, Sirius XM is more or less on par with where it's been over the past five years.
However, there's more than one way to assess value. With Sirius XM working diligently on paying down its debt over the past decade, I find the company's price-to-cash-flow ratio far more intriguing. Based on the $0.48 per share in operating cash flow expected in 2021 by Wall Street, the company's multiple of 12 times cash flow would be a decade low, with its earnings yield coming in at a decade high.
One of the most obvious things that makes Sirius XM such an attractive investment opportunity is the fact that it's a monopoly. There are no other satellite radio operators in the U.S. While this doesn't mean the company is devoid of competition, it does mean Sirius XM possesses strong pricing power on its subscription services, and that its transmission fees remain relatively fixed no matter how many new subscribers sign up.
Sirius XM is also uniquely positioned to navigate inevitable rough patches in the U.S. economy. Whereas terrestrial and online radio are built on an ad-centric model, Sirius XM's business model revolves around subscriptions. Even with Pandora's ad-focused business under its umbrella (Sirius XM acquired Pandora in 2019), ad revenue has only accounted for 13.6% of sales in the first half of 2020, with its traditional satellite subscriptions generating 82.7% of total sales. Businesses are much more likely to pare back on ad spending during periods of economic weakness than people are to cancel their subscriptions. Case in point: Subscriber revenue is up 5.6% on a year-to-date basis.
Sirius XM may not look like a traditional value stock, but it's a bargain hiding in plain sight in the Nasdaq 100.
Investors can also grab one heck of a bargain if they take their $3,000 and put it work in Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALXN). Alexion currently trades at roughly nine times its cash flow and a little over nine times next year's profit per share forecast. For context, Alexion's average price-to-cash-flow ratio over the past five years is 32, and its current forward P/E is half of its five-year average.
What separates Alexion from a veritable sea of drug developers is the fact that it focuses on ultra-rare indications. Targeting a very small pool of patients can be inherently risky if clinical trials fail to produce expected results. However, if these studies prove successful, it can lead to incredible cash flow and virtually no competition. This lack of competition (along with an enormous list price) is what allowed Alexion to grow its blockbuster therapy Soliris into a $4 billion-a-year drug.
Innovation and acquisitions are also playing a role. In terms of innovation, Alexion developed Ultomiris, which is a next-generation therapy designed to replace Soliris. Ultomiris is only administered once every eight weeks, as opposed to every two weeks with Soliris. There was once some concern about Soliris' revenue stream being threatened by generics at some point in the future, but Ultomiris has ensured that Alexion's cash flow is well protected for many years to come.
As for acquisitions, Alexion purchased Portola Pharmaceuticals earlier this year for $1.41 billion in cash, thereby getting its hands on Andexxa, the first and only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse the anticoagulating effects of factor Xa inhibitors.
With Wall Street looking for Alexion to grow its earnings per share by 40%, in aggregate, between 2019 and 2023, it looks like a solid bet for bargain hunters.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.