The volatility of the past month has beaten up a lot of stocks, raising risks but also delivering opportunities. One of the most tantalizing areas of the market: global cyclicals.
These are stocks that operate in a lot of countries and are therefore highly dependent upon a humming global economy.
Unfortunately, it's hard to hear any humming these days. Europe is flirting with recession, Japan's economic reforms have yet to bear results and China looks set to miss its growth target this year.
While the United States looks strong by comparison, global companies need more than one growing economy to keep their earnings on track. As a result, they've suffered.
Goldman Sachs strategist David Kostin looked at cyclical companies with more than half of their revenues coming from outside the United States. He then narrowed the list to companies that expect their 2015 earnings to grow and trade at a discount based on their price-to-earnings ratios.
It's an ugly group if you focus only on share prices. For the year, these 20 stocks are down an average of 5 per cent, lagging the S&P 500 by 11 percentage points. And since the S&P 500's record high close in September, the stocks have fallen an average of 8 per cent.
Some of the worst performers on the list: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is down 12 per this year; Freeport-McMoRan Inc. has fallen 15 per cent; and International Business Machines Corp. is down 12 per cent.
The price-to-earnings ratio for the group is just 12.1, based on estimated earnings. That's cheaper than the 16.6 P/E for the S&P 500, even though 2015 earnings growth expectations are in line with the index.
These are dangerous stocks if the gloom over the global economy gets worse – say, if the U.S. economy stumbles or something scary happens to China's growth. Their price-to-earnings ratios won't look so low if earnings expectations tumble.
But as Mr. Kostin points out, the share prices have fallen a lot harder than earnings revisions – down an average of just 1 per cent – which suggests that the gloom is already baked in to the stocks.
That leaves plenty of upside if the global economy picks up, and a great entry point for value investors who like to buy battered stocks and hold them for the long term.
The three industrials on Mr. Kostin's list are certainly worth a closer look.
Fluor Corp. is an engineering firm whose share price is down 19 per cent this year. U.S. sales are slipping, but not in Canada, Asia, Middle East and Africa, where sales have been growing at a double-digit pace over the past three years. Third-quarter earnings will be released later this week, and are expected to rise to a record high for the quarter.
General Electric Co. (full disclosure: my family owns shares) recently sold its appliance business, after shedding its consumer finance unit and NBC Universal earlier. The company is focusing on core industrial businesses such as oil and gas equipment, jet engines and power generators. GE's third quarter earnings rose 11 per cent over last year, but the shares have slipped 9 per cent this year.
Boeing Co. has a backlog of 850 orders for its new 787 Dreamliner, and should be able to churn out more of the planes every month as manufacturing efficiencies increase. When the aerospace company reported its third-quarter results last week, its adjusted earnings beat expectations handily. The company also raised its full-year profit outlook. The shares are down 11 per cent this year – but that's good news for anyone looking for a bargain.
Among the other names on Mr. Kostin's list: Johnson Controls Inc., Baker Hughes Inc., Cameron International Corp., National Oilwell Varco Inc., TE Connectivity Ltd., Corning Inc., Oracle Corp., NetApp Inc., Seagate Technology PLC, Symantec Corp., Owens-Illinois Inc., Eastman Chemical Co., Avery Dennison Corp. and FMC Corp.