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3 Ugly Duckling Stocks to Buy Now

October 02, 2009 – by Richard Band

One way to be successful as an investor is to feast on stocks that everyone else throws overboard in a panic. This can end up being some of the easiest money you’ll make.

Here are three stocks that fit into that category now:

Stock #1: Gazprom

Gazprom (OGZPY) is Russia’s crown jewel—the world’s biggest gas producer. Half owned by the Russian government, Gaz is run by cronies of Prime Minister Putin. Granted, not the most savory bunch, and the political connections do come at a cost: Gaz lags far behind the efficiency standards of Western energy producers.

On the other hand, the stock price appears to reflect all the seamy stuff (and then some). In terms of the net present value of its reserves, adjusted for debt, Gaz trades at about a 40% discount to major Western companies.

I don’t care for Putie, but the market is assigning a $50 billion penalty against Gaz just for flying the Russian flag. Too much? I suspect so. Buy OGZPY at $25 or less.

We’re following another Russian stock that in that same portfolio that could also double for us. It’s Lukoil (LUKOY), Russia’s largest oil producer that also has massive natural gas resources. Its price is a drastic discount to other oil majors which offsets Russia’s risk. Buy below $48.

Stock #2: Alcoa

Ask anyone. The bull market in commodities is dead.

I’ve selected the ugliest commodity duckling of them all for a potentially quick triple: aluminum.

The global slump has hammered aluminum sales, and Alcoa (AA), America’s largest aluminum producer, kicked off the Q1 reporting season with a loss of $497 million. But AA isn’t twiddling its thumbs. The company recently slashed its dividend and raised $1.4 billion through an offering of stock and convertible notes.

Now, with the economy about to turn around, the company has the wind increasingly at its back. I’m projecting a triple by 2012. Buy AA on a dip to $9.50 or less.

Bear in mind, however, that you should be comfortable with the risk associated with AA. If the economy were to tank again, for instance, bankruptcy (i.e., shareholder wipeout) would be a real danger. I’m not expecting that to happen, but you need to be aware of the risk in this particular case.

Stock #3: Washington Real Estate Investment Trust

No one wants real estate, right? It was the ultimate bubble, and it found the ultimate pin.

Like Robert Toll says, “We have been led into a dark hole.” He should know. He’s the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Toll Brothers.

No, don’t invest in home builders quite yet. Unless you have Buffett-style money, of course. But there is one area that is attractive, and that’s Washington, D.C. real estate, where big government holds sway, the prices of homes remain rock solid, and the Feds need more office space.

The easiest way to do that is to buy the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (WRE). WRE is landlord to many federal tenants. The company owns mostly office buildings in the Washington, D.C. area, where paper shuffling is big business.

The stock yields 7.4%,  and the company has raised its dividend 38 years in a row. Buy WRE at $24.20 or less.

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