Cramer: Small-Dollar Stock with Big Potential
Cramer says this small dollar-amount speculative stock has the potential to generate big returns. But you'll have to move quickly.
The stock is optical product maker JDS Uniphase (TICKER: JDSU)
"Now, I'm not the first guy to notice that the outlook for the optical stocks is looking a whole lot brighter," admitted Cramer.
"In the last couple months, we've seen some major price-to-earnings multiple expansion in the group. The average optical stock traded at 20 times earnings in early November, now the group trades at 27.6 times earnings. That's a big move, but JDSU still trades at a 22% discount to its peers, selling for 22.6 times 2013 earnings."
Companies like JDSU ultimately live and die based on the capital expenditure budgets of the big telecom players.
"In 2011 and early 2012, the previous capital spending cycle was still being digested, so there wasn't much in the way of new demand. Then for much of last year, there was so much uncertainty about the economy thanks to Washington that the telco carriers were hesitant to start big spending projects."
"On top of that, customers have been drawing down their inventories of optical components since the beginning of 2011, to the point where those inventories are at their lowest levels in three years," said Cramer.
Because of these factors, Cramer said big telecom has almost no choice but to spend again.
"AT&T recently announced it would increase its capital expenditure budget by 15% over the next three years, Deutsche Telecom is upping its capex budget by 18% over the next several years, Verizon's got multiple new initiatives going, and Softbank's huge investment in Sprint means they now have the cash to upgrade their network aggressively," said Cramer
In fact, Cramer thinks these telco carriers are ramping up for what he calls an arms race.
"And I think JDS Uniphase is the single best way to play the telco arms race," he said.
The reason - JDSU doesn't just sell optical components—the company generates about 40% of its sales from test and measurement equipment for wireless and wire-line networks. These are systems that let carriers make sure their networks are working, while allowing them to identify problems and prevent things like dropped calls.
"This is a higher margin business than the optical side, but more important, the test and measurement biz is 90% correlated with sequential changes in those North American carrier capital expenditure budgets," Cramer explained.
"That's an incredibly powerful correlation, so when carriers like AT&T spend a lot more money on their networks JDSU's test and measurement biz should make a lot more money."
In addition Cramer sees other catalysts including new products designed to help JDSU win share in the 4G LTE wireless infrastructure market.
It's worth noting that as enthusiastic as Cramer is about JDSU – he was also quick to remind that the play is speculative.
Cramer said, "The optical names are the ultimate in speculation. When they're on, you can make a killing. But when they're off, the losses can make you want to kill yourself."
However, with that said – Cramer thought the risk was well worth the reward.
"It's almost always feast or famine with optical stocks, and after a couple of tough years, I think 2013 is looking like it could fall into the feast category," he said.
If you're looking to put money to work – you should probably move quickly.
"JDS Uniphase has an investor conference the week after next. I would try to get into the stock ahead of it, because I bet they'll tell a good story," he said.
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