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10 Cheapest Stocks: Deepest Discounts

Investors are concerned about a range of issues, from Europe's burdensome debt to stricter US regulations. As a result, inexpensive stocks are now even cheaper. Expensive stocks are getting more dangerous.

Close-up of a pen on stock price chart
Close-up of a pen on stock price chart

Bonds, gold and the dollar have risen in 2010 as investors dumped stocks. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Broad Market Index of bonds climbed 4.2 percent in the first half of the year, while the precious metal increased 13 percent to a record.

Meanwhile, the dollar jumped 10 percent against a basket of currencies including the euro, yen and British pound after falling in the same period in 2009.

Here are 10 US stocks that trade at massive discounts to the broader equity market and their peer groups. They sell for price-to-projected-earnings ratios of less than 6. By comparison, the S&P 500 sells for 11 times estimated 2011 earnings.

The benchmark index trades at a PEG ratio, or a price-to-earnings-to-growth ratio, of 0.8. Many investors consider 1 to be a fair value.

The stocks are ordered from cheap to cheapest.

10. Everest Re Group is a property and casualty insurer and reinsurer in the U.S.

Everest Re swung to a first-quarter loss of $23 million, or 38 cents a share, from a profit of $109 million, or $1.76, a year earlier. Its revenue jumped 28 percent. The stock pays a dividend yield of 2.7 percent with a safe payout ratio of 17 percent. It sells for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 5.9, a 47 percent discount to its peer average.

9. Deutsche Bank is a Germany-based global investment bank, offering capital-raising, trading and asset-management services. Its stock has dropped 27 percent a year since 2007, underperforming US. indices. First-quarter profit surged 52 percent and earnings per share increased 41 percent, though revenue declined marginally. The stock trades at a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 5.9 and a price-to-cash-flow ratio of 1.4, 50 percent and 91 percent discounts to peer averages.

8. Mitsui & Co. is a trading company, importing, exporting and selling goods on behalf of its clients. During the past three years, it has grown revenue 1.9 percent annually, on average. Mitsui swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $604 million, or $6.71, from a loss of $1.3 billion, or $14.13, a year earlier. Its stock sells for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 5.5, a 70 percent discount to the industry average.

7. Western Digital sells hard-drives. Over a three-year span, it has increased sales 22 percent annually, on average, and boosted profit 41percent a year. Fiscal third-quarter profit increased seven-fold to $401 million, or $1.71, as revenue surged 66 percent. Western Digital sells for a PEG ratio of 0.1, a 90 percent discount to fair value. Its price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 4.9 reflects a 70 percent discount to its peer average.

6. Delta Air Lines provides air transport for passengers and cargo. Delta has a tainted history, having exited bankruptcy in 2007. Its stock has fallen 16 percent a year since the exit. But there are encouraging signs. Delta's first-quarter loss narrowed 68 percent to $256 million, or 31 cents, as revenue ascended 2.5 percent. Its stock trades at a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 4.9, 75 percent less than the airline industry average.

5. Chimera Investment is a mortgage real estate investment trust, investing in residential mortgage-backed securities. It was spun off of Annaly Capital Management in 2007. Chimera offers a lofty distribution yield of 19 percent. First-quarter profit multiplied to $126 million, or 19 cents, from $19 million, or 11 cents, in the year-earlier period. Chimera trades at a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 4.8, a 92 percent discount to its REIT peer average.

4. Seagate Technology, like Western Digital, sells hard-drives. The company swung to a fiscal third-quarter profit of $518 million, or $1, from a loss of $275 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier. Revenue grew 42 percent. Since 2007, Seagate has expanded earnings per share 51 percent annually, on average. Its shares sell for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 3.8 and a price-to-cash-flow ratio of 3.6, 77 percent and 75 percent discounts to industry averages.

3. UAL owns United Air Lines, which, like Delta, endured a bankruptcy restructuring. It emerged in 2006. Its sales have fallen 4.3 percent a year since then amid an economic recession. UAL shares have risen six-fold during the past 12 months, beating indices by a wide margin. Still, they trade at a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of just 3.7, reflecting an 81 percent discount to their airline peer average.

2. Assured Guaranty is an insurance company that specializes in credit-enhancement products, which improve the credit of underlying debt obligations. Although this business is inherently risky, Assured Guarantee is expected to rebound in the months ahead. First-quarter net income quadrupled to $322 million. The stock sells for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 3.5, indicating a 69 percent discount to the insurance industry average.

1. DryShips is a dry-bulk shipper that provides seaborne transport for iron ore, coal, grain and fertilizers worldwide. The Baltic Dry Ship Index, a gauge of carriers' pricing power, fell 2.3 percent last week to the lowest level since October, a discouraging sign. DryShips shares fell 5 percent. They sell for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 3, a price-to-book ratio of 0.3 and a price-to-cash-flow ratio of 2.6, 75 percent, 67 percent and 55 percent discounts to peer averages.

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