The trade war, tariffs, and other macro uncertainties caused many investors to dump stocks and buy lower-risk assets like bonds over the past year. However, that widespread fear has reduced the valuations of many stocks to historical lows.
Let's examine three stocks that fit that description -- China Mobile (NYSE: CHL), Momo (NASDAQ: MOMO), and HP (NYSE: HPQ) -- and why they're absurdly cheap relative to their long-term growth potential.
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China's top telco
China Mobile is the largest state-backed telco in China. Its wireless customer base grew 3% annually to 936.8 million in July, and 79% of those customers were 4G subscribers, compared to 75% a year earlier. Its number of wireline customers also grew 29% annually to 178 million in July.
China Mobile's operating revenue rose 2% last year. Its net profit, buoyed by the IPO of China Tower last August, rose 3%. Those growth rates look solid, and the stock pays a forward yield of nearly 5% and trades at less than ten times earnings.
Yet investors are avoiding China Mobile, for four reasons. First, Chinese regulators forced China Mobile and its rivals to lower their wireless fees, eliminate data roaming charges, and provide faster wireline connections at lower prices. Second, China Mobile ramped up its spending on 5G networks -- so its operating expenses rose as its revenue growth waned.
Third, the trade war raised questions about China Mobile's ability to use American components in the future and killed its proposed expansion into the U.S. market. Lastly, the escalating protests in Hong Kong slammed most stocks on the city's exchange, including China Mobile.
Those headwinds are all causing near-term pain for China Mobile, but the telco is still steadily growing and remains one of the safest long-term plays on the Chinese market.
The "Tinders of China"
Chinese tech company Momo owns two major apps: Its namesake app, which generates most of its revenue, is a social platform that lets users find each other and watch live video broadcasts. Its smaller app, Tantan, is a clone of Tinder.
Momo generates most of its revenue from paid subscriptions (which offer premium search features), virtual gifts for live video streamers, and ads. However, the stock tumbled earlier this year when Chinese regulators ordered the temporary removal of Tantan from Chinese app stores, Apple suspended Tantan's in-app payments, and Momo suspended news feed posts for both Momo and Tantan for an internal review.
Image source: Getty Images.
However, all those services were restored near the end of the company's second quarter in late July. Despite all those headwinds, Momo's core monthly active users (MAUs) still rose 5% annually to 113.5 million during the quarter, while paid users across both apps grew 2% to 11.8 million.
Momo's total revenue also rose 32% annually as its adjusted net income surged 39%. Those are stellar growth rates for a company that was crippled throughout most of the quarter. For the full year, analysts expect Momo's revenue and earnings to rise 28% and 22%, respectively, which are very high growth rates for a stock that trades at just eleven times forward earnings.
An unloved tech giant
HP's stock tumbled to a multi-year low last month after its third-quarter earnings disappointed investors and CEO Dion Weisler announced his upcoming resignation.
HP's core PC sales stayed positive during the quarter as the unit's operating margin expanded, but those gains were offset by the weakness of its printer business, which posted declining sales of both its lower-margin hardware and higher-margin supplies. HP's total revenue stayed flat year-over-year during the quarter, but its adjusted EPS, buoyed by buybacks, improved 12%.
HP's earnings guidance for the fourth quarter also slightly missed expectations, raising concerns about its ongoing weakness in printing supplies, which faces tough competition from generic ink and toner makers. HP is trying to fix the printing business by expanding its Instant Ink subscription program and industrial 3D printing business, but those efforts aren't moving the needle yet.
As a result, analysts expect HP's revenue and earnings to both rise just 1% next year. Those growth rates are anemic, but the stock trades at just eight times forward earnings and pays a forward yield of 3.5%, which should limit its downside potential.
HP probably won't rebound anytime soon, but its PC business is still strong and its printing business is still scaling up and expanding into new markets. Those investments should pay off and stabilize HP's growth over the long term, so investors shouldn't abandon this unloved tech giant yet.
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Leo Sun owns shares of Apple, China Mobile, and HP. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Momo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
This article was originally published on Fool.com