Come See the Value Opportunities I Saw on the High Seas

 | Jun 26, 2017 | 12:00 PM EDT
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I was out of pocket last week, sailing the high seas aboard a cruise ship bound for Bermuda, and my plan was to try and ignore all things investment-related. We all need a break from this crazy world of the markets from time to time, and I was doing pretty well, at least for a while. However, it is difficult to suppress that side of my brain for long, and I was caught several times checking out the happenings on my iPad.

While it does not look like I missed all that much last week, at least in the ever-narrowing world of value, there were plenty of investment-related observations to be made aboard our ship. First, the cruise industry seems like a cash machine. We were on a Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) ship, and they seem to have it all figured out, especially how to compel passengers to part ways with their money. As my son observed, putting the casino in the middle of everything, out in the open with no doors -- you had to walk through it to get anywhere -- is a brilliant way to draw moths to the lights. For its efforts, NCLH boasts low-teen net profit margins. Yet those of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and Carnival Corp. (CCL) are even higher, in the mid to high-teens.

Meanwhile, I also noticed a lot of step-counting going on as Fitbit Inc. (FIT) devices were plentiful, even among the 20-plus family members with whom we were traveling. FIT remains unpopular with investors, and seemingly with good reason. Its brief run as a cult stock has ended badly as revenue and guidance fell off of a cliff, leaving shares down 90% over the past two years. Nearly all the luster is gone, and along with it, so are expectations. It's the type of situation where most have given up, driving the stock price into the ground, that can be compelling.

Some would call it a falling knife, but Fitbit does have a long runway, with $726 million, or $3.21 in cash and short-term investments, and no debt. With so little expected, any good news -- a new product that re-engages consumers or some better-than-expected numbers -- may put some wind back into Fitbit's sails. FIT may turn out to be a great representation of the oscillation between greed and fear that plagues many of us as investors. Clearly, the stock was not worth $50 a share (greed), but at just over $5 a share (fear), you have to wonder. This one is not for the faint of heart, and I am under water so far on this trade, although I kept the initial position small, with the idea of adding opportunistically (or stupidly).

Fogo de Chao Inc. (FOGO) was also on my mind as my wife and I had dinner one night on the Norwegian Breakaway's version of a Brazilian steakhouse, our first visit. That was quite an experience, and not one to undertake if you are not overly hungry. While I've written endlessly about not being a big fan of the restaurant sector these days in light of potential headwinds and stretched valuations, Fogo de Chao is one of the few I have on my radar. At about 14 times 2018 consensus estimates and with profit margins in the high single digits, it is one of the cheaper names out there.

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