One of the most lucrative, if challenging, endeavors in the stock market is searching for stocks to buy that have fallen but are ready to take off to new highs.
The good news: It can be done - and deliver returns like you've never seen.
I like to call them "turnaround stocks."
The typical turnaround stock has stumbled badly, with the share price punished severely for overblown media mishaps or trouble in the sector.
That's why finding turnaround stocks to buy is not for everybody. These stocks can be volatile in the short run.
But the long-term returns for willing investors often can be nothing short of spectacular. The key is a portfolio that can handle volatility and an investor with patience for the stock to climb high again.
There are a handful of potential turnaround stock candidates I've spied in the market today, like these two examples...
Turnaround Stocks to Buy Now
One such candidate right now is Atlantic Power Corp. (NYSE: AT).
The company has seen its stock slashed this year from more than $10 a share to less than $5. A weak economy and high leverage forced the company to cut its dividend by more than 60%. AT fell off a cliff after the payout cut announcement on Feb. 28, slipping 40.7% by Mar. 4.
But the reason this is a potential turnaround stock to buy is that this company appears to have the means to weather the storm and get back on a profitable track long term.
AT has a strong collection of electric power generation assets, with 29 plants capable of producing more than 2000 megawatts of electricity. The majority of its plants produce clean energy using solar, wind, biofuels, and natural gas to produce power. All of the plants are located in major markets across the United States and Canada.
The company is focusing on paying down its debt load to reduce the chance of future financial problems. In the last quarter it paid down more than $170 million of long-term debt and is looking to sell non-core assets to further reduce indebtedness. Even after cutting the dividend, the shares still yield more than 8% at the current price. Atlantic Power shares sell for about one-half of book value and appear to have substantial recovery potential over the next few years.
Patient investors could easily see the stock double back to where it was before the dividend cut.
This next potential turnaround stock to buy has ties to the lucrative oil and gas industry...
I'm talking about ION Geophysical Corp. (NYSE: IO).
The company provides advanced seismic acquisition equipment, software, seismic data-processing services, and seismic data libraries to the global oil and gas industry. These are used by exploration and production companies to generate high-resolution images of the Earth's subsurface during exploration, exploitation, and production operations.
This is a business that should see strong growth in the years ahead as oil and gas companies scramble to boost production to meet increasing demand.
The short term has been a little more difficult for this company. The stock price has been punished for missing Wall Street's earnings forecasts. Now shares have slipped more than 25% in the last few months.
In spite of the short-term difficulties, the company has exposure to what will be the fastest-growing segments of the energy exploration industry.
With 20 locations around the world, ION is providing data for companies looking for oil and gas below the oceans, in the Arctic, and in the unconventional fields in the United States. The company also just added several data libraries, including portions of the Arctic, Latin America, Africa, and Australia, that should see strong demand and improve the top and bottom line.
Increased exploration and production activity in the Gulf of Mexico should also help the company regain footing in 2014. Analysts expect earnings to double next year and grow more than 15% annually for the next five years.
If they are close to right, this stock has the potential to soar as oil and gas demand picks up.
Turnaround stocks might not be for you - so check out these other seven ways to play the oil and gas industry today.