STOCKS

In a market that's "priced to perdition," there are still stocks that shine through the darkest of expectations, and this is one of them, asserts Timothy Lutts of Cabot Wealth Advisory.

There’s an old phrase used to express the state of the market when all the news is rosy, all the investors are bullish, and hundreds of stocks are hitting new highs. It’s “Priced to Perfection,” and it’s code for, “Time to Think About Selling.”

Well, I don’t know a similar phrase to describe the opposite condition, so I’m suggesting one today: “Priced to Perdition.” It means all the news is terrible, all the investors are bearish, and very few stocks are hitting new highs.

We’re not exactly there today, but we were definitely there back in late 2008 (2009 was great fun), and I think we were there again in May and June of this year, when Europe was on the brink of disaster. Since then, stocks have strengthened—though they’ve thrown in enough sharp drops along the way to keep investors fearful—and as a result, I’m pretty bullish about the months ahead.

And I’m most bullish, as always, about companies that are growing sales and earnings rapidly, that have revolutionary new technologies and services, and whose charts tell me they’re becoming increasingly well regarded by growing numbers of investors.

One company that fills the bill today is Align Technology (ALGN), a California company that’s revolutionized the orthodontics business.

The core of Align’s business is a computer system that enables the creation of customized clear plastic 3D “aligners” that do the same job as ugly metal braces. These aligners are removable by the user, to enable brushing, flossing, and eating corn-on-the-cob.

They’re effective; the average user goes through a set of 24 over the course of a year that progressively shifts his teeth into the proper position. And of course, they’re patented, which means that everyone who wants to avoid the problems of metal braces has to pay Align Technologies.

The company is well-managed; it’s grown revenues every year of the past decade, and it’s grown earnings every year since 2008. In the most recent quarter, revenues grew 21% to $146 million, and earnings soared 70% to 34 cents per share. And the after-tax profit margin was a robust 19.6%.

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Tickers Mentioned: ALGN

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