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Two Sub-$10 Stocks That Could Graduate to Double-Digits

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It is worth revisiting the theme that price alone is not the true determinant of a stock's total value.

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Editor's Note: This content was originally published on Benzinga.com by Gordon Wilcox.

Revisiting the theme that price alone is not the true determinant of a stock's total value is a task worth repeating from time-to-time, even more so when investors find themselves seduced by the temptation of volatile single-digit stocks.

The temptation is easy to understand. After all, $10,000 in capital buys a lot more shares of an $8 stock than an $80 stock. Of course, it is this conventional way of thinking that has plagued so many investors in the past when it comes to single-digit stocks.

Still, not all single-digit stocks are afflicted with that condition forever. Many have the potential to graduate to $10 and beyond. Here are some candidates to make that move in 2013, though in a couple of examples while $10 may be a real possibility, how long the stock stays there is up for debate.

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR): Like many coal stocks, Alpha Natural spent the bulk of 2012 plunging. With just a few trading days left in the year, the stock is down 54.5%. The primary catalyst behind Alpha Natural's 2012 woes has been thermal coal demand or lack thereof. Thermal coal is the coal variety used by electric utilities, but with natural gas prices depressed, utilities have turned to cheaper, cleaner gas as an alternative.

Slack thermal coal demand prompted Alpha Natural to announce significant production reductions in the third quarter. Investors may remember that Alpha Natural acquired Massey Energy to increase its exposure to metallurgical coal, the coal grade used in the the production of steel.

That move has not worked out so well, at least not yet, because metallurgical coal demand by emerging markets consumers has waned, forcing prices lower. Weak metallurgical coal demand is also one reason why Standard & Poor's recently lowered Alpha Natural's credit rating to BB- from B+. That downgrade takes the company deeper into junk territory.

All of this may imply that Alpha Natural is a stock to stay away from. However, the shares have jumped 29.4% in the past month. Additionally, Alpha Natural is positioned to take advantage of any significant increase in natural gas prices because that would force utilities back to thermal coal. Or the Chinese and Indian economies could rebound enough to jolt metallurgical coal prices. With a beta of 1.68 and the shares flirting with $9.30, Alpha Natural could easily hit $10 in the near-term. Bullish economic data points out of China could carry the stock even higher.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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