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4 stocks under $10 on the move up

Investing doesn’t have to be expensive to start out. Sometimes it’s best to put only a little money into an investment to test the waters and see if the company performs as you think it should. If nothing else, starting a position in a stock focuses your attention on it because now it is real money.

Here are four stocks under $10 a share that are making moves right now and into 2014.

Alumina Limited (ASX: AWC) owns a 40% interest in Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals (AWAC), a subsidiary of US aluminium giant Alcoa Inc (NYSE: AA). It has risen about 25% since 16 December, up from about $1 per share to $1.25.

Aluminium spot prices are down from the 2011 high of US$1.20/pound to about US$0.80, but the market is finding support there. Due to its interest in AWAC, Alumina received a fourth fully franked dividend of US$25 million and distributions of US$3 million during the fourth quarter. The total of dividends and distributions received during 2013 was US$107 million.

Cooper Energy Ltd. (ASX: COE), an oil and gas explorer and producer in the Cooper-Eromanga Basin, reported sales revenue for the September quarter were $18.4 million, up 58% more than the previous corresponding period.

It is also seeing higher oil production from its Indonesian wells, which increased by 74% to 16,241 barrels of oil equivalent for the quarter. Its main producing wells in the Cooper Basin saw an increase to 129,429 barrels. The company expects full-year production between 540,000 – 580,000 barrels.

APA Group (ASX: APA) came to an agreement with Envestra Limited (ASX: ENV) in which it will buy the remaining shares that APA doesn’t already own for $1.17 a share. The proposal is still subject to a shareholder vote, but the independent board committee is in majority agreement with it.

The companies are involved in gas transmission and distribution. APA is a $5.1 billion company, and Envestra is $2.1 billion. This comes at a time when the LNG export industry will be starting to ship overseas in 2015, and major oil and gas companies like Santos Limited (ASX: STO) and Origin Energy Limited (ASX: ORG) are developing more production.

Unilife Corporation (ASX: UNS) is a developer and producer of injectable drug delivery systems that has made promising moves recently by entering into an agreement with Hikma, a multinational pharmaceutical company, to supply its products for 15 years. US$40 million in upfront and milestone payments will be made.

In addition, it will also be supplying Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, its clinical products for use with one of Novartis’ targeted early-stage pipeline drugs. As more drug companies like Novartis begin to use Unilife’s products, the company has more opportunities to become “entwined” with their drug development and distribution.

Foolish takeaway

Spending an hour a week following each company you are invested in may be one of the best investments of time and effort that you will make. Go back a year or two in their annual reports to see what they planned to do at that time, and what the results were. This will also give you insight into the abilities of management apart from the general business performance.

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Motley Fool contributor Darryl Daté-Shappard does not own shares in any company mentioned.