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3 great companies at 52-week lows

The wider market has been experiencing something of a sell-off since the end of reporting season, with the ASX dropping roughly 3% in the past two weeks.

While this might be mildly annoying to investors like myself who have made recent purchases, trouble and opportunity are two sides of the same coin and the best investors pay attention to the latter without stressing over the former.

With a number of shares hitting new 52-week lows, today’s article is about two great buying opportunities, and one company that looks like a great opportunity on paper but should probably be avoided for the moment.

Ainsworth Game Technology Limited (ASX: AGI) – last traded at $3.04, down 27% in the past year

I’ve written about the company several times recently after its annual report was released and it’s featured in several 52-week low articles as well.

Despite the publicity Ainsworth has fallen out of favour, with investors overlooking the potential for continued strong earnings growth, foreign currency exposure and potential to expand into untapped markets.

In fact despite falling only 22% for the year, Ainsworth has actually slid more than 50% from prices of $4.50 six months ago.

I covered the company just last week as one of my three greatest value picks on the ASX and recent price drops only reinforce that view.

Having recently purchased Senex Energy Ltd (ASX: SXY) I now own two of the three companies covered in that article, and the third – Ainsworth – is right at the top of my shopping list come next payday.

BC Iron Ltd (ASX: BCI) – last traded at $2.06, down 52.8% in the past year

By now most investors will be aware of the decline in iron ore prices and the negative medium-term outlook for the industry.

However prices have fallen so far – it wasn’t that long ago that BC Iron was at $5.50 – that some companies might start to look attractive.

BC Iron last year paid a dividend worth more than 10% of its share price today.

Based on its stats, it looks like a great opportunity but investors need to remember that iron miners earned much higher prices for their product last year than they have so far in this one.

In fact recent price falls are moving several junior miners very close to break-even point.

BC Iron is still in my opinion the best junior iron miner out there – especially when/if it combines with Iron Ore Holdings Ltd. (ASX: IOH) – but bargain hunters should stay away until the future price direction becomes clearer.

Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) – last traded at $14.59, down 7.4% in the past year

Despite being down overall in the past 52 weeks, Crown went from strength to strength in 2014 with new projects, licenses and several promising discussions regarding developments in future years.

With revenue climbing 6.9% and EBITDA 16.8%, Crown also recorded a Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) figure up 65.7%.

The company chose to keep dividends constant at 28.5 cents or around 2% of its current share price, which was disappointing; however reinvesting possible dividend cash has paid off for Crown in the past and is expected to do so again in the future.

While its dividend is measly, Crown’s unique combination of defensive earnings, long term performance record and attractive growth prospects make it a great share to buy and hold for the long term.

Given the current low interest rate environment, investors are likely to be turned off by Crown’s dividend prospects making it more likely you can pick shares up at a bargain.

While Crown has an enviable long-term growth profile, The Motley Fool’s team of crack analysts has come across another share that’s cheaper, pays bigger dividends and has equal if not better growth and defensive aspects to its business.

While this might sound like an almost impossible combination of traits, as an owner of the share in question I can assure you that they are very real, and better yet this company’s past performance record is equaled only by its future prospects.

As part of our mission to help the world invest better, we’re releasing our special report on this company for free to all interested investors.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares in Senex Energy Ltd.

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