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Ugly Radio Shack Has Beautiful Bones

Stocks in this article: RSH

Editor's note: Jim Cramer told viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show on Tuesday that Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) and Potash (POT) are two ugly ducklings set to become beautiful swans. Here's another stock with those same characteristics.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and as a value investor, I sometimes take positions in names that appear downright ugly to many investors. I will buy the "ugly ducklings" because I sometimes see what others don't.

On the other hand, sometimes others don't see what I do, because it's all a mirage, and my investment thesis is just plain wrong. But that's par for the course, at times, and the hope is that you are right more often than you are wrong.

This strategy is not always about buying names that have fallen on hard times, but have bright futures. It's often about buying names that have been so beaten down, that their prices have fallen well below the value of their ugliness. If they have a future, well, it may not be that bright. But the market believes that there is no future, and prices the stock accordingly.

I can think of no better example than RadioShack (RSH), which had been all but written off last December, as the stock price dipped below $2. Here was an antiquated retailer (strike one), in the retail electronics business (strike two), with falling revenue, declining margins and substantial debt (strike three, four and five). There was little to like, given the numerous retailer troubles we've seen in recent years, especially in the electronics space.

RSH Chart RSH data by YCharts

I resisted RSH for quite a while as the stock price continued to decline, and the dividend grew fatter; a dividend that I knew needed to be eliminated, which it was. Finally, when the stock became a net/net (trading below net current asset value), I started taking a position, and have added along the way as the price fell further.

The good news is that RSH has been a big winner so far this year, and is up 69% year to date, and that includes a 15% pullback since mid-May. The stock is still universally disliked, however, and certainly not out of the woods. But there have been some positive changes in recent months, including a new CEO, Joe Magnacca, who had success at drugstore chain Duane Reade, prior to becoming an executive VP at Walgreens (WAG).

After joining the company in February, Magnacca gave himself 100 days to put together a revival plan to present to the board of directors. The company also ended a mobile phone partnership with Target, which ended up being a low-margin disaster for RSH.

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