Every quarter many of the top firms we cover on Wall Street come out with some top picks for the next three months, and often these ideas turn out to be solid short-term and long-term plays. With the added volatility that the election has brought in, and the fact that the surprise Trump win has different ramifications for different sectors, now is a good time to add quality stocks in front of what is usually a very good time of the year for equities.
We reported on the Merrill Lynch top U.S. ideas for the fourth quarter when they were released as the quarter was starting. Now with just six weeks left in 2016, we thought it was a good idea to screen the picks for those that looked like solid end-of-the-year plays. We found four that make good sense for investors to consider.
This top company printed an all-time high this time last year, but it was hit hard yesterday and is down a stunning 10% since. American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) is the largest global owner and operator of wireless and broadcast communications towers. Its portfolio includes approximately 100,000 sites in the United States, Latin America, India, Europe and Africa. The core business for the company is leasing space on its wireless towers, primarily to wireless carriers, government agencies and broadband data providers.
The company provided solid third-quarter numbers. The Merrill Lynch analysts noted this when they covered the earnings:
American Tower reported third quarter property (site leasing) revenue of $1,498 million in-line with our $1,498 estimate. We believe the company has positioned itself well to capitalize on growth from the rest of the world.
The company released information last week about its business in light of speculation regarding the possibility of a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile USA. For the quarter ended September 30, 2016, Sprint and T-Mobile USA accounted for approximately 10% and 8%, respectively of American Towers consolidated property revenues.
Investors are paid a 2.14% distribution. The Merrill Lynch target price for the stock is $131, and the Wall Street consensus target is $131.82. The shares closed down over 3% on Monday at $102.57 apiece.
This company also has substantial upside potential and it is also on Merrill Lynch’s US 1 list. Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is a global health care company with numerous core products in a number of primary-care pharmaceutical markets. The company generates revenues from its pharmaceutical product and animal health segments.
The product portfolio includes Zyprexa (for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), Gemzar (pancreatic cancer), Evista (osteoporosis), Cymbalta (depression), Cialis (erectile dysfunction), Strattera (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Erbitux (cancer) and Alimta (chemotherapy). Eli Lilly also has a strong presence in the diabetes market.
The company posted third-quarter sales and earnings well below Wall Street’s expectations, prompting shares to plummet to a four-month low before rebounding. The stock is down almost 10% on the year and offering investors an outstanding entry point. Top analysts on Wall Street are still very focused on the company’s outstanding late-stage product pipeline, which they and others on Wall Street view as very undervalued.
Shareholders are paid a 2.66% dividend. The $105 Merrill Lynch price objective is well above the consensus price target of $97.05. Shares closed Monday at $77.02.