Credit Suisse Specialty Finance Stocks to Buy With Strong Upside Potential

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As the economy slowly improves, the one thing that American citizens and businesses have done much better than their counterparts around the world is lower levels of debt. When debt service requires less cash flow from earnings, or in the case of businesses revenues, the stage is set for spending to pick up. That is what helps to give a tailwind to an economy that has been bogged down for years.

At Credit Suisse, specialty finance analyst Moshe Orenbuch feels that the third quarter has been an eventful time for the sector. While credit standards appear to have held up well, delinquency rates have bottomed and are increasing, so loss rates will likely rise. With that in mind, he sticks with the industry leaders as resilient GDP growth and stronger consumers can drive credit growth.

Here are the four specialty finance stocks to buy now at Credit Suisse. All are rated Outperform.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is top pick in specialty financials at Credit Suisse, and it may have some outstanding earnings on tap after what should be a very solid 2014. For 2015, many Wall Street firms are forecasting credit card loan growth up 5%, year-over-year to $60.7 billion and total loan growth up 5% year-over-year to $76.8 billion. A continued strong share repurchase program is also expected.

Discover Financial investors are paid a 1.5% dividend. Credit Suisse has a $71 price target for the stock. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is $70.71. The stock closed Monday at $64.93 a share.

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MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) concluded its massive 10-for-one stock split at the start of this year, and finally the average investor had a shot at owning some shares again. The company has been plowing through a $3.5 billion share buyback, which has kept a nice floor under the stock all year. While the Credit Suisse analysts have kept a sharp eye on volume loss from MasterCard after losing the contract it had with J.P. Morgan Chase, the drop-off appears to be negligible after almost a year.

Investors in MasterCard still only receive a small 0.6% dividend. The Credit Suisse price target is $94, and the consensus target is lower at $89.02. MasterCard closed Monday at $74.51.

SLM Corp. (NYSE: SLM) is a stock for investors looking for a more contrarian play in the specialty finance arena. After the company’s recent spin-off into separate entity, SLM is primarily focusing on the growing consumer banking business, offering private education loans, as well as saving and insurance products for higher education. Many on Wall Street believe the gradual economic recovery and declining unemployment rate should further enhance the prospects of its consumer banking business.

The Credit Suisse price target for the stock is $11. The consensus target is $10.63, and shares closed trading on Monday at $8.89.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is one of the top stocks to buy at Credit Suisse. The analysts feel that the company is the best positioned to provide the necessary large-scale security for omnichannel payments, which they believe will become a larger talking point with investors. Given recent security concerns, that makes very good sense. The company is returning almost 95% of free cash flow to shareholders via dividends and stock buybacks.

Investors are paid a small 0.75% dividend. The Credit Suisse price target for this leading credit card company, that also is poised to see benefits from the new Apple Pay platform, is $250. The consensus figure is set at $249.81. Shares closed on Monday at $211.79.

ALSO READ: 5 High-Yielding UBS Dividend Ruler Stocks to Buy for Rest of 2014

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, and consumers feeling much better about their overall financial health, theses top specialty finance companies may be poised for an outstanding fourth quarter.