Needless to say, the destruction in the markets since the beginning of the fourth quarter has been painful. The solid firms on Wall Street are rolling up their sleeves and getting their analysts to find the top stocks to buy right now, while the prices have been knocked down, and in some cases, substantially lower. The team at UBS got to work and polled all of their analysts, who came up with 26 stocks, many of which are among the firm’s best current ideas.
We screened the UBS list for the stocks for large cap growth with the best upside. The UBS team remains long-term bullish on the equity markets and have a rolling six month target of 2,100 for the S&P 500, almost 10% higher than current levels. All of the following stocks are rated Outperform at UBS.
AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) announced this week it is recommending that shareholders vote against the merger with Shire Pharmaceuticals, as the changes in the tax inversion laws just don’t make the deal practical. The stock is down from not only the recent sell-off, but very possibly from risk arbitrage funds selling it short. The company has reported much better than expected growth and sales in Humira, one of its top selling drugs. In addition, it has thrown its hat in the ring in the race of oral interferon-free combination therapies for hepatitis C, which could be a huge catalyst for the company in the next few years. It finished up its Phase 3 clinical-trial program for its all-oral hepatitis C drug cocktail. AbbVie’s drugs only have to be taken for 12 weeks in most cases and don’t require peginterferon.
AbbVie investors are paid a very solid 3.07% dividend. The UBS price target for the stock is $67. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is at $67.67. Shares closed trading on Thursday at $52.90.
American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) was a momentum trader’s dream stock until the recent hammer job. The UBS team thinks the company is set to benefit from 3G and 4G network build-outs, densification of growing wireless networks, increasing smartphone consumer penetration and fast growing wireless data usage. Last year the company bought 4,500 wireless sites in Brazil and Mexico from NII Holdings for $811 million. The company is a leading independent owner, operator and developer of wireless and broadcast communications real estate. It currently owns and operates approximately 68,000 communications sites in the United States, Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico and other places.
American Tower investors are paid a 1.56% dividend. UBS is bullish on the tower sector and has a $112 price target on the stock. The consensus target is $107.58. Shares closed Thursday at $92.46.
Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) is a top financial stock to own in the fourth quarter, and the UBS team thinks at current levels, the stock is flat-out cheap on many metrics in the large cap bank arena. They also are bullish on the company’s strong presence in Latin America and China. Investors were also very pleased this week when the bank beat analysts’ revenue estimates and gave a reasonably positive forward-looking statement. The stock still trades well below the highs hit back in January and may offer investors a tremendous entry point.
Citigroup shareholders receive a tiny 0.1% dividend. The UBS price target is $61, and the consensus target is at $59.21. The stock closed Thursday at $49.75.
Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT) is one of the world’s largest and most diversified medical device companies. While the company’s planned acquisition of Ireland-based Covidien was a deal most of Wall Street applauded as a solid fit for both, some have worried it may fall apart. The gigantic $42.9 billion cash and stock purchase announced in June will be subject to the new tax inversion rules, but many on Wall Street, including the UBS team, think there are just too many positive synergies between the two giants for the deal not to be completed.
Medtronic shareholders are paid a 1.9% dividend. We could not find a current UBS price target on the stock, but the consensus target was $73.82. Medtronic closed at $61.81 a share.
Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) could be one of the top stocks that investors can snag on sale. Persistent security threats have damaged the reputations of some top American companies, and most will do anything to protect their data and customer information. Palo Alto is helping to lead a new era in cybersecurity by protecting thousands of enterprise, government and service provider networks from cyber threats, and it boasted a staggering 46% year-over-year billing growth. Unlike fragmented legacy products, its security platform safely enables business operations and delivers protection based on what matters most in today’s dynamic computing environments: applications, users and content.
UBS has a $113 price target, while the consensus is at $110.26. Shares ended trading at $97.88.
Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) dominates the retail coffee business in the United States, and the international growth is helping to boost earnings. In fact, the brand has become so ubiquitous that consumers often just say “Let’s grab a Starbucks.” Despite a pricing point that is higher than others, the company continues to add new items at its stores that have been received well. The UBS team loves the company’s global brand and huge customer awareness. They also point out that growth in China is just starting and could prove to be huge.
Starbucks investors are paid a 1.45% dividend. UBS has a $90 target price, and the consensus target is $90.52. Starbucks closed Thursday at $72.64.
Investors looking for blue chip names on sale have plenty to choose from. It may be smart to continue to scale in capital and buy selectively, as the market volatility may be around for a while.