Investing

Should Investors Buy These 4 'Bad News' Stocks for Big Gains?

Often when a company presents bad news, it is for a real reason, and it may indeed be a harbinger of worse things to come. Sometimes, though, bad news is misconstrued by Wall Street, and what may very well be a temporary or transitory incident is plugged into the long-term thesis and a good stock goes the wrong way.

A new research report from Jefferies about one large-cap blue-chip tech giant that recently posted some news that Wall Street did not like got us to examine other similar stories that have occurred recently. We found four good examples of blue-chip stocks that got a little tarnished recently for one reason or another that investors may want to reexamine. They are AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV), American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC).

AbbVie

Here is the classic big pharmaceutical stock that was sold because of competition within the marketplace, which may not turn out to be a factor at all. Trading at over $70 last December, the stock bottomed out recently, down almost 20%. After backing out of a deal with Shire PLC (NASDAQ: SHPG) as tax inversion transactions became unworkable, the company shot up to the December highs as arbitrage accounts covered the short positions on the stock.

After the quick rise at the end of the year, the stock was sold off in a big way when Wall Street started to become concerned over lower expectations for the company’s new hepatitis C therapy, Viekira Pak. In reality, the biggest concern was really a price war with competitors. Toss in a $21 billion purchase recently of Pharmacyclics Inc. (NASDAQ: PCYC), and you now have what can be called the return of the risk arbitrage zombies.

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The bottom line is the company has a killer pipeline, and the Jefferies team is very positive on the stock, citing numerous drivers that they dub an “iceberg” of positive catalysts for the stock in 2015 and beyond, especially after the sell-off.

AbbVie investors are paid an outstanding 3.55% dividend. Jefferies has a price target for the Buy-rated stock that is a whopping $80. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $68.64. AbbVie closed Friday at $58.00 a share.

American Express

The company was hit hard when the exclusive deal it had with warehouse retail giant Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) recently ended. In fact, not only did the stock drop almost 17% from highs in January, but many of the top firms on Wall Street cut the ratings they had on the credit card giant. After posting outstanding results on the Fed’s stress test, many of the top firms on Wall Street are reconsidering the recent downgrades, as the share buyback will now be more than expected.

American Express’s 2014 capital plan allowed repurchases of up to $4.4 billion, plus an additional $1.0 billion in the first quarter 2015. The company’s fiscal 2015 plan includes $6.6 billion of stock repurchases from the second quarter through the second quarter 2016. The company is also increasing the dividend paid to shareholders by a sizable 12%.

American Express shareholders are currently paid a 1.3% dividend. Jefferies has the stock rated Hold, with an $85 price target. The consensus target is $87.40, and shares closed Friday at $80.60.

EMC

Shares are trading at an incredibly low 14.5 estimated adjusted 2015 earnings, versus 15.1 for 2014. The company is the leader in storage, and the constant increase in data makes the stock a core holding for technology investors. EMC missed revenue estimates for the fourth quarter and just squeaked by on the bottom line, beating estimates by a penny.

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With the company expected to buy back $3 billion of stock in 2015, and the lower VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) numbers baked into future calculations, now may be a good time to add shares of this outstanding technology stock. EMC owns 80% of the cloud software company, and activist investors have urged a spin-off, which does not seem likely in the near future.

This past week a Wall Street analyst from Wells Fargo was not thrilled with the progress the company is making and said the stock was “dead money.” The analyst argued that until numerous catalysts kick in, the stock will go nowhere. The stock, which already had rolled over to start March, was hammered. This may give investors the best entry point in some time to this quality old-school tech stock.

EMC investors are paid a 1.8% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the Buy-rated tech giant is $31, and consensus target is posted at $30.74. EMC closed Friday at $26 a share.

Intel

This is the stock that got us to looking for the other bad news bears that Wall Street was taking to the woodshed for a beating. The iconic chip giant had a stellar 2014 on the tailwind from continued PC and notebook sales. The stock has underperformed the S&P 500 by a massive 14% year-to-date, and last week the company dramatically lowered estimates for the first quarter, an event that was not altogether unexpected.

The Jefferies team points out that earnings confessions are not that unusual in the chip world, and history suggests buying the confession pays off in semiconductors. They are of the opinion that last week’s announcement is a stellar opportunity for investors to buy a quality stock.

Intel investors are paid an outstanding 3.13% dividend. Jefferies has the stock rated a Buy and dropped the price target slightly from $50 to $48. The consensus target is much lower at $35.75. Shares closed trading on Friday at $30.93.

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It is one thing to try to grab the proverbial falling knife when buying beaten down stock. It is quite another to get the opportunity to buy blue-chip market leaders on the cheap, especially with the stock market still close to all-time highs.

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