While the market shifts focus to second quarter earnings, many investors are hearing more ominous calls from Wall Street pundits warning of a plunge. Some point to worries about the debt markets having another flash episode. Others note that stocks are simply overpriced. The key for investors wanting to stay long stocks is buying good value.
A new Deutsche Bank research piece highlights the best global stock picks from the firm’s Quantitative Strategy group. We screened for the top U.S. companies to buy now and picked five that have defensive qualities and pay better than average dividends. They are Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Lockheed Martin Inc. (NYSE: LMT) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
This is one of the largest casual dining restaurant operators worldwide, with operations in the United States and Canada and a total of 1,504 restaurants as of August 24, 2014. Darden operates restaurants under the Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House brand names. Management returns much of its free cash to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. With consumers having extra cash to spend as gasoline prices continue to stay low, the stock makes good sense.
Darden shareholders are paid a very respectable 3.2% dividend. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target for the stock is $69.09. The shares closed Monday at $68.60.
One of the top consumer discretionary stocks to buy on Wall Street, Home Depot is coming into the sweet spot of the year for sales. Between the spring cleaning activity and the increase in Americans once again searching for a new home, the time is ripe for investors looking to own a top retail stock. Home Depot is also becoming a darling of some quantitative hedge funds, as some see the stock as way undervalued on an intrinsic basis.
In addition to the company’s already huge domestic presence, some Wall Street analysts have pointed to the recent troubles at Sears Holdings and Lumber Liquidators as even more solid impetus for the home improvement giant. They also note that merger and acquisition targets may be on the company’s radar.
Home Depot investors are paid a 2.06% dividend. Deutsche Bank puts a $108 price target on the stock, while the consensus target is $123.77. The stock closed most recently at $114.44.
This is one of the nation’s top retailers, and analysts at numerous Wall Street firms have applauded the great strides it is making in improving its online sales ability. The renewed online effort helped to boost what was a very solid showing for last year’s holiday season. Many Wall Street analysts also feel that the company’s mid-teens earnings-per-share growth profile over the next several years is achievable, driven by low single digit same-store sales growth, e-commerce and improvements in store productivity.
Macy’s investors are paid a 1.8% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price target is posted at $71, and the consensus target is $68.78. The stock closed Monday at $69.15.
Lockheed Martin is a top aerospace and defense stock to buy, and many on Wall Street are expecting a very solid continuation of U.S. and foreign defense spending. Employing 112,000, Lockheed Martin engages in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of technology systems, products and services. It also provides management, engineering, technical, scientific, logistics and information services. Its Aeronautics segment offers combat and air mobility aircraft, unmanned air vehicles and related technologies.
The company has also developed a supersonic T-50 trainer in conjunction with Korea Aerospace Industries, which is also reported to be considering a clean-sheet design. The T-50 entered service in 2002 and likely has the inside track for the new Air Force trainer without a clean-sheet design.
Lockheed Martin investors are paid a very solid 3.05% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price target is $220, while the consensus estimate is $208.60. The stock closed at $197.05.
This top telecommunications company offers investors consistent and steadily growing dividends. The company recently purchased $10.4 billion worth of new spectrum during the first-quarter government auctions, and it is planning to continue to expand and improve its 4G LTE network, which it bills as the nation’s largest.
Verizon investors are paid an outstanding 4.5% dividend. The consensus price target for the wireless giant is $51.54. The stock closed Monday at $49.04 a share.
While Darden and Verizon make the quantitative research list of stocks to buy, they are not currently covered by the firm. They are all outstanding, defensive stocks that make good sense in an expensive market, especially when investors factor in the very strong and consistent dividends that they pay.