The higher the market goes, and the more that volatility starts to play a part of the action, the more conservative investors want to move out of any high beta stocks. With a potential for a large market correction always looming, the time to do some portfolio due diligence is now. A new research report from Merrill Lynch acknowledges that many investors prefer a consistent strategy that focuses on higher-quality investments. The firm’s High Quality and Dividend Yield stocks are just the ticket for more conservative stock investors.
While the High Quality and Dividend Yield stocks have underperformed the overall market so far this year, they tend outperform during times of market duress. Since the portfolio’s inception in 2004, it has out outperformed the S&P 500 total return index. With a long running bull getting tired, and the market very pricey, these stocks make good sense to rotate to now.
We picked four with among the highest dividend yields and upside potential. All are rated Buy at Merrill Lynch.
Automatic Data Processing
This conservative information technology company that makes the list. Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NASDAQ: ADP) is one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing and human capital management solutions. ADP offers a wide range of human resource, payroll, talent management, and tax and benefits administration solutions from a single source, and it helps clients comply with regulatory and legislative changes, such as the Affordable Care Act.
The company posed very solid fiscal third-quarter earnings that beat consensus estimates, and the guidance for the balance of fiscal year 2015 was raised to the high end. With the economy poised to strengthen, this is a solid stock to buy.
ADP investors are paid a 2.35% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $95. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is much lower at $85.13. The stock closed Friday at $83.85.