Every time it seems safe to go back in the water, oil gets hammered and the stock market dives again. One very good sign is that most of Wall Street is as bearish now as they were in 2009, and after a correction to open the year in January, things are very negative to say the least.
Given the sparsity of good income investment alternatives now, especially with interest rates continuing to plummet, one good alternative for gun-shy investors is conservative stocks that pay big dividends. We screened the Merrill Lynch research database and found four that fit the bill perfectly.
This company will continue to serve customers regardless of where oil trades. It is also on the Merrill Lynch prestigious US 1 stock list. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is the world’s largest provider of pay TV, with TV customers in the United States and 11 Latin American countries.
In the United States, the AT&T wireless network has the nation’s self-described strongest 4G LTE signal and most reliable 4G LTE. The company also helps businesses worldwide serve their customers better with mobility and highly secure cloud solutions. With shares trading at a very cheap 12.5 times estimated 2016 earnings, the company continues to expand its user base, and strong product introductions from smartphone vendors have not only driven traffic, but increased device financing plans.
The company announced recently it is working with Salesforce.com to connect Internet of Things data from AT&T’s solutions into Salesforce’s Customer Success Platform. By connecting AT&T M2X into Salesforce’s Service Cloud, companies can automatically create and route service requests, cases or tickets through pre-built workflows.
While fourth-quarter earnings were in line with forecasts, and slightly below the Merrill Lynch estimates, a change in accounting for the entertainment group lowered revenue/EBITDA by $300 million for the quarter. The analysts note that this knocked $0.03 off the bottom line numbers. So all in all, a solid quarter, and another reason for conservative accounts to own the stock.
AT&T investors receive a huge 5.35% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $40, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $37.24. Shares closed Tuesday at $36.06.
Despite all the recall troubles and litigation issues, hedge funds and mutual funds are continuing to stick with General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), as many view the stock as very undervalued. GM trades just below an incredible 5.4 times estimated 2016 earnings. The company, like Ford, has benefited from incredible sales in China to boost revenue. GM invested heavily in China decades ago and grabbed a big chunk of what is now the world’s largest auto market.
With the company facing continued possible punitive damages over ignition switches, there will continue to be a headline risk cloud over the stock. Long-term patient investors that can look beyond current issues may stand to make outstanding money on the auto giant, especially as oil prices plummet and low gasoline prices continue to push new buyers into showrooms.
GM just reported very solid earnings, and with gas prices staying the lowest in years and GM producing some of the best new models in years, the future for the battered stock looks very good.
Investors receive a 4.92% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $44 price target. The consensus target is lower at $41.13. Shares closed Tuesday at $29.65.