Investing

4 Jefferies Franchise Picks With Big Dividends Are Solid Q2 Buys

The markets finally fought their way back to break-even and above as the quarter ended, and now all investor eyes will be trained on first-quarter earnings results. While some of the pre-announcements were dreadful, most of them have long since been factored in, and with interest rates still very low, investors looking to add capital should still focus on top dividend-paying stocks.

We screened the Jefferies Franchise Picks list of top stocks to buy for the solid growth companies that also pay outstanding dividends. The Jefferies team has done a good job this year of picking winners, and the Franchise Picks for the most part have performed well. We found four stocks rated Buy that fit in almost all growth portfolios.

AT&T

This company will continue to serve customers regardless of outside influences and still makes good sense despite a solid 2016 run so far. 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.

Fourth-quarter earnings were in line with forecasts. A change in accounting for the entertainment group lowered revenue/EBITDA by $300 million for the quarter. The analysts note that this knocked three cents off the per-share bottom line numbers. All in all, a solid quarter, and another reason for conservative accounts to own the stock, especially with solid DirecTV additions and mid-single-digit earnings growth estimated for 2016.

AT&T has been focusing on the IP VPN and Ethernet services. This outstanding business model, along with the decline of Verizon’s market share in the arena, has helped the company to meaningfully grow its revenues from strategic business services. Apart from taking appropriate technical measures, the company has collaborated with big cloud service providers like Amazon Web Service and data center operators to provide Ethernet connections.

AT&T investors receive a 5.17% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $40, and the Thomson/First Call consensus estimate is $38.41. Shares closed Friday at $39.05.


AbbVie

This is the top global pharmaceutical stock at Jefferies. AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. AbbVie markets medicines in more than 170 countries

One of the biggest concerns with AbbVie is what eventually might happen with anti-inflammatory therapy Humira, which generated $14 billion in sales in fiscal 2015. That is the most any drug has recorded during a single year and represents a gigantic part of the company’s overall earnings. The problem is that biosimilars and generics are itching to enter the market with Amgen leading the charge. Some Wall Street analysts project that AbbVie may have a difficult time stopping that trend.

Jefferies has become much more positive on the stock and feels that the company’s response to Coherus Inter Partes Review (IPR) on key Humira patents looks solid and an IPR denial is a very real possibility.

Back in January, AbbVie gave sales guidance that calls for Humira sales to climb, rather than shrink, to $18 billion by 2020. If the management is right, then AbbVie still has time to build momentum for other drugs that can offset any future impact from biosimilars. Again, many on Wall Street feel they could not challenge the strong AbbVie patents.

AbbVie investors receive a 4% dividend. The $80 Jefferies price target is among the highest on Wall Street. The consensus target is $71.35, and shares closed Friday at $57.42.

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