Oil Services Giant Added to Jefferies Franchise Picks Portfolio

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With earnings reporting for the second quarter underway, along with the second half of 2016, many of the top companies we follow on Wall Street are making some changes to the lists of their high conviction stock picks for clients. With the market bursting through to new all-time highs, it makes sense to examine the lists and make some changes as the rest of the year could have additional volatility as the political cycle could prove to be a very market-moving component.

In a recent research note, the analysts at Jefferies make a big move by adding an oil services industry leader to the firm’s well-respected Franchise Picks list of stocks to Buy.

Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) has ticked higher since the deal with Baker Hughes fell through due to regulators concerns, but is still done almost 50% from highs printed two years ago. So Jefferies has added the stock to the Franchise Picks portfolio. The company is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. The company serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the life cycle of the reservoir, from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

The oil field giant announced last year a $1 billion investment to develop huge potential oil fields in Ecuador and it has entered into a long-time deal with Petroamazonas, an Ecuador-based company involved in the exploration and development of the country’s oil reserves. With the price of oil being absolutely demolished over the past year, this top oil service company is a great stock to buy on sale, as the oil recovery has shown some legs.

Top Wall Street analysts see the end of the Baker Hughes deal as removing uncertainty on the company, and they also think that the company still has acquisition possibilities, which could help expand the business footprint.

Halliburton investors are paid a 1.56% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock $56 and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is just $46.03. The shares closed Tuesday at $45.03.

In addition, here are the three highest yielding stocks in the group currently in the portfolio.

AT&T

After an outstanding first quarter from a stock price standpoint, this stock could be poised to go higher. 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 its shares trading at a very cheap 14.3 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.

AT&T investors are paid a huge 4.53% dividend. Jefferies has a $44 price target for the stock, and the consensus target price is at $39.91. Shares closed Tuesday at $42.41.

Boeing

This top aerospace industrial is still down over 10% since the beginning of the year. Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, sells, services and supports commercial jetliners, military aircraft, satellites, missile defense, human space flight and launch systems and services worldwide. The company operates in five segments: Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Military Aircraft, Network & Space Systems, Global Services & Support and Boeing Capital.

Top Wall Street analysts have increased confidence in continuing good demand, and they note that the company has made announcements in the past that support the thesis that the productivity and margins will continue to improve. 787 execution is good as the company works through the backlog, and cash flow looks to be strong with 787 deliveries and C-17 orders. Some Wall Street analysts also point to continued lower oil prices as a bullish indicator for the top carriers who are Boeing’s big customers.

Boeing investors receive a 3.33% dividend. The $165 Jefferies price target is higher than the consensus target of $148.28. The shares closed trading on Tuesday at $130.81.

WestRock

Last summer saw the merger of two top packaging and container companies, and that could provide an outstanding opportunity for investors, as the stock has been absolutely mauled since the merger. WestRock Co. (NYSE: WRK) is the completed and merged entity that combined old Rock-Tenn and MeadWestvaco.

WestRock has become the second-largest U.S. packaging company, valued at $10.7 billion, trailing only International Paper and its market capitalization of just under $15 billion. WestRock is expected to generate net sales of $15.7 billion and adjusted EBITDA of $2.9 billion. This includes the impact of $300 million in estimated annual synergies, to be achieved over three years.

Jefferies notes that the company announced a stock repurchase program last year of 40 million shares, which is equal to 15% of the shares outstanding. It also announced a very generous 17% increase in the company dividend. The current dividend will be $1.50 per share, or $0.375 per quarter.

WestRock trades with a more than 10% free-cash-flow yield, and owing to demand resiliency and lower spending, the Jefferies team believes cash flow can hold up even in a tougher economic environment. They also think that the stock could continue its march off lows printed back in February if container-board prices hold.

WestRock investors will receive a very tempting 3.77% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $56. The consensus target is set at $70.56. Shares closed Tuesday at $39.74.

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While it looks like the stress from the Brexit vote is long gone, other factors like the political conventions and earnings season could ratchet volatility right back up. Solid dividend paying stocks make sense for the latter half of this year.