4 Off-the-Radar Analyst Picks Yielding More Than 4%

August 31, 2016 by 247lee

It’s getting harder and harder for investors seeking income, and with interest rates going nowhere substantially until 2018 by some accounts, things are not going to get any easier. Most investors are looking for yields that are at least 4% and have some degree of safety as well. While there are always higher yielding stocks, typically the higher the yield, the higher the risk, and with a pricey market, adding risk at these levels is dicey.

We decided to screen the Merrill Lynch research database for stocks with at least a 4.5% yield, that weren’t horribly overbought and crowded, like the utilities and some real estate investment trusts, that were rated Buy at the firm. Four that may not be on growth and income investors radars came up and looked solid.

CenturyLink

This is the largest of the rural local exchange carriers and is expected to continue get a large dose of government money to provide continuing internet service in rural areas. CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is a global communications, hosting, cloud and IT services company enabling millions of customers to transform their businesses through innovative technology solutions.

CenturyLink offers network and data systems management, Big Data analytics and IT consulting, and it operates more than 55 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia. The company provides broadband, voice, video, data and managed services over a robust 250,000-route-mile U.S. fiber network and a 300,000-route-mile international transport network.

Top Wall Street analysts have liked like the stock over the past year as the company transforms itself from a telecom to a technology company. While some have worried over CenturyLink maintaining the dividend, most are positive on the comparisons for the second half of the year and sequential revenue stability. An update on the data center sale progress and the potential for stocks buybacks are additional positives.

CenturyLink investors receive a gigantic 7.56% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $42, and the Wall Street consensus target is $29.23. The stock closed trading on Tuesday at $28.57.

GlaxoSmithKline

This top global pharmaceutical could offer outstanding total return for investors as solid portfolio holding. GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE: GSK) offers pharmaceutical products in the therapeutic areas, including respiratory, anti-virals, central nervous system, cardiovascular and urogenital, metabolic, anti-bacterials, and emesis, dermatology, rare diseases, immuno-inflammation, vaccines, and HIV. It also provides consumer healthcare products in wellness, oral health, nutrition, and skin health areas.

Last year the company announced that the dividend would stay at its current level through 2017, a solid pledge for those seeking security. Also, the FDA approved the company’s Nucala add-on product for severe asthma with a very broad label. In addition, its ViiV Healthcare unit also reported promising data for its HIV treatments. GlaxoSmithKline plans to submit up to 20 new regulatory filings within the next five years, which confirms a very strong pipeline.

GlaxoSmithKline investors are paid a 5.04% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $50 price target for the stock. The consensus price objective is posted at $48.67. The shares closed Tuesday at $43.36.

Helmerich & Payne

This company primarily operates as a contract drilling company in South America, the Middle East, and Africa. Helmerich & Payne Inc. (NYSE: HP) provides drilling rigs, equipment, personnel and camps on a contract basis to explore for and develop oil and gas from onshore areas and fixed platforms, tension-leg platforms and spars in offshore areas. Its contract drilling business operates through three reportable segments: U.S. Land, Offshore and International Land.

The company posted second-quarter earnings that many felt came in much better than expected. At last report, the company’s U.S. Land rig segment, which is its largest business, had a utilization rate of 31%, compared to 68% this time last year. The International Land operations also saw utilization rates decline to 38%. What is slightly surprising, though, is that the average margin for a rig in use increased between this quarter and the same time last year.

Many top Wall Street analysts feel that the company is one of the best positioned for the U.S. land recovery, and they also cite the strong balance sheet and the sector leading dividend.

Investors are paid a 4.56% dividend. The whopping $72 Merrill Lynch price target compares with the consensus price objective of $59.32 and the most recent close at $61.36.

Westpac Banking

This Australia-based bank is way off the radar for most investors. Westpac Banking Corp. (NYSE: WBK) offers personal banking services, such as term and retirement deposits; savings and bank accounts; home, investment property, equity access, investment and protected equity, personal and car loans; overdraft facilities; and home, contents, landlords, motor, travel, boat, caravan and trailer, life, credit card and loan payment, and income protection insurance products.

The company also provides financial, investment, retirement planning, share market portfolios, super funds and share trading services; emergency cash, online, telephone banking, ATMs, travel center, private banking, financial education, financial advice assistance and foreign exchange historical rates services; and superannuation funds. In addition, it offers business banking services, including farm management deposits; small, commercial and agribusiness loans, as well as equipment finance; merchant services; business and farm insurance; and cash flow management, export and import services and trade finance products.

Westpac shareholders are paid a rich 6.1% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $26.41 and is the only domestic company that appears to cover the stock. The stock closed most recently at $22.37.

These four solid companies are paying dividends above 4.5% and rated Buy at Merrill Lynch. While not suitable for all accounts, they make good sense for growth and income portfolios with a degree of risk tolerance.