Merrill Lynch Makes a Huge Change to Prestigious US 1 Portfolio

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AT&T

This stock has had an incredible run this year but is off over 10% in less than a month. 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 has several major catalysts that likely will drive strong network traffic demand: DirecTV Now and Mobile, “Data-Free TV” for DirecTV/U-verse subscribers and increasing penetration of unlimited data plans. Many on Wall Street believe that the company is well-positioned to address ongoing traffic requirements, with additional LTE capacity available and the ability to leverage small cell deployments.

Other top Wall Street analysts have cited the company’s positive commentary on free cash flow, and improving video/broadband trends later this year with single truck-roll and new converged offerings are expected to be coming next month.

AT&T investors receive a 4.63% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $46 price target, and the consensus price objective is at $42.83. Shares closed Tuesday at $41.46.

Eli Lilly

This top company remains a solid large cap pharmaceutical to Buy. Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is a global health care company with numerous core products in a number of primary-care pharmaceutical markets. The company generates revenues from its pharmaceutical product and animal health segments.

The product portfolio includes Zyprexa (for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), Gemzar (pancreatic cancer), Evista (osteoporosis), Cymbalta (depression), Cialis (erectile dysfunction), Strattera (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Erbitux (cancer) and Alimta (chemotherapy). Eli Lilly also has a strong presence in the diabetes market.

Eli Lilly reported mixed second-quarter results that were slightly under consensus and reiterated its full-year guidance. While the overall numbers were unremarkable in some analysts’ views, Merrill Lynch is still very focused on the company’s outstanding late-stage product pipeline, which it views as very undervalued.

Shareholders receive a 2.52% dividend. The $105 Merrill Lynch price target is well above the consensus target of $95.67 and the most recent close at $80.88.

Qualcomm

This is a top technology stock that has done very well this year. Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) is a world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. The company includes the licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Its subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies operates substantially all of Qualcomm’s engineering, research and development functions, as well as substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT.

The growth of 3G mobile technologies in emerging markets, like China and India, has had a positive impact on Qualcomm and could be a difference maker going forward. Qualcomm is and has been for years a market leader in the development of 3G CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technologies. The company recently developed an LTE chipset that supports SCDMA (Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) technology. China’s mobile network runs on this, and it could provide the company with a huge leg up in years to come.

Qualcomm reported third-quarter revenue and earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. Fourth-quarter guidance was also better than expected. In China, new semiconductor products are gaining share and management is making better progress with royalty collections.

Qualcomm investors receive a 3.35% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $68 price objective. The consensus target is at $62.52. Shares closed Tuesday at $63.31.

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While the US 1 list has slightly underperformed the S&P 500 year to date, it has outperformed since inception by a large margin. The stocks are among the highest conviction picks at Merrill Lynch and make good additions to any growth portfolio.