Investing

Half of the Dow Jones Rally Just 3 Stocks: These 4 Blue Chips Better Buys Now

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It has been a huge move for the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average since the election of Donald Trump. The index is up a staggering 1,200 points plus since the election, and the thing many don’t realize is that three stocks have accounted for over half of the move. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), UnitedHealth Inc. (NYSE: UNH) and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) are responsible for over half of the gains since November 8. The higher dollar price is a big factor, and the fact that all three appear as potential benefactors of a Trump win.

For investors looking to chase these stocks, one important thing to remember is that when the rally backs up some, these three could also come down the hardest. We screened the Merrill Lynch research universe for Dow Jones members that pay dividends, are rated Buy and haven’t had the huge run some of the others have. We found four that look very good now.

Coca-Cola

This company remains a top Warren Buffet holding and offers not only safety, but an incredible strong worldwide brand. Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands.

Led by Coca-Cola, its portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade and Minute Maid. Globally, it is the top provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy its beverages at a rate of more than 1.9 billion servings a day.

The company reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates but blamed strong international headwinds and political uncertainty for lower revenue. Though net sales in the quarter fell 7% from a year earlier, they were higher than Wall Street estimate, helped by higher prices for sodas and a strong demand for water and sports drinks in North America. This did make seven-straight quarters that earnings surpassed Wall Street’s expectations.

It’s important to remember though that the company own 31.5% of Monster Beverage, which continues to deliver big numbers.

The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $50, while the Wall Street consensus figure is listed at $46.72. The stock closed Monday at $40.62 a share.

General Electric

This iconic blue chip industrial has been on a strong roll since the election, but it is still trading below highs hit last summer. General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is a highly diversified, global industrial corporation. Its businesses are organized broadly under six segments: GE Capital, Energy Infrastructure, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation and Home & Business Solutions. Its products and services include power generation equipment, aircraft engines, locomotives, medical equipment, appliances, commercial leasing and personal finance.

The company recently announced a huge deal to combine GE’s Oil & Gas business and Baker Hughes to create a leader in oil and gas equipment, technology and services. It will have $32 billion in revenue and can leverage GE’s digital and technology expertise and Baker Hughes domain knowledge, capabilities and presence in oilfield services.

Most on Wall Street are very positive on this deal, which comes on the heels of a failed attempt by Halliburton to buy Baker Hughes. The UBS analysts note that the merger brings what they term as “pure play value, synergies, digital opportunities, perhaps most importantly, earnings accretion.”

GE investors are paid a very solid 2.96% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $37 price objective for the stock, and the consensus target price is $32.46. Shares closed most recently at $31.11.

Intel

This leader in semiconductors is working hard to scale away from dependence on personal computers. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) designs, manufactures and sells integrated digital technology platforms worldwide. The company’s platforms are used in various computing applications comprising notebooks, two-in-one systems, desktops, servers, tablets, smartphones, wireless and wired connectivity products, wearables, retail devices and manufacturing devices, as well as for retail, transportation, industrial, buildings, home use and other market segments.

The company also provides communication and connectivity offerings, such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers and power management integrated circuits, and tablet, phone and Internet of Things solutions, which include multimode 4G LTE modems, Bluetooth technology and GPS receivers, software solutions and interoperability tests, as well as home gateway and set-top box components.

Intel reported inline third quarter, but data center sales came in way below expectations for the tech giant. A stunning 82.4% of Intel sales come from overseas, the lion’s share of it in Asia, where the chips that it produces are used in personal computers, tablets and other personal electronic devices. Fears of trade issues with China have taken a toll on the stock, and the timing looks good.

Intel investors are paid a 3.02% dividend. The $42 Merrill Lynch price target compares with the consensus target of $39.82. The shares closed Monday at $34.39.

Home Depot

This company remains the undisputed leader in the home improvement retail category. Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,270 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico.

Home Depot stores sell various building materials, home improvement products, and lawn and garden products, as well as provide installation, home maintenance and professional service programs to do-it-yourself (DIY), do-it-for-me (DIFM) and professional customers.

Home Depot could also be a benefactor from the damage done in Florida and along the Southeast coast recently from Hurricane Matthew. Toss in the huge rebuilding efforts in Louisiana after the severe flooding there, and the third and fourth quarter results could indeed be a bonanza for the company and investors.

Home Depot investors receive a 2.13% dividend, The Merrill Lynch price target is posted at $158, while the consensus price objective is $146.73. Shares closed Monday at $129.68.

While these four blue chip stock may not offer the outsized gains of the companies that led the Dow higher, they all pay solid dividends and have very respectable upside potential to the Merrill Lynch price targets. They also may be better risk-reward holdings for more conservative investors.

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