4 Merrill Lynch Top Q1 Ideas Still Have Big Upside and Pay Dividends

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With half of the first quarter over, it’s time to check out some of the firms we cover and their actionable ideas. While the market has pressed higher, there is starting to be some concern that we are overbought and ripe for a pullback. With mutual funds getting their first positive inflows in a year, that could be a sign that the usual late-to-the-table retail investors are coming in, so caution makes sense.

Merrill Lynch’s first-quarter ideas for the most part have acted very well, and we found some that have good upward trend action and two that were sold-off and may be offering great entry points. All are rated Buy and pay solid dividends.


This company flies under the radar of many investors and is a very solid buy at current trading levels. Dover Corp. (NYSE: DOV) is also on the Merrill Lynch US 1 list. The company manufactures and sells a range of equipment and components, specialty systems and support services in the United States and internationally. It operates in four segments.

The Energy segment provides solutions and services for the production and processing of oil, natural gas liquids and gas to drilling and production, bearings and compression, and automation end markets. The Engineered Systems segment offers precision marking and coding, digital textile, soldering and dispensing equipment, and related consumables and services, as well as automation components,

The Fluids segment focuses on the safe handling of critical fluids across the retail fueling, chemical, hygienic and industrial markets. It also manufactures connectors for use in various bio-processing applications, as well as displacement and centrifugal pumps for demanding and specialized fluid transfer process applications.

Lastly, the Refrigeration & Food Equipment segment provides refrigeration systems, refrigeration display cases, specialty glass, commercial glass refrigerator and freezer doors, and brazed heat exchangers.

Shareholders receive a 2.2% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $90, and the Wall Street consensus target is $82.78. The stock closed last Friday at $79.94.


This top mid/large-cap pick is down a stunning 38% since highs printed in 2014. Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) is an exploration and production company that develops, produces, purchases, transports and sells crude oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas. It primarily operates in the United States, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, the Joint Development Area of Malaysia/Thailand, Malaysia and Norway.

Hess is continuing a transition away from being an integrated oil and gas company to a predominantly exploration and production entity. The company is shifting its growth approach from high-impact exploration to a smaller, more focused exploration portfolio.

The stock has traded down since the beginning of the year and now offers investors the best entry point in some time. The analysts noted this in a recent research note:

Greater disclosure around 2017 production trajectory points to a faster acceleration heading into 2018. By our estimates, 2018 outlook could benefit from approximately $1 billion of free cash flow from North Malay & Stampede. We continue to view the company as one of the most catalyst rich names in the sector given its ongoing Guyana exploration.

Hess investors receive a 1.95% dividend. The $80 Merrill Lynch price objective is well above the consensus target of $65.71. The stock closed Friday at $51.75.

MGM Resorts International

This old-school company combines a very strong presence in Las Vegas with growing clout in Macau. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) owns or operates casino resorts in the United States and China that offer gaming, hotel, convention, dining, entertainment, retail and other resort amenities.

MGM’s casino operations include various slots, table games and race and sports book wagering. The company operates 12 wholly owned resorts in the United States and MGM Macau resort and casino in China, as well as develops an integrated casino, hotel and entertainment resort on the Cotai Strip, Macau.

The company reported disappointing fourth-quarter results after a year of solid execution, and the stock got hit pretty hard. While the analysts lowered EBITDA by 5% on smaller margins, as well as the delay in Cotai, they maintain that the investment thesis remains intact, and the positive outlook on supply and demand in Las Vegas and overall revenue remain unchanged.

MGM shareholders receive a 1.65% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $33 price target, but the consensus target is $34.28, The shares closed last Friday at $26.60.

Texas Instruments

This old-school chip tech company has come back into favor big-time. Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) is a broad-based supplier of semiconductor components, ranging from digital signal processors and high-performance analog components to digital light-processing technology and calculators. Some 65% of the company’s sales are exposed to the well-diversified, business-to-business industrial, automotive, communications infrastructure and enterprise markets.

The company released solid fourth-quarter 2016 results that topped the consensus forecast. Merrill Lynch also sees a potential 15% to 22% earnings upside potential if the company’s corporate tax rate should drop to the Trump administration proposed 15% to 20% level.

Investors receive a 2.56% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $92. The consensus target is $81.46, and shares closed on Friday at $76.44.

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Two stocks on a continued roll and two offering outstanding entry points. All four make good sense for growth portfolios that have a degree of risk tolerance.