Every day it seems like we see the markets making new all-time highs. For old-timers, who have seen their fair share of market sell-offs and bear markets, the current action is somewhat nerve-wracking. About the only thing needed to secure a big correction is some high-level market pundit saying the one thing that almost guarantees a sell-off: “It’s different this time.”
While a huge plunge may not be imminent, and there are reasons to stay in the stock market as Treasury and corporate bonds are way overbought, and yields are still close to generational lows, the biggest question may be if there are any good buys left.
We decided to screen the 30 stocks that make up the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average, looking for value. We found four top blue chips that are all down for 2017, and may be excellent contrarian buys.
This top Wall Street energy pick is still down over 15% in 2017. Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania. It also manufactures and markets commodity petrochemicals, including olefins, aromatics, polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, and specialty products, and it transports and sells crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products.
The company posted some messy second-quarter results, and Merrill Lynch feels the stock is still an outstanding place for investors to put money now. The team also cites the ability of the company to maintain and cover the cash dividend at lower oil prices as a key positive, and a recent report said this:
Management could do a better job of highlighting unusual items; on review the second quarter met consensus in contrast with a perceived miss. Analysis of operating cash flow suggests Exxon had a second quarter cash break-even of $35 although capex is running 33% below guidance. With $2 billion of free cash in the second quarter before working capital, the company remains a low risk strategic route to reweighting energy portfolios.
Shareholders receive a 3.74% dividend. Merrill Lynch rates the stock a Buy and has a price objective is $90. The Wall Street consensus target of $82.79 is near the most recent close at $82.43 a share.
This iconic blue chip industrial has been a huge laggard in 2017 and is offering a very solid entry point. 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.
Earlier this year the company completed a huge deal to combine its Oil & Gas business and Baker Hughes to create a leader in oil and gas equipment, technology and services with $32 billion in revenue. The analysts feel the new company can leverage GE’s digital and technology expertise and the domain knowledge, capabilities and presence of Baker Hughes in oilfield services.
GE investors receive a 4.16% dividend. The stock is rated Buy at UBS, which has a price objective of $31. The consensus target price is 29.31. Shares closed Thursday at $23.05, down a staggering 22.5% this year.
This blue chip leader has been crushed and may be offering investors the best entry point in years. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is a leading provider of enterprise solutions, offering a broad portfolio of information technology (IT) hardware, business and IT services, and a full suite of software solutions. The company integrates its hardware products with its software and services offerings in order to provide high-value solutions.
Five major segments comprise IBM: 1) Cognitive Solutions, 2) Global Business Services, 3) Technology Services & Cloud Platforms, 4) Systems and 5) Global Financing. Analysts cite the company’s potential in the public cloud as a reason for raising price objectives.
Still down over 13% in 2017, IBM offers investors the safety of a mega-cap giant and a large presence in technology, which continues to be a favored sector on Wall Street.
Shareholders receive a 4.08% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $200 price target rates the stock a Buy. The consensus target is $165.07, and shares closed Thursday at $147.03.
This top telecommunications stock was the worst performing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average for much of this year. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is a global leader in delivering the digital world. Verizon Wireless operates America’s self-described most reliable wireless network, with 109.5 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and it delivers integrated business solutions to customers worldwide.
The company recently completed the $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo in an attempt to increase content delivery and internet exposure. The assets acquired from Yahoo will be combined with AOL brands under a new subsidiary called Oath, which ultimately will house more than 50 media and technology brands. The new company will be headed by former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and many on Wall Street are positive on the deal.
Investors receive a 4.88% dividend. Merrill Lynch rates the stock a Buy. Its price target of $50 compares with the consensus target of $49.59. The stock closed Thursday at $48.35.
Four companies that could be great total return stories that also offer investors a degree of safety in what has become a very expensive stock market. All make sense for more conservative growth and income accounts.