5 Merrill Lynch Equity Income Stocks With Huge Total Return Potential

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Cisco

This top mega-cap technology company will report earnings on Wednesday. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) designs, manufactures and sells internet protocol (IP) based networking products and services related to the communications and information technology industry worldwide.

It provides switching products, including fixed-configuration and modular switches, and storage products that provide connectivity to end users, workstations, IP phones, wireless access points and servers, as well as next-generation network routing products that interconnect public and private wireline and mobile networks for mobile, data, voice and video applications.

Shareholders receive a 2.87% dividend. The $53 Merrill Lynch target price compares with the consensus target of $48.85 and the most recent close at $45.93.

AstraZeneca

This solid pick still offers investors a solid entry point after see-sawing this year. AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN) is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries, and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

This company also has an outstanding pipeline, especially in oncology. The broad pipeline of next-generation investigational medicines is focused on four main disease areas: ovarian, lung, breast and haematological cancers. These are being targeted through four key platforms: immuno-oncology, the genetic drivers of cancer and resistance, DNA damage repair and antibody drug conjugates.

Oncology is a therapeutic area in which AstraZeneca has deep-rooted heritage. It will be potentially transformational for the company’s future, becoming the sixth growth platform. The long-term corporate goal is to help patients by redefining the cancer treatment paradigm and one day eliminate cancer as cause of death. By 2020, the company is aiming to bring six new cancer medicines to patients.

Shareholders receive a 3.76% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a price objective of $38.46. The consensus target is $38.89, and shares closed Friday at $36.40.

Digital Realty Trust

This top data center company also is a solid play on the huge cloud and streaming content revolution. Digital Realty Trust Inc. (NYSE: DLR) supports the data center and colocation strategies of more than 600 firms across its secure, network-rich portfolio of data centers located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Digital Realty’s clients include domestic and international companies of all sizes, ranging from financial services, cloud and information technology services, to manufacturing, energy, gaming, life sciences and consumer products. The company rates highest with portfolio managers as 8.39% of the market cap of the company is in institutional hands.

The analysts cite the solid dividend, and the potential for dividend growth. They also feel that data center pricing is still favorable, and the growth in adoption of the cloud is a positive going forward. Lastly, they feel the stock is underweighted by active managers, and could see an uptick if they started adding shares.

Investors receive a 3.71% distribution. The Merrill Lynch price target is $120. The consensus target is $121.44, and shares closed Friday at $108.79.

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These five top growth companies are all rated Buy and pay outstanding dividends, and they have good growth prospects. With the market very pricey, they make sense for investors looking to shift to lower beta profile stocks.