Don’t look now, but the momentum tech crowd has started to get a little trigger happy when it comes to selling after the Facebook disaster last week, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq has been getting pounded as investors that have made big money in tech stocks cash in their chips. This should come as zero surprise to long-time investors, and if you have big tech gains it may make sense to at least sell partial positions.
The question is what to do with the proceeds? One good idea is to look for contrarian stock picks, especially in technology, but also in sectors that investors have shunned in 2018, like telecommunications. We screened our 24/7 Wall St. research database and found five great contrarian calls, all rated Buy.
This company recently won its battle to acquire Time Warner and may become a much bigger entertainment player. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is the largest U.S. telecom company by market capitalization. It provides wireless and wireline service to retail, enterprise and wholesale customers. The company’s wireless network serves approximately 124 million mobile connections with 77 million postpaid subscribers.
AT&T is also the world’s largest provider of pay TV. The company has TV customers in the United States and 11 Latin American countries. The company helps businesses worldwide serve their customers better with mobility and highly secure cloud solutions as well. With shares trading at a very cheap 9.4 times estimated 2018 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.
The company reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings updated 2018 earnings guidance to the “high end” of the prior range.
AT&T shareholders receive a 6.27% dividend. Merrill Lynch just upgraded the shares to Buy on Monday and has a $37 price target. The Wall Street consensus target is $36.64. The shares closed trading Monday at $32.
Utilities are usually very out of favor in a rising interest environment. Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) operates as a regulated utility company in the United States and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company operates regulated electric utilities in the Midwest, Florida and the Carolinas and supplies electric service to approximately 7.5 million residential, commercial and industrial customers. Duke owns 50,000 megawatts of capacity.
The regulated gas utilities serve more than 1.6 million customers in the Carolinas and Ohio. A commercial arm owns contract renewables and pipelines across the United States. Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock in June and noted why:
We upgrade shares to Buy and raise our price target as we up estimates are a victim of large-cap regulated utility sell-off. Wall Street still does not believe management at $5.19 versus the Merrill Lynch estimate of $5.35 and implied range of $5.30-5.60. Story has been sizably de-risked in North Carolina, trading at 3-yr low and a 15% discount to peers on 2020 price to earnings.
Shareholders receive a 4.59% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target stands at $84, and the consensus target is $82.14. Shares closed Monday at $80.77. The company will report earnings on Thursday.