Investing

Merrill Lynch's 5 Top Equity Income Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2018

Toronto-Dominion Bank

This is a top yielding financial stock to add to portfolios. Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD) is the largest Canadian bank and has over 1,100 branches across the country, with an above-average concentration in Ontario.

The bank’s domestic retail banking operations are the crown jewel and underpin its solid retail franchise, and the bank has below-average exposure to capital markets businesses. TD has been active on the acquisition front in recent years, and it operates through its TD Commerce Bank and TD Ameritrade in the United States.

TD Ameritrade business an incredibly fast-growing business that consistently challenges for online supremacy among the top Wall Street investment banks.

Investors are paid a very solid 3.53% dividend. The $67 Merrill Lynch price target compares with the consensus price objective last seen at $64.12. The stock ended trading most recently at $59.18 a share.

CME

This company had a record 2017, and 2018 looks very promising as well. CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME) exchanges offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes, including futures and options. CME brings buyers and sellers together through its Globex electronic trading platform and its trading facilities in New York and Chicago.

The company also operates CME clearing, one of the world’s leading central counterparty clearing providers, which offers clearing and settlement services across asset classes for exchange traded contracts and over-the-counter derivatives transactions.

The company’s non-U.S. business is growing, and with West Texas Intermediate crude increasing relevance as a global benchmark, it is another positive for the trading giant.

CME investors are paid a 1.76% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target was not available, but the consensus target is $181.80. Shares closed on at $159.12 on Tuesday.

Crown Castle International

This top tower stock offers incredible growth and income possibilities. Crown Castle International Corp. (NYSE: CCI) is one of the largest U.S. wireless tower companies, with over 40,000 towers across the country. Its core business is leasing space on its wireless towers primarily to wireless carriers, government agencies and broadband data providers.

The analysts continue to see momentum building through the year and expect the second half of 2018 will be stronger than the first half, with growing backlogs across towers, fiber and small cells. They also believe near-term upside to estimates remain and, in the early innings of 5G network upgrade cycles with leading tower and fiber/small cell portfolios, find the company well positioned.

Crown Castle investors are paid a very solid 3.79% distribution. Merrill Lynch has set its price objective at $119. The consensus target price is $116.17, and the stock closed on Tuesday at $110.83 a share.

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

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