Wall Street Strategist Says to Buy Value Now: 5 Top Picks

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While a strong dollar is nice for those looking to travel to Europe, it’s not so great for companies looking to sell goods and services abroad, and for numerous reasons the U.S. dollar has strengthened dramatically over the summer and now into the fall. Plus, with interest rates headed higher, many of the momentum stocks that have led the markets over the past five years could start to crack.

In a new and comprehensive Jefferies report, equity strategist Steven DeSanctis continues to prefer value stocks over growth as the group is showing solid earnings growth and breadth. He also prefers companies with the bulk of their sales in the United States, citing the stronger dollar and better domestic earnings growth.

Some 26 stocks have made the cut this month, and all are Buy rated. Here we focus on five of the larger companies.

Centene

This company has a bias to Medicaid and is a solid play for investors Centene Corp. (NYSE: CNC) operates local health plans and offers a range of health insurance solutions. It also contracts with other healthcare and commercial organizations to provide specialty services including behavioral health management, care management software, correctional healthcare services, dental benefits management, in-home health services, life and health management, managed vision, pharmacy benefits management, specialty pharmacy and telehealth services.

The company is known best for operating in the Medicaid managed care and specialty services markets. The Medicaid business provides health insurance sponsored by the state and federal government for qualified lower income individuals, children and their families through programs such as Medicaid, State Children Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), foster care and the Aged Blind and Disabled (ABD) programs.

The Jefferies price target for the stock is $150, and the Wall Street consensus target is $152.83. The stock traded early Wednesday at $142.85 a share.

Comerica

This smaller large-cap bank often is off the Wall Street radar, but it may provide a very compelling investment idea. Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and strategically aligned by three business segments: business bank, retail bank and wealth management. It operates branches in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Texas, as well as in Canada and Mexico.

Top analysts are confident the company can deliver on its efficiency initiatives and is trying hard to maximize shareholder return. While some have lowered the firm’s net interest income estimates, that should be offset by lower provisions for loss. A rise in interest rates would certainly be a tailwind.

Shareholders are paid a 2.6% dividend. Jefferies has a price objective of $105, which is in line with the Wall Street expectations of $105.67. The shares traded at $93.60 on Wednesday.