2018 Laggards May Be Big 2019 Winners: 5 Stocks to Buy Now

December 4, 2018 by 247lee

Needless to say, the pressure on the markets due to trade issues was surely relieved as President Trump and President Xi of China came to an agreement at the G20 summit to temporarily halt tariff increases and to work on finding lasting solutions to everything from tariffs to intellectual property. The good thing for investors is that the recent selling during October and November has made some areas of the market incredibly attractive.

A new Jefferies research report notes that sectors that have lagged the S&P 500 this year most notably are the autos, banks, housing and materials stocks. Some of the top companies in those areas could provide investors with some solid stock picks for 2019. The report noted this data point:

Looking back to 1990, the six worst-performing industry groups in January to November have tended to outperform by 92 basis points in December to May, not a huge number, but at least the bleeding tends to stop.

While not a huge number, less than 1%, it makes sense to look in the rubble and see if there are some companies that could achieve outsized gains over the next six months. The Jefferies analysts provided 21 stocks to choose from, all are rated Buy. We picked the five that look to have among the best potential upside.

Broadcom

This stock has been crushed over the past two months and is a top value play now at Jefferies. Broadcom Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) has an extensive semiconductor product portfolio that addresses applications within the wired infrastructure, wireless communications, enterprise storage and industrial end markets.

Applications for Broadcom’s products in its end markets include data center networking, home connectivity, broadband access, telecommunications equipment, smartphones and base stations, data center servers and storage, factory automation, power generation and alternative energy systems and displays.

Top Wall Street analysts like the leadership in the mobile, data center and broadband markets, and especially in the radio frequency (RF) arena. Many on Wall Street see a cyclical rebound in industrial and communications demand.

Broadcom investors are paid a 2.97% dividend. Jefferies has a $278 price target on the shares, and the Wall Street consensus price target is $288.74. The stock closed Monday’s trading at $242.07 a share.

Ford

This is another solid value play now, and demand could jump with a trade deal with China paving the way. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is one of the world’s largest vehicle producers, with over 6 million units manufactured and sold globally. The company has made significant progress executing on its One Ford plan and delivering best-in-class vehicles.

The company also remains committed to positioning itself well within the evolving auto industry through balanced investments across electrification, autonomy and mobility services.

A stronger mix of trucks and sport utility vehicles increased Ford’s overall average transaction pricing, hitting a new record of $37,000 in November, a $1,600 increase over last year. This compares to a $780 increase across the board for all vehicles. Overall, Ford Expedition sales increased 7.9% last month with 4,264 SUVs sold. At the retail level, Expedition sales grew at a faster pace of 17.7%.

Shareholders of Ford are paid an outstanding 6.38% dividend, though it has the potential to be cut going forward. Jefferies has a $16 price target, and the posted consensus price target is much lower at $9.89. The shares closed at $9.60 on Monday.

KeyCorp

This top midcap bank makes good sense for the rest of the year and into 2019. KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) operates as the bank holding company for KeyBank National Association, which provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals, small and medium-sized businesses.

The company also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets banner.

The top managers are attracted to the larger regional banks, as valuations look very reasonable and cost-saving plans are helping to make forward estimates look very achievable. With overall credit remaining solid, earnings and loan deposit and fee growth all are positive metrics for the bank.

KeyCorp investors receive a solid 3.79% dividend. The $23 Jefferies price target is just above the $22.17 consensus target. The shares closed on Monday at $18.44.

Nucor

This top steel company could continue to do very well if the economy sees a continued strength next year and nonresidential construction grows. Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) is one of North America’s largest steel producers, with almost 27 million tons of finished steel capacity at 23 mini-mills throughout the United States.

The company’s downstream steel products business includes rebar fabrication, steel joists/deck, cold finished bars, fasteners, building systems and wire mesh. Nucor also has 5 million tons of scrap processing capacity.

Nucor has always kept a very conservative balance sheet and is poised for slow but steady growth next year and beyond, especially if a huge infrastructure build-out becomes a reality.  In addition, global weather catastrophes have also helped continue to drive the need for steel products.

Nucor investors receive a very solid 2.56% dividend. The Jefferies price target is $80. The consensus target was last seen at $75.43, and the stock closed most recently at $61.19.

Williams Companies

This top energy stock was added to the Jefferies Franchise Pick list back in the summer. Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB) is now largely a pure-play domestic natural gas infrastructure company that recently completed the merger with its underlying master limited partnership, Williams Partners.

The company has a lower risk, fee-based business model with some volume sensitivity. Natural gas demand continues to be driven by LNG exports, power generation and industrial needs. In addition to steady demand growth, Marcellus production and associated gas in the Permian are expected to continue to be primary supply drivers.

Shareholders are paid a very sizable 5.41% dividend. Jefferies has set its price target at $34. The consensus target is $33, and the shares closed on Monday at $25.70.

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These five stocks have dramatically lagged this year but could be offering investors solid upside potential for the next six months and beyond. While the market is currently giddy over the potential for the trade disputes to be settled, it’s important to remember that if they fail in the negotiations, there could be a steep sell-off as a result.