Investing

History Says Santa Claus Rally May Still Be on Its Way

McDonald’s

The fast-food giant does a ton of business overseas but still remains a solid pick for investors seeking dividends and a degree of safety. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) is the world’s leading global food-service retailer with over 37,000 locations serving approximately 69 million customers in over 100 countries each day. More than 80% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business men and women.

McDonald’s shares have been positive recently as menu price increases and global growth fueled a strong third-quarter earnings report. McDonald’s beat earnings on the top and bottom line, and the company posted its 13th consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.

McDonald’s shareholders receive a 2.53% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $200. The consensus price objective is $192.74, and the shares closed Friday at $183.29.

Pfizer

This top pharmaceutical stock made a gigantic splash last year with a $5.5 billion purchase of Anacor Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is a global biopharmaceutical company with a diversified portfolio of products and pipeline candidates, and it is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world as measured by market capitalization and revenue. It also is a component of the Dow Jones industrial average.

The company’s commercial operations are bifurcated into two business segments: Innovative Health, which focuses on the development and commercialization of medicines and vaccines, as well as consumer health care products, in various therapeutic areas, and Essential Health, which offers branded generic products, biosimilars, anti-infectives and other products without marketing patent protection.

Investors in Pfizer receive a 3.11% dividend. Merrill Lynch has set its price objective at $47. The consensus target price is $44.78, and shares closed at $43.80 on Friday.

Salesforce.com

This top company has reported solid fiscal 2018 results as billings drastically improved, and it is also on the Merrill Lynch US 1 list. Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) provides enterprise cloud computing solutions, with a focus on customer relationship management to various businesses and industries worldwide.

It offers enterprise cloud computing applications and platform services, including Sales Cloud that enables companies to store data, monitor leads and progress, forecast opportunities, gain insights through relationship intelligence and collaborate around sales on desktop and mobile devices.

The company also provides Service Cloud, which enables companies to deliver personalized customer service and support, as well as connect their service agents with customers on various devices; and Marketing Cloud, which enables companies to plan, personalize and optimize customer interactions.

Salesforce.com reported fiscal third-quarter results that exceeded expectations across the board. Billings growth of 27% exceeded the consensus 2019 forecast and implies new sub-annual contract value grew 20% on an organic basis, versus the consensus implied 7% decline. While fiscal fourth quarter billing guidance came in considerably below expectations, it’s not unusual for the company to issue conservative guidance, and field checks indicate a robust deal pipeline for the U.S. business.

The $181 Merrill Lynch price target compares to the consensus price objective of $171.78 and the most recent close at $137.04, down almost 3% on the day.

These six top stocks with varying degrees of risk have all had a solid 2018 and look poised to continue to perform in 2019. Investors with a long-term view that can look past the recent volatility can own these companies at very solid entry points, given the recent selling.

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