This remains a leading health care stock pick for conservative investors. Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal infections, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, male pattern hair loss and fertility diseases.
The company also provides neuromuscular blocking agents for use in surgery, anti-bacterial products for skin and skin structure infections, cholesterol modifying medicines, non-sedating antihistamine and vaginal contraceptive products.
Shareholders of Merck are paid a 2.71% dividend. The $88 Merrill Lynch price target is above the posted consensus target of $83.02. The stock closed trading at $81.29 per share on Thursday.
Procter & Gamble
The stock offers a very solid dividend and safety. Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) is another solid consumer staples stock for conservative investors to consider. It sells lots of very well-known household items that are essential for everyday life. Brands include Pampers, Tide, Bounty, Charmin, Gillette, Oral B, Crest, Olay, Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Ariel, Gain, Always, Tampax, Downy and Dawn.
The company actually is innovative in its product development process and uses that to help ensure future growth and cash flow. This should provide investors years of steady growth and dividends.
Procter & Gamble shareholders are paid a 2.87% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $110. The consensus target price was last seen at $97.38, and the stock closed most recently at $98.55.
This top energy stock is also a solid pick for more conservative accounts. Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB) is now largely a pure-play domestic natural gas infrastructure company that has a 74% ownership interest in 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 liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, power generation and industrials. In addition to steady demand growth, Marcellus production and associated gas in the Permian are expected to continue to be primary supply drivers.
These shareholders are paid a very sizable 5.7% dividend. Merrill Lynch has set its price target at $30. The consensus across Wall Street is $31.94, and the stock closed Thursday at $26.69 a share.
These five outstanding ideas from the US 1 team at Merrill Lynch are decidedly more conservative. Given their strong and consistent dividends, they offer investors excellent total return potential and a safer way to play the stock market in 2019.
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