Blue-chip stocks are a safe bet in difficult times with strong business fundamentals
When it comes to investing, most of us are looking for predictable growth over the long term with minimal effort and some measure of security. That’s what blue-chip stocks typically provide. Most are backed by proven businesses with solid balance sheets, strong cash flows, and often a dividend that steadily increases over time.So, it is a good idea to invest in such stocks, especially when their prices fall. +
Generally speaking, blue-chip stocks fall due to macroeconomic factors rather than inherent weakness. That means buying lower should result in price appreciation once business cyclicality plays out.The shares listed below are near 52-week lows making them very intriguing. Could they dip lower? Of course.
However, these equities look prepared to move higher. Buying them now appears to be a safe bet.
|Johnson & Johnson
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One of the top blue-chip stocks to own isMicrosoft(NASDAQ:MSFT). While its stock has been stagnant over the next few months, the company did report better-than-anticipated results for the Sept. quarter. Revenues reached $50.1 billion, topping the $49.7 billion Wall Street was expecting. And earnings per share (EPS) reached $2.35, beating the expected EPS by four cents.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the strong quarter means little, as investors are forward-looking. For instance, Wall Street was expecting Microsoft’s revenue guidance for the Dec. quarter to be $56.1 billion. However, Microsoft expects shortfalls across the board and revenues in the range of $52.4 to $53.4 billion in December.The result is that MSFT shares will likely remain cheap during the coming weeks. In fact, they are currently near their 5-year low based on the P/E ratio.
A big part of the issue is that Microsoft’s cloud product, Azure. Revenue in the firm’s intelligent cloud segment reached $20.3 billion in the quarter. That was the low end of guidance that only reached as high as $20.6 billion. I’d say that’s a small issue but it makes MSFT shares cheap. The company will remain relevant for a long time to come. Don’t worry about the ‘weak’ quarter forecasted and think longer term.
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) stock currently trades for $87. That is close to the middle of its 52-week range of $68.39 and $117.80. Starbucks has investors and analysts divided. Analysts have assigned it 13 buy and 18 hold ratings because there is so much going on with the company. That’s a sign that it’s a difficult company to understand currently.
Those issues include unionization efforts at the company and worries that it will lead to lower profitability moving forward. Further, Starbucks operates 6,000 stores in China. The concern is that President Xi’s third term announcement will continue to choke those operations as zero Covid policies look likely to remain in place under his leadership.
Upbeat investors should look to the company’s increasing quarterly dividend as Starbucks continues to mature. The company is clearly moving toward a day when it can be counted among dividend aristocrats and other stock market royalty.
In the short term, investors should comfort themselves with the fact that company directors purchased millions of dollars worth of SBUX stock recently at $92. That’s a strong signal for SBUX currently priced at $87.
Home Depot (HD)
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Home Depot’s (NYSE:HD) stock is worth a bet at current prices. It currently trades just above $297 after rallying over the past few weeks.There is no doubt that there is a lot stacked against Home Depot. It is the world’s largest home improvement chain. With the housing market declining sharply, Home Depot would appear very speculative. In addition, the Federal Reserve appears likely to implement its fourth consecutive giant rate increase f 75 basis points on Nov. 2, which could negatively impact the HD stock further.
Unfortunately, the rate hike also leads to increasing mortgage rates which make home purchases less likely. Then there’s the argument that a rate hike pushes the economy toward a potentially deeper recession. The good news – the company did post its highest-ever sales and earnings in Q2. It also reaffirmed the fiscal year 2022 guidance.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Another one of the top blue-chip stocks to consider is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), which is quite far from its 52-week low of $155 at its current price of just under $74.
Johnson & Johnson bested Wall Street revenue expectations of $23.4 billion reaching sales of $23.8 billion. EPS figures hit $2.55, above the $2.48 anticipated.The company attributed its success to easing hospital staffing crunches that choked medical device sales in recent quarters. There were mixed signs that elective procedure volumes are returning to more normal levels.The company also saw pharmaceutical sales rise by 9.2% and consumer health up by 4.8%.
Johnson & Johnson is in a strong position currently with $34 billion of cash on hand. The company will have a lot of leverage to maneuver in the coming quarters. The weakening economy will drive valuations lower meaning JNJ could snap up a cheap acquisition, driving its value higher in the process.
Cisco Systems (CSCO)
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Another one of the top blue-chip stocks is Cisco Systems(NASDAQ:CSCO) stock isn’t far from its 52-week low of $38.60. It is arguable that it should soar based on long-term fundamentals indicating it remains underpriced.
Cisco’s profitability metrics remain well ahead of its hardware industry competitors on almost every front. Its operating and gross margins are better than 95% of its competition. That power is partly due to its scale as one of the biggest players in its space. And its foothold should remain strong in a weakening economy as smaller firms cannot keep up with those scale advantages. The other interesting thing about Cisco is that it bears a dividend yielding 3.41% currently. That’s especially high for a tech firm given that tech firms generally lack dividends at all.
On top of those strong fundamentals, Cisco also posted strong Q2 results, besting Wall Street expectations. Revenues reached $13.1 billion, ahead of the $12.73 billion analysts anticipated. And Cisco gave revenue guidance of 2%-4% growth for Q3 whereas analysts expect a 0.6% decrease.
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Alphabet(NASDAQ:GOOG, GOOGL) and its stock are in trouble. Q3 earnings were well below expectations on all fronts. But Alphabet remains the best choice for tech ad-spending which matters even as the economy weakens.
First the numbers. Alphabet saw revenues decline across its major businesses. Alphabet ad revenue totaled $54.48 billion. That was well below the $56.9 billion anticipated. YouTube ad revenue didn’t reach the $7.5 billion expected, falling short, of $7.07 billion. The lone bright spot was that Google Cloud revenue was $170 million above the $6.7 billion in revenue expected.
In any case, Alphabet is an advertising firm first and foremost. The weak results don’t look great overall.So, why should investors expect Alphabet won’t fall lower? After all, ad spending is expected to continue to fall along with the economy. The answer is that search ad spending is expected to hold up best. That means Alphabet has an edge over its competition moving forward. Markets are forward-looking and Q3 earnings are now a thing of the past.
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Accenture (NYSE:ACN) stock isn’t very far from its 52-week low of $242.95 and is another one of the top blue-chip stocks to consider.
That’s an opportunity as the consulting firm is humming along with enviable growth numbers. The company reported full fiscal year earnings in late September that show very strong growth. Q4 revenues reached $15.4 billion representing a 15% increase on a year-over-year basis. For the full year, Accenture’s revenues reached $61.6 billion. That represented a record annual increase of 22% in U.S. dollars for the Dublin-based firm.
Accenture had a strong year overall. However, it missed Q2 expectations which have made investors somewhat hesitant even after the strong Q3 showing.The company expects Q1 ‘23 to produce revenue growth in the range of 10% to 14%. That should continue to intrigue investors along with Accenture’s history of returning cash to shareholders. It paid $2.46 billion in dividends during the fiscal year and undertook $4.12 billion worth of share repurchases.
On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
I'm a seasoned financial analyst with extensive experience in evaluating and investing in blue-chip stocks. I've closely followed market trends, financial reports, and economic indicators to make informed investment decisions. My expertise lies in identifying stocks with strong business fundamentals and the potential for long-term growth. Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article about blue-chip stocks.
Blue-Chip Stocks Overview: Blue-chip stocks are considered safe investments during challenging times due to their strong business fundamentals. These stocks are typically backed by proven businesses with solid balance sheets, robust cash flows, and often offer dividends that increase over time. The article emphasizes the idea that investing in blue-chip stocks, especially when their prices fall, can be a prudent strategy.
Highlighted Blue-Chip Stocks:
- Recent Financials: Microsoft reported better-than-anticipated results for the September quarter, with revenues reaching $50.1 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations.
- Outlook: Despite a strong quarter, there are concerns about Microsoft's cloud product, Azure, which may impact short-term performance. However, the company is expected to remain relevant in the long term.
- Current Situation: Starbucks stock trades at $87, with analysts divided due to various issues, including unionization efforts and concerns about operations in China under President Xi's leadership.
- Dividend Perspective: Starbucks is moving towards becoming a dividend aristocrat, and the increasing quarterly dividend is seen as a positive sign for investors.
Home Depot (HD):
- Recent Performance: Home Depot's stock, currently trading just above $297, faced challenges with a declining housing market and potential Federal Reserve rate hikes.
- Positive Indicators: Despite challenges, Home Depot posted its highest-ever sales and earnings in Q2 and reaffirmed its fiscal year 2022 guidance.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ):
- Financial Results: Johnson & Johnson beat Wall Street revenue expectations, reaching sales of $23.8 billion, attributed to easing hospital staffing crunches and positive trends in pharmaceutical and consumer health segments.
- Strong Position: With $34 billion in cash, Johnson & Johnson is in a strong position to navigate economic challenges and make strategic acquisitions.
Cisco Systems (CSCO):
- Fundamentals: Cisco Systems remains underpriced based on long-term fundamentals, with strong profitability metrics and a 3.41% dividend yield.
- Recent Results: Cisco posted strong Q2 results, surpassing revenue expectations and providing positive guidance for Q3.
Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL):
- Challenges: Alphabet faced Q3 earnings below expectations, with declines in ad revenue across major businesses, except for Google Cloud.
- Search Ad Spending Advantage: Despite weak results, Alphabet's focus on search ad spending is expected to give it an edge over competitors in the long run.
- Growth Numbers: Accenture reported strong growth, with Q4 revenues reaching $15.4 billion, representing a 15% increase year-over-year.
- Investor Opportunity: Despite missing Q2 expectations, Accenture's strong Q3 showing and expectations of continued revenue growth make it an intriguing investment.
In conclusion, the article suggests that these blue-chip stocks, despite facing challenges, present opportunities for investors looking for long-term growth and stability.