The 10 Top Blue Chip Stocks For Value And Yield

Kelley Wright is a dividend specialist, a contributor to and the editor of the industry-leading advisory service Investment Quality Trends. His Timely Ten list represents his top ten current recommendations chosen from among his universe of undervalued blue chip stocks.

We provide a significant amount of fundamental and technical information and data on high-quality, dividend-paying “blue chip” stocks. Our underlying strategy is to monitor historic pattern of “Undervaluation” and “Overvaluation” based on a stock’s historic dividend yield.

Whether you are looking to build a portfolio from scratch, are partially invested and looking to add new positions, or are fully invested and merely in need of some affirmation and hand holding, The Timely Ten represents our top ten recommendations from the Undervalued category of blue chips stocks in our universe.

Traditionally we have suggested the following criterions for investors to consider in their investment considerations:

  • An S&P Dividends and Earnings Quality Ranking of A- or better
  • A “Growth” designation for outstanding longterm annual dividend growth of 10% over the last twelve years
  • A price/earnings ratio (P/E) of 15 or less
  • A payout ratio (percentage of earnings paid out as a dividend) of 50% or less (75% for Utilities)
  • A debt level of 50% or less (75% for Utilities)

Historically, investors that have relied solely on these criterions in their stock selection process have been handsomely rewarded over time.

The only critique is that some stocks remain in the Undervalued area for a significant amount of time before they begin to demonstrate price appreciation.

For the investor with a long-term investment time-horizon this is not an issue, as they are getting paid to wait from consistent dividend payments and dividend increases.

For the investor with a shorter-term investment time-horizon, the discipline and patience required to let the full value of a company be expressed in its stock price may prove too difficult, and result in them abandoning this time-proven strategy, which is unfortunate.

There are multifaceted explanations/reasons for why a stock may remain in the Undervalued area for an extended period.

Looking for more dividend stocks? See Our Top 10 Dividend Aristocrats to buy today here.

In our experience, although a company may offer excellent current value in terms of its dividend yield, its internal economic measures may not be sufficiently attractive for current buying interest, thus the high dividend yield and the extended period in the Undervalued category.

To augment the traditional criterions above, and to identify those Undervalued stocks that also have excellent internal economic measures, in March, 2016, we introduced metrics to The Timely Ten we use at Private Client to construct portfolios for managed accounts.

These metrics are: Return on Invested Capital (ROIC), Free Cash Flow Yield (FCFY) and Price to Value Ratio (PVR). Return on invested capital (ROIC) measures how much profit a company generates for every dollar invested in the company.

Our belief is it is the truest measure of a company’s cash on cash returns. As such, we are interested in companies that produce a lot of cash from their investments in the company because this is where profits, and therefore dividends, come from. We like an ROIC of at least 10%.

Free cash flow (FCF) is the amount of cash that remains after everything has been paid, all new investments have been made, and is available for distributing to all the equity shareholders. In the old days, we used to call this “profits.”

As with many fundamental measures, investors tend to believe that “more is good, but less is not.” With free cash flow this isn’t always the case, however. A large amount of free cash flow may indicate the company can’t find sufficient opportunities for new investment(s), which can limit future growth prospects.

Negative free cash flow, on the other hand, could indicate that the company has an abundance of investment opportunities but not enough internal cash flow to pursue all of them. A flat or zero level of free cash flow could be a sign that the company is generating just enough cash to fund its growth opportunities.

With the way that earnings are calculated and reported, however, P/E’s are a questionable measure of value. Our belief is the free cash flow yield (FCFY), which is the free cash flow divided by the adjusted enterprise value of the company, gives much greater insight to a company’s value than does the P/E ratio.

We look for an FCFY of at least 5%. Price to Value Ratio (PVR) is a measure of how the market is valuing the future growth prospects of a company. In our experience the Street tends to extrapolate the present into the future, forever, which is just plain silly.

Am I concerned about valuations? Always, of course. Valuations are our life’s blood. Real total return depends on acquiring stocks when they offer good historic value and holding them until that value has been fully expressed at their high-price/low-yield Overvalue boundary.

The good news is our approach is not dependent on the broad market offering good value, only that we can identify individual high-quality issues that represent good historical value.

Limiting buying considerations to only high-quality stocks that represent good historic value maximizes upside price potential and minimizes downside risk.

Another advantage of acquiring shares at Undervalue is more time to receive dividends and enjoy dividend increases. These three factors are the foundation of real total return: Capital (price) appreciation; dividends; and, dividend growth. In a logical world it is real total return that is the only rational reason for investing in common stocks.

The challenge for investors, be they average or enlightened, is to be patient and give a stock time for its value to be expressed. The median time for a Select Blue Chip to travel from Undervalue to Overvalue is approximately three and one-half years. In closing, the value investor runs a marathon, not a sprint.

Looking for more dividend stocks? See Our Top 10 Dividend Aristocrats to buy today here

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