With the stock market hitting all-time highs pretty much every day, there are not that many stocks that have low valuations today. Some of my favorite companies such as Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) are trading at over 22 times earnings, which is above what I am willing to pay for this otherwise excellent business.
As a result I focused on the list of dividend champions, and uncovered the following attractively valued companies with low p/e ratios. I tried to look for dividend champions with yields above 2%, payout ratios below 60% and P/E ratios around 16 or lower. Despite the fact that current yields on this list are low, these companies offer good values in today’s overheated market. With low dividend payout ratios and attractive dividend growth, these low valuations offer a great entry point for investors who have at least ten or twenty years to let the investment compound.
I also added Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP) to this list, because I was researching it for inclusion to my portfolio, despite the fact that the company has raised distributions for less than 25 years. As most of these companies yield less than 2.50%, I would monitor them and try to add on dips. For example, back in April, I initiated a position in IBM (NYSE:IBM) when the stock market punished the stock below $200/share, thus locking a 2% yield for a low valuation business with excellent EPS growth potential. Early in 2013 I was able to add to positions in Yum! Brands (YUM) and Family Dollar (FDO) after investors punished the stocks as well. That is why any type of irrational weakness must be explored by the enterprising dividend investor. Despite the high P/E on Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) today, it looks like the company trades at a P/E of around 15 based on forward 2013 estimates, so it could be one company to check out. The ability to look beyond the numbers could uncover attractively valued stocks in todays market.
While I would not be adding to my positions in Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) or Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) at current valuations, the 13 companies listed above will be the types of stocks to consider when adding new money to my portfolio on dips. This should be done of course only after thoroughly researching the business, and then paying an attractive entry price.
The traditional blue chip companies I have held on for so many years, such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and many others which have attracted my new capital contributions for the past five years are no longer making sense to buy. As a result, the overvalued markets have caused me to be more creative in uncovering successful businesses, that can deliver better performance in the future. I am willing to purchase a stock yielding 2% today, if the valuation is low at say 15 times earnings and if there are catalysts for future growth. At the end of the day, a company yielding 2%-2.50% that trades at a P/E of less 15 that grows dividends above 7%/year will be more valuable than a company yielding 3.00%, trading at a P/E of over 22 and growing at 7%.
I would try to avoid value traps during the individual analysis I perform. I would try to stay away from known problems that can be disastrous. As a result, I am avoiding technology stocks like Intel (INTC), which might not be able to grow earnings per share over the next decade per my analysis of the situation. In addition, I did not include Cardinal Health (CAH) on this list, because it has been losing customers such as Walgreens (WAG), and has contracts with CVS (CVS) up for renewal in June. That is despite the fact that Cardinal Health has raised dividends for 17 years, trades at a P/E of 13.60 and yields 2.60%
I would much rather avoid losing money, than miss out on the next hot stock. The importance is to focus on quality, which unfortunately usually lies in the eyes of the beholder. A small leak can sink a big ship. Companies which are losing customers, companies that have advantages which are not durable (such as tech companies), or companies which are cyclical are to be avoided. I am not interested in companies which look undervalued today, but whose profitability might suffer, thus making them overvalued in hindsight.
Full Disclosure: Long IBM, KO, CL, AFL, APD, CVX, MDT, UTX, WMT, WAG, AMP
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