Any way you look at the metrics, from a historical standpoint stocks are expensive. Not late 1999 or 2000 expensive, but very pricey. One of the main reasons most investors keep leaning toward the equity markets is the persistent low interest rates and the seemingly overvalued bond market. A new research report from Deutsche Bank continues to stress that investors should look for value in large cap, safe names that are cheap.
We took their list of top large cap names that were trading at reasonable multiples, and screened for the stocks trading under 10 times estimated 2014 earnings. Five top stocks showed up, and could make good investments for the second half of the year.
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Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) is trading at a very low nine times 2014 estimated earnings. The company has had a remarkable comeback under the leadership of Silicon Valley veteran Meg Whitman. Her most important point for 2014 is her plan to use free cash flows in order to reduce the existing debt, repurchase new shares and maintain the dividend payout policy. All of that is in the best interest of shareholders.
HP's share in 1Gigabit E fixed switching improved 10 basis points or one-tenth of 1% year over year, as it continues to benefit from its local presence and brand name (H3C) in China. Other U.S. vendors are increasingly challenged for new business in the region. Investors are paid a 1.8% dividend. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $36.11. HP shares closed Friday at $34.22.
MetLife Inc. (MET) is a top insurance stock and trades at a low 9.7 times estimated 2014 earnings. The company is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Investors are paid a 2.5% dividend. The consensus price objective for the stock is $61.13. MetLife closed Friday at $56.45.
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) is a top technology name and Wall Street favorite that trades at a very low 9.7 times estimated 2014 earnings. The company, which is a leader in DRAM chip sales, has seen a nice streak of beating earnings estimates, especially when looking at the most recent two reports, in which Micron topped estimates by at least 35%, suggesting it has a nice short-term history of crushing expectations.
With demand for memory chips expected to increase steadily over the next five years, with Micron estimating 20% to 30% yearly increases in DRAM demand and 30% to 40% increases for NAND, the future looks very bright for this top name to buy. We recently highlighted the stock as a top supplier to Apple for the new iPhone 6. The consensus price target is $35.33. Micron closed Friday at $31.85 a share.
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Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) is another top insurance name to buy that trades at a low 9.5 times estimated 2014 earnings. With multiple products offered to clients, the company is a financial services leader, with more than $1.1 trillion of assets under management as of December 31, 2013. It has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Investors are paid a 2.4% dividend. The consensus price target is $99.35. Prudential closed Friday at $91.10.
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) is a top energy name that trades at a very reasonable 8.2 times estimated 2014 earnings. The company has 56% of companywide refining capacity located in the U.S. Gulf Coast, which makes Valero well positioned to benefit from the ongoing infrastructure debottlenecking of inland crude oil supply in 2014 and beyond. Some Wall Street estimates have the company generating an astounding free cash flow compounded annual growth rate of 24% between now to 2016. Investors are paid a 1.9% dividend. The consensus price target is $62.48. Valero closed Friday at $57.36.
It is important to remember that Deutsche Bank calculates these multiples on estimated earnings for 2014, with a full second half of the year to go, earnings could always drastically change. With that in mind, barring an economic meltdown, most of these top stocks should be able to hit analysts' targets. With price becoming ever so important, these cheap top stocks may be good portfolio additions now.