Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a record 20.5 million people out of work, and the unemployment number spiked to 14.7%. This comes in the middle of earnings season, and results there have been, as expected, grim.
On a positive note, however, investors seem to be taking the bad news in stride. There’s a general belief that the COVID-19 epidemic and its effects are now baked in – that we know the worst is happening, but we also know it’s temporary. As several states move toward reopening and loosening lockdown restrictions, with some encouragement from the Trump Administration, investors are starting to look toward 2H20. Whether a recovery will be a steep V-shape, or a shallower slope is up for debate, but anticipation of a recovery helps to buoy market sentiment.
The upshot here is mixed signals. Macroeconomic signs – the jobs report, the earnings results – are flashing bright warning lights that we are in a recessionary event. But at the same time, investor sentiment – which is by nature forward looking – is generally positive and is boosting the main stock indexes. It’s potentially a buying environment, as long as investors don’t mind shouldering the clear risks.
We’ve opened up the TipRanks database, finding three stocks whose profile justifies the entry risk in today’s unsettled conditions. All three have recently beaten their earnings forecast, and are backed by several analysts, enough to earn a “strong buy” consensus rating. And better yet, for income-minded investors, all three of these stocks show high and reliable dividend yields.
Fidelity National Financial (FNF)
First on our list is a $7 billion player in the mortgage industry. Fidelity National Financial provides analysis, leverage, title insurance, and underwriting services in the commercial and residential mortgage service market. 2019 was a good year for FNF – the company beat the earnings estimates in each quarter of the year.
Fidelity has started 2020 on a similar note, with a strong Q1 earnings report, that beat the forecast and grew substantially year-over-year. EPS came in at 73 cents, 32% above the estimates and up an impressive 69% from Q1 2019.
The earnings were more than enough to cover Fidelity’s quarterly dividend of 33 cents per share. At $1.32 annualized, this dividend yields 5.1%, more than 2.5x the average dividend found among S&P listed companies. Fidelity has been gradually growing its dividend for the past two and a half years. The payout ratio of 45% indicates that the dividend is safe – current earnings easily cover it, and there is plenty of room for further growth.
Reviewing this stock for Stephens, 5-star analyst John Campbell sees a clear path forward: “…we continue to favor FNF as we believe that it offers up the best/most attractive title franchise valuation, it has a clear catalyst with the potential significant FGL accretion, and it has the best operators at the wheel as the industry ventures into what is likely to be a treacherous NT road ahead.”
Campbell’s Buy rating is accompanied by a $43 price target that suggests a 69% upside potential for the stock. (To watch Campbell’s track record, click here)
FNF shares have underperformed the markets so far this year. The stock is down 45%. But after the strong earnings, this makes the stock attractive – it is priced at a discount, has plenty of room to grow, and offers a high dividend return.
Fidelity National’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 3 Buys and 1 Hold set in recent weeks. This stock is currently trading for $25.35, and the average price target of $37 implies an upside of 46%. (See FNF stock analysis on TipRanks)
First American Financial (FAF)
Next up on our list is an insurance service company, First American Financial. FAF specializes in title and lenders insurance, as well as property and casualty policies. The company also deals with asset dispositions, commercial due process, foreclosures, and trustee services. While these services are hardly household essentials, they are mainstays of the financial world, and FAF brought in $6.2 billion in top-line revenue in fiscal 2019.
While First American’s Q1 earnings fell sequentially by 41%, the $1.06 reported beat the forecast by over 10%. It was also up 43% yoy. Revenues were also up year-over-year, by 8.4% to $1.4 billion.
The solid earnings underly a reliable 44-cent quarterly dividend that FAF has raised 3 times in the past four years. The payment annualizes to $1.76, and gives a yield of 3.8%, nearly four times higher than can be found in Treasury bonds.
Writing for Compass Point, analyst Chris Gamaitoni writes, “We continue to believe that First American's ability to confidently guide to profitability in this environment coupled with a low-risk balance sheet and benefiting from refinance volume will lead it to appreciate as a "safe haven" in the current environment.”
Gamaitoni’s $74 price target indicates a 60% upside and bolsters his Buy rating on the stock. (To watch Gamaitoni’s track record, click here)
All in all, First American has received 5 analyst reviews in recent months, including 4 Buys and 1 Hold, making the consensus rating a Strong Buy. FAF shares are selling for $46.38 and have an average price target of $58.60, more cautious than Gamaitoni’s but still suggesting a healthy 26%. (See First American stock analysis at TipRanks)
Total SA (TOT)
The final stock on our list is a giant of the oil industry. Total SA boasts a $90 billion market cap, even after falling 29% in the current bear cycle. The company shows the high revenues and profits typical of Big Oil, with an annual top line exceeding $200 billion and earning above $11 billion. Even the current period of low prices won’t fully derail TOT’s overall performance; the company is big enough to pad the hit, and the product always has a market.
Slack demand in Q1 did have an impact on earnings, however. The 66 cents per share was 20% higher than expected, although it was down 44% year-over-year. On a positive note, Q1 was the third consecutive quarter that saw earnings beat expectations.
Total SA pays out a reliable dividend to shareholders, and even though market conditions are volatile the company announced an increase in the dividend payment effective in Q2. The new payment, 74.75 cents per share quarterly, will annualize to $2.99 and give a yield of 8.5%. The recently announced dividend increase is a sign that company management is confident in their ability to continue returning profits to shareholders. It is also a good sign for investors interested in an oil play.
Ryan Todd, of Piper Sandler, sees Total SA as well-positioned for future gains. He writes, “…while the release was largely devoid of transformative updates, a further pruning of FY20 capex and opex targets, a relatively more constructive near-term downstream outlook, and operational momentum following its 1Q beat should be enough given the relative underperformance in the equity vs. its European peers over the last month.”
Todd puts a $45 price target on TOT shares, along with a Buy rating. His target implies an upside potential of 29%. (To watch Todd’s track record, click here)
Wall Street’s analyst corps has sent in 9 reviews on TOT, with a breakdown of 8 Buys to 1 Hold. The stock has an average price target of $43.52, which suggests a 25% premium from the $34.81 current trading price. (See Total SA stock analysis on TipRanks)
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