Investors looking for large-cap bargains to add to their portfolios ahead of the fourth quarter might want to take a look at these three companies. They're favorites of some of our top Motley Fool contributors,who point to some important reasons why these companies' shares will move up from here. Read on to find out if these three stocks could be right for your portfolio.
Bargain-bin buy with news coming
Todd Campbell: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN -1.06%) shares have retreated 27% so far this year and that might be creating a nice opportunity for investors to buy ahead of some important milestones that are quickly approaching.
This year's decline is largely due to a slow ramp in sales of its cholesterol-busting drug Praluent, which launched last summer with a five-figure price tag and blockbuster expectations. So far, payers have been hesitant to embrace Praluent and its sales clocked in at only $24 million in Q2. That's disappointing given the sky-high projections, but sales could still take off if results from a cardiovascular outcomes study are positive. Independent monitors will take an interim look at the data from that trial later this year, and assuming that their futility analysis doesn't result in a trial halt, full results from this trial could be available next year.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' shares could also get a kick-start from two upcoming Food and Drug Administration approval decisions. The company's sarilumab targets the multibillion-dollar per year rheumatoid arthritis market and the FDA is expected to issue a go/no-go decision on Oct. 30. An approval decision is also in the works in early 2017 for dupilumab, an eczema therapy that management filed with the regulator last quarter.
If Praluent sales pick up and the FDA cooperates with a green light on sarilumab and dupilumab, then Regeneron could have four drugs on the market soon that target billion-dollar indications. If that happens, then this company has a shot at joining the top tier of large-cap biotech stocks, and for that reason, it could make sense to buy some shares this month ahead of these events.
Brighter days ahead
Daniel Miller: Despite the general economy slowly rebounding since the Great Recession, railroad stocks have had a rough recent history as the volume of coal being shipped has absolutely plummeted – and will likely stay that way. That's taken a chunk out of many railroads' top and bottom lines, but when looking for large caps, Union Pacific Corp. (UNP 0.04%) still remains a solid long-term option.
Not only do railroads generally offer less expensive shipping over long distances than the competing trucking industry, Union Pacific has a couple of other advantages. First, UP has tracks on the western part of the U.S. which enables to haul containers of freight imported from Asia. Second, while coal will still be a drag, the coal that it hauls is substantially cheaper than that from other regions and that could help reduce the sting from cheap natural gas replacing coal demand.
Another bonus for investors looking at large caps is a consistent dividend, and UP checks that box. UP has paid dividends on its common stock for 117 consecutive years, and it currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.55 per share, which is within management's new targeted payout ratio of between 40% to 45%. But that's just one way that UP returns value to shareholders. Look at the decline in outstanding shares in the graph below:
Make no mistake, it's been a rough couple of years for railroad stocks and the secular decline in coal. A strong U.S. dollar and a relatively soft global economy will continue to pressure volumes moving forward. I don't suggest trying to time a bottom, but right now, UP offers a railroad with durable competitive advantages in an industry that will inevitably see brighter days down the line.
This overlooked industrial giant is becoming a tech powerhouse
John Rosevear: If you follow the tech world at all, you've surely heard that the auto industry is in the early stages of a massive technology-driven transformation. Ride-sharing and ride-hailing, electric cars, and self-driving systems are all poised to turn the traditional idea of car ownership on its head.
So what's the best way to invest in this transformation? Which companies are poised to lead the way and thrive as car ownership gives way to a much wider range of "personal mobility" options?
Here's one, and it might surprise you: General Motors (GM -1.98%).
Many investors still think of GM as the money-losing maker of lousy cars that went bankrupt. But that GM doesn't exist anymore. This GM is under exceptionally sharp new management. Not only has that management team transformed GM into a solidly profitable global auto powerhouse, it has also made surprisingly aggressive moves to ensure that GM remains a global powerhouse as the auto industry transforms.
Sure, GM still sells lots of pickup trucks and SUVs. That's a good thing: They're massively profitable and in high demand, giving GM plenty of profit to reinvest in advanced technology. They're also -- like GM's other products -- now being built well enough to put all 4 of GM's U.S. brands near the top of J.D. Power's initial quality and vehicle dependability studies.
GM's "advanced technology" is already advanced. GM is about to beat Tesla Motors (TSLA -1.44%) to market with an affordable 200-mile electric car. It's on the verge of a big public test of its self-driving technology with ride-hailing start-up Lyft. (By the way, did you know that GM owns 9% of Lyft, and that GM's president is on Lyft's board?)
For investors, the best part of the story is this: Because tech-minded investors have overlooked its story, GM's stock is cheap. Right now, GM is trading at just over four times its trailing-12-month earnings. It pays a rock-solid dividend, too -- and because GM's shares are cheap, its current dividend yield is a whopping 4.7%.
Now, the caveat: It may take a while for GM's share price to shine. In the near term, there's some concern that the U.S. new-car market has hit a cyclical peak. CEO Mary Barra has a plan that should deliver strong bottom-line growth anyway, but it may take a few years to unfold. Still, in the meantime, you could reinvest that fat dividend and enjoy watching a great high-tech story unfold at a century-old American icon. There's a lot to like here.