Some investors prefer to hunt for stock ideas among small, obscure companies in hopes that they'll uncover a hidden gem before the rest of the market notices the glitter. Yet ironically, well-known stocks frequently generate market-thumping returns over the long term -- precisely because they own such valuable, fortress-like franchises.
With that in mind, we asked our contributors for a few big-brand stocks that look attractive as investments right now. Read on for good reasons to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD), Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), and Home Depot (NYSE:HD).
This solid investment may get even better
Brian Feroldi: With the markets trading for a premium price tag, I think it's a smart idea to buy only the highest-quality companies you can find. One company that fits that description perfectly is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the global brewing conglomerate.
You are likely already quite familiar with the company's Budweiser and Busch products, but you might be amazed to learn about some of the other brands that this company controls. AB InBev brands include Corona, Stella Artois, Becks, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Michelob, Skol, as well as several dozen local brews. In total, this company counts more than 200 beer brands in its portfolio, and 19 of them rake in more than $1 billion in annual sales each year. This, combined with the company's massive distribution network, shows AB InBev truly has built itself a moat that few others can compete with.
However, the reason I think that AB InBev is a buy today is that its pending merger with SABMiler is nearing completion. Once these companies combine, the resulting entity will truly be a force to be reckoned with, giving it scale that no one else can come close to matching. In addition, the highly successful investment firm 3G Capital is a meaningful shareholder of AB InBev, and it has a history of making strong companies even more profitable through expense control and operational excellence. In short, I think this company will be well-posited for years of profitable growth.
AB InBev's shares trade for a lofty 26 times next year's earnings, but given the defensive nature of the business and growth prospects, I think the premium is justified. Mix in a dividend yield of 3.7%, and I think AB InBev is a great stock to consider buying today.
Demitri Kalogeropoulos: A few years ago, Activision Blizzard's business was dominated by just three blockbuster video game franchises. The Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Skylanders brands together accounted for 80% of revenue in 2013 and an even larger portion of profits.
Since then the developer has greatly expanded its portfolio to include new major properties such as Destiny, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. Meanwhile, its recent acquisition of King Digital made Activision a massive force in the mobile and casual gaming segment.
That packed portfolio is driving broad-based growth. Revenue spiked 50% higher last quarter as e-commerce sales passed $1 billion for the first time. The gains convinced management to raise its full-year revenue and profit outlook.
With shares up 50% over the last 12 months and near all-time highs, I won't say that Activision is cheap. However, the developer is positioned well as it heads into the key holiday shopping season. It boasts nearly half a billion engaged gamers, who collectively spent 10 billion hours playing its titles last quarter. Major releases in the next few months, including Skylanders in October and a new Call of Duty chapter in November, will boost those figures this fall. Add in the fast-growing e-sports streaming opportunity, and there is no shortage of levers that Activision can pull over the next decade to expand its reach and increase profits.
An industry leader
Keith Noonan: Home Depot has actually posted sales gains amid the broader retail struggles of 2016, and looks to have insulation against the encroachment of Amazon.com and other competing online retailers that helps to make the company a sound long-term investment. Its own online business is growing at a rapid clip, with a roughly 19% year-over-year sales increase recorded in its recent quarterly report, and the fact that about half of the company's online orders are picked up at store locations evidences a synergistic relationship between its internet business and brick-and-mortar locations. Many of Home Depot's product offerings are best viewed in person or with the help of a sales associate, and the company's installation services give it a growth avenue unchallenged by internet-based rivals.
Looking at the macro environment, both Home Depot and its largest competitor, Lowe's, are guiding for favorable trends in the housing market, and there's still a long way to go before home improvement spending reaches pre-housing-crisis levels. The orange-logoed retailer also has a big opportunity in serving enterprise improvement and construction needs, and estimates this market to be worth roughly $120 billion annually.
On the dividend side, the company's payout yields about 2.2% and is slightly ahead of the average yield of dividend-paying S&P 500 companies, which is roughly 2.1%. With a payout ratio of 43.7% and a 138% dividend increase over the last five years, it's reasonable to expect the company will continue boosting its returned income.
After falling nearly 7% this month, Home Depot trades at close to 20 times forward earnings projections -- just above the home improvement retail industry average of roughly 19. With its leading industry position, Home Depot looks to be a good company at a fair price.
The home improvement leader offers a combination of strong growth prospects, returned income, and reasonable valuation that make the stock an advisable buy this September.