Every month, millions of Americans sit down and evaluate their investment portfolios. Should some stocks be sold? What should be purchased with any excess cash that's available? These are important questions and the answers are never easy. So, if you're looking for top stocks to round out your portfolio in the month of November, our Foolish contributors think that EPAM Systems (NYSE:EPAM), Under Armour Inc. (NYSE:UAA), Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Allergan (NYSE:AGN), Silver Standard Resources (NASDAQ:SSRI), and International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) are worth a deeper dive. No one has a crystal ball, but these stocks are more than worth a second glance by those looking to allocate excess capital. Here's why.
Ride the outsourcing wave
Brian Feroldi (EPAM Systems): While many growth stocks are trading at stretched valuations, I think EPAM Systems offers investors a rare opportunity to buy a fast-growing company at a reasonable valuation.
Companies of all different sizes turn to EPAM to help them create complex software products that they couldn't develop on their own. EPAM can do so by employing a worldwide army of 18,000 engineers, designers, and consultants that can collaborate around the clock to quickly to create customized software solutions that fit the client's needs.
EPAM got its start by offering its services to software and technology companies, but over the years it's done a great job winning new clients in other sectors, too. Currently, the company's customers can be found in the financial, travel, media, and life sciences industries, which help to make its business more resilient to downturns.
What investors should love about this business model is that the company's revenue and profit are highly predictable. EPAM believes that almost 90% of its full-year revenue is accounted for at the start of any given year, so the company can provide guidance with great accuracy. With management calling for revenue growth of 26% for the full year, this company's future is looking bright. And with shares trading around 19 times next year's earnings estimates, I think right now is a great time to give EPAM's stock a closer look.
Running against the crowd
Jason Hall (Under Armour): As of this writing, Under Armour shares are down about 40% from their all-time high of a little more than one year ago. And there's more than one reason to think the stock could fall even further in the coming quarters:
- Demand for athletic apparel is weakening in North America, where Under Armour generates nearly 85% of its sales.
- Macroeconomic concerns could make it more difficult for the company to grow overseas in the near term.
- Competitive pressure could squeeze prices -- and profits -- as management continues to spend heavily on growth.
So why suggest buying a stock that could fall further? Because the long-term opportunity for Under Armour continues to look fantastic, and I think the market may be giving investors an excellent opportunity to buy this high-quality business at a reasonable price. Yes, based on common valuation multiples, Under Armour's stock is still relatively pricey, with a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 70. But what the market is overlooking with Under Armour is how strong the long-term prospects remain, and that the company's focus isn't on propping up profits next quarter or the quarter after to keep analysts and traders happy.
Instead, Under Armour, under the leadership of founder and CEO Kevin Plank, is relentlessly investing in expansion around the world and developing innovative products across apparel, footwear, and connected fitness. Over the next several years, this focus looks likely to mean slimmer margins and lower operating income growth than Mr. Market wants.
But I'm not willing to disregard the massive opportunity to own part of the next global consumer brand simply because there's uncertainty over the next few years. Just consider that there will be 1 billion new people in the global middle class within two decades. Under Armour should be on every growth investor's buy list in November.
Stability in an otherwise tumultuous energy industry
Tyler Crowe (Enterprise Products Partners): It seems a bit strange to keep recommending the same stock over and over again. But when the conditions for the recommendation haven't changed, there's no reason to stop. In fact, based on how little the stock has moved over the past year -- up less than 1% -- it makes investing in Enterprise Products Partners that much more compelling. That's because the whole time, Enterprise has been raising its payout every quarter since and now sports a 6.2% distribution yield.
Those who aren't a fan of the company will point to stagnating earnings and cash flows, which is a fair argument. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the company has been able to maintain relatively flat earnings through one of the worst downturns the energy industry has seen in decades, and the company is still generating enough cash to handsomely pay its investors and have excess cash to spare to build out its $2.3 billion worth of investments slated to come online in 2016 alone. When you combine the additional assets slated to come online this year, the slight expected uptick from rising oil and gas prices, and overall activity in the U.S. energy industry, November looks like a good time to add Enterprise Products Partners to one's portfolio.
Great company, unloved industry
Daniel Miller (General Motors): As markets continue to hover around all-time highs, I'm looking for stocks trading at a steep discount with a high dividend yield and future catalysts that could boost earnings. One company that perfectly fits that bill is General Motors.
GM is getting no love, thanks to the common belief that the new-vehicle market in America is peaking. While that might be true, GM still trades at a forward price-to-earnings of 5.5 and has posted four consecutive quarters of record quarterly EBIT-adjusted profits. During the third quarter, its return on invested capital moved 460 basis points to an impressive 30.6% -- great to see in a capital-intensive industry.
GM has proved its willingness to spend capital to return value to shareholders, with its dividend yield just under 5% and having just completed its $5 billion share-repurchase program a quarter early. Now it plans to begin a new $4 billion repurchase program this quarter.
But it's clear Wall Street isn't buying into these record results, because what if this is as good as it gets? Where is the growth story? But there's a reason GM is moving higher on my list of major automakers: Its Maven project -- its brand for all car-sharing and smart-mobility projects -- is in the very early stages and expanding rapidly. And that's not to mention autonomous vehicles and GM's acquisition of Cruise Automation. If Uber can come out of nowhere and in a few years generate a market cap valued around $60 billion, what if a major automaker has the next big breakthrough idea?
That's a real catalyst, one that these major automakers aren't getting credit for in their valuations. I would bet a major automaker does figure out the next Uber-like breakthrough, and GM -- with its pile of cash, strong return on capital, and improving product quality -- is a sound bet.
This top drugmaker should rebound soon
George Budwell (Allergan): Allergan's stock has been in freefall ever since its megamerger with Pfizer went belly-up, shedding more than 30% of its value year to date. The underlying catalyst behind Allergan's staggering devaluation, though, appears to have more to do with its unfortunate label as a specialty pharma company than with its failed merger attempt. Long story short, the U.S. presidential election has put specialty pharma companies in the spotlight for their widespread practice of buying older drugs and subsequently jacking up their prices by astronomical amounts.
Allergan, however, doesn't exactly fit this mold. Unlike some of its specialty pharma peers, Allergan has primarily focused on acquiring companies with novel late-stage clinical candidates to bring exciting new growth products -- such as the double-chin drug Kybella and the next-generation antibiotic Dalvance -- into the fold. The net result is that Allergan's stellar double-digit growth within its branded pharma segment has been driven mainly by rising sales volumes, not eye-popping price increases..
So with Allergan's management making it a top priority to rebrand the company as a leading growth pharma, and the campaign rhetoric surrounding the drug-pricing controversy starting to die down, this beaten-down pharma stock should be setting up for a healthy rebound soon.
A lustrous opportunity to consider
Sean Williams (Silver Standard Resources): My top stock to buy in November is near and dear to my heart: Silver Standard Resources. Readers would be wise to consider that as my largest portfolio holding, I have some inherent bias in my belief that Silver Standard will head higher. Of course, there are risks involved with any investment, and retreating precious-metal prices, as well as unexpected mine development or safety expenditures, can always uproot even the most attractively priced mining stocks.
There are two particular reasons I see Silver Standard Resources excelling going forward. First, we have the macroeconomic reason: a new bull market for physical gold and silver.
One of the greatest drivers for precious metals is low opportunity costs. Opportunity cost is the act of giving up a nearly guaranteed gain in one asset for the chance of a higher return in another. Since physical gold and silver have no yield, investors are giving up the guaranteed yields of CDs and bonds to purchase precious metals. However, yields on interest-bearing assets are exceptionally low -- so low, in fact, that they're losing to inflation in many cases. As long as opportunity cost remains low, silver and gold should benefit.
Investor demand is also seeing a large uptick, with the Silver Institute reporting a large deficit in silver supply versus demand. Basic economics tells us that constrained supply and growing demand tend to push prices higher. If physical silver rises, Silver Standard should benefit.
Second, we have fundamental factors that could push the company higher. Perhaps the biggest of those is the acquisition of Canadian-based Claude Resources, which closed in June. Claude's Santoy Gap will help add another dimension to Silver Standard's product portfolio, as well as bring in about 70,000 ounces of gold and $20 million in cash flow each year.
Marigold is a key cog as well, with production expected to rise from a median of 210,000 ounces of gold annually in 2017 to a median of 235,000 ounces by 2021. Meanwhile, Silver Standard's all-in sustaining costs are declining. At the moment, Silver Standard is trading at just over seven times its 2017 cash flow per share estimate, which is pretty inexpensive historically.
With Silver Standard Resources having retreated by roughly a third from its 52-week high set in August, now could be the perfect time to buy.
Tim Green (International Business Machines): It's been a rough few years for IBM investors. The company has been investing heavily in growth areas such as cloud and cognitive computing, shifting resources and manpower away from less attractive legacy businesses. The result has been more than four years of revenue declines and quite a bit of pessimism surrounding the stock.
IBM has touted Watson, the face of its cognitive-computing push, as a product with incredible potential. Back in 2013, CEO Virginia Rometty set a target of $10 billion of revenue for Watson within 10 years. Whether IBM hits that goal remains to be seen, but a string of recently announced partnerships points to growing momentum for Watson.
At a recent conference, Rometty predicted that 1 billion people would use Watson in some form by the end of next year. Watson is already being used in a variety of projects in the healthcare industry, and IBM's recent acquisition of Promontory Financial Group put Watson into the financial-services business. General Motors will soon introduce a new version of its OnStar system that uses Watson to deliver personalized offers, and enterprise messaging start-up Slack will use Watson to improve its customer-service bot.
Each individual deal is small, but together they suggest that Watson is gaining traction. For Slack to turn to an IBM product is notable – Big Blue is not exactly a cool and exciting company. While IBM's ongoing transformation has many moving parts, progress in getting Watson into as many products and industries as possible is a great sign. With shares of IBM down nearly 30% from their peak in early 2013, November is a great time to buy.