While we Fools are generally bargain hunters, we recognize that some companies are so fantastic that it can make sense to buy them while they're on the upswing. With that in mind, we asked a team of Fools to each highlight a stock trading near its 52-week that is still worth buying today. Read on to see why they selected Visa (NYSE:V), Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP), Paycom Software (NYSE:PAYC), and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Charge ahead with this payment-network giant
Dan Caplinger (Visa): Financial stocks have skyrocketed since the presidential election in November, as investors hope that deregulation in the banking and investment industry will lead to faster growth and new prospects for business expansion in the months and years ahead. Yet Visa stands to win in a couple of ways, and it's better positioned to prosper no matter what happens to the global economy and the state of regulation in the U.S. financial industry going forward.
Unlike banks, Visa carries no credit risk with its payment network. Instead, it simply takes a small cut of transactions using its infrastructure, and as more people use electronic payments to make purchases, Visa has carved out its share of the growing market.
There are a couple of reasons to be bullish on Visa even after its big share-price gains. First, most indications suggest that the economic expansion is continuing in the U.S., and that should spur greater consumer activity that can help contribute to greater overall purchase and transaction volumes. Also, Visa recently acquired Visa Europe, reintegrating its global operations and putting it in a position to benefit from recoveries elsewhere in the world. Combine that with emerging market economies where consumers are only now starting to adopt electronic payments, and you can see how Visa could continue to make progress despite already having rewarded shareholders with 25% gains over the past year.
Riding high but undervalued
Matt DiLallo (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Units of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners are up more than 50% over the past year, recently hitting a new 52-week high. Fueling that growth was the company's strong showing in 2016 when it grew funds from operations (FFO) by 17% after completing a slew of growth projects and acquisitions. Those strategic growth initiatives enabled the company to increase its distribution by 11% for 2017.
The company still has plenty of growth left in the pipeline. In fact, it has added $1.4 billion in new organic projects to its backlog and is close to closing three more acquisitions. These new additions have the potential to drive FFO up double digits again this year if everything goes according to plan, well ahead of the company's long-term guidance for 5% to 9% annual FFO growth.
That said, despite the robust growth in the pipeline, Brookfield's units trade for a higher yield compared to its peers. Because of that, Brookfield believes the market has significantly undervalued its units. In fact, as the following slide suggests, units would trade for around $50 if the market valued its yield closer to the peer group average:
While units aren't quite as undervalued as they had been, they're still a bargain compared to what Brookfield believes they're worth. That suggests the potential for more upside on the horizon, especially as the company continues building and buying assets that grow its cash flow and distribution. Speaking of which, at a nearly 5% yield, investors get paid a pretty penny while waiting for the market to wake up and realize that Brookfield still trades at a hefty discount.
A boring but mission-critical service
Brian Feroldi (Paycom Software): I don't know many people that would show up at work if they weren't receiving a paycheck. Employers certainly know this, too, which is why they take payroll processing so seriously. And yet, legacy payroll systems can be a big hassle to deal with since they generally don't play well with other HR systems.
Chad Richinson certainly understands this dilemma, which is why he founded Paycom Software back in 1998. His solution was to create a software system that handled multiple HR functions from a single, cloud-based system, thereby making it far more attractive to employers.
Paycom's solution has proven to be a big hit with small and medium-sized businesses everywhere. The company now counts more than 17,800 clients on its platform. With more employers signing on every day, Paycom's revenue and profits have been soaring.
Paycom's strong growth rates have certainly caught Wall Street's attention, pushing its stock to a fresh 52-week high. Taking a closer look at the company's performance, it is not hard to figure out why Wall Street is excited. Revenue grew by 35% and exceeded expectations. Net income soared by 80% and also blasted past analyst's projections. Customer retention rates remain strong, and management is guiding for revenue growth of nearly 30% in 2017.
While Paycom's stock is most certainly pricey -- the company's trailing PE ratio is 71 -- I can't help but feel that the blistering revenue growth and soaring profitability more than justify its high valuation. That puts Paycom high on my shopping list, even though shares have already enjoyed a great run.
Apple is still a screaming buy
Travis Hoium (Apple): Critics can criticize Apple's level of innovation or the design of the new iPhone or Macs, but it's tough to criticize the company's incredible earnings machine. The company has a net cash balance of $158.5 million and in the last year earned $45.2 billion. And the company doesn't show any sign of letting up its earnings power.
The iPhone has become such a powerful device that customers are locked into the Apple ecosystem almost from the moment they buy one. And owning an iPhone makes customers more likely to buy a Mac, Apple TV, iPad, or even AirPods. The fact that everything works together so well, and operating system updates come regularly is incredibly valuable if you've ever tried using competitors like Android or Samsung's Smart TV operating system.
With Apple's shares at a 52-week high, the stock isn't as attractive as it was a few months ago, and the 1.7% dividend yield won't wow most investors. But shares still only trade at 16 times trailing earnings, and that's without considering the $158.5 billion in net cash on the balance sheet. The iPhone is also showing no signs of slowing down as a technology powerhouse, and the ecosystem of products and apps surrounding the smartphone will generate value for Apple for the foreseeable future. Even as the largest company in the world, Apple is still a stock worth buying.