With our stock market trading near all-time highs today, it might seem crazy to put new investing dollars to work right now. But for value-oriented investors who know where to look, there are always enticing deals to be found.
So we asked three top Motley Fool contributors to choose stocks they believe are ridiculously cheap right now. Read on to see why they picked Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD).
Warm up your portfolio's returns with this industry leader
Steve Symington (Starbucks): Starbucks lost some steam last month as the coffee juggernaut posted seemingly underwhelming fiscal first-quarter 2017 results. And I'll admit Starbucks stock doesn't look "ridiculously cheap" at first glance trading around 23 times forward earnings. Revenue climbed a modest 7% year over year, to $5.7 billion (a new company record) while global comparable-store sales rose "just" 3%. But that was an impressive feat given the difficult restaurant retail market in which Starbucks operates. Trending toward the bottom line, Starbucks' operating margin expanded 10 basis points, to 19.8% (another company record), and adjusted earnings per share grew a healthy 13% year over year, to $0.52.
As Starbucks waits for its business environment to improve, it's taking the opportunity to more effectively win the hearts of new and existing customers. Active membership in the Starbucks Rewards program increased 16% year over year last quarter, to 12.9 million members. And its new Mobile Order and Pay system is seeing rapid adoption, comprising 7% of U.S. company-operated transactions last quarter, up from 3% a year earlier. All told, these and other initiatives should mean Starbucks emerges an even stronger company when current business headwinds abate.
Starbucks also enjoys a surprising runway for new unit growth. At its recent investor day in early December, the company outlined plans to add roughly 12,000 net new stores globally by fiscal 2021, bringing its total store base to a whopping 37,000 locations.
Even so, Starbucks shares are trading down slightly over the past year. After adding up its growth potential with the chance for accelerating same-store sales growth as the macro environment improves, I think investors who buy now and watch Starbucks' long-term story continue to unfold will be more than pleased with their returns.
Value, growth, and income: What's not to love?
Tim Brugger (Intel): It's become a recurring theme: Intel's reliance on the "dying" PC market has left it behind the eight ball. But there are a couple of reasons why that doesn't apply.
The client computing group (CCG) -- home to Intel's PC sales -- ended last quarter up 4% year over year with $9.1 billion in revenue helping to push both fourth-quarter and 2016 annual sales to record levels. Intel's strong PC results came on the heels of 2016's third quarter in which CCG sales climbed 5%. Intel's strong PC results in the fourth quarter were a continuation of the unit's "surprising" strength.
That said, Intel knows its past reliance on PCs will change in the years ahead, which is why its focus is now on cloud-based data centers. Intel's new "data center first" initiative, according to CEO Brian Krzanich, entails becoming "a data center company that builds high-performance racks." The good news is Intel is already dominating the fast-growing market.
Data center revenue grew yet again last quarter and year. For Intel's record-breaking 2016, data centers generated $17.2 billion in sales, up 8% from 2015. And when Intel's Internet of Things (IoT) segment full-year revenue of $2.6 billion -- a 15% year-over-year improvement -- is added to the mix, its future is becoming less about PCs with each passing quarter.
Despite making significant progress in skyrocketing markets and Intel's nearly 3% dividend yield, investors still aren't on board. That may explain why it's trading at a ridiculously cheap 12 times forward earnings.
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Dan Caplinger (Gilead Sciences): Most people tend to think of value stocks as being older, more mature companies in boring industries. Yet despite being in the exciting biotechnology arena, Gilead Sciences has found itself sporting valuations that are commonly seen only among deep-value stocks. Specifically, Gilead currently trades at just seven times its trailing earnings over the past 12 months, which is well below not only the market as a whole but also the healthcare segment more broadly.
Part of the concern about Gilead is that investors expect future earnings declines. Sharp drops in earnings for 2017 could cut more than 25% from its bottom line, and 2018 could also take earnings lower from 2017 levels. Yet even when you take into account expectations for substantial earnings declines, Gilead still trades at less than nine times forward earnings estimates.
The biggest reason for doubt that Gilead investors have is that its hepatitis C drug sales are falling even more rapidly than the company had previously expected. Indeed, the most recent drop in its share price reflected the biotech giant's 2017 guidance, which called for a 40% reduction in sales of hepatitis C treatments. Yet Gilead also has a huge HIV business, and other prospects should be able to pick up some of the slack. That qualifies Gilead as a bargain opportunity at current valuations in anything other than a worst-case scenario for the biotech company.