The three major U.S. stock indices are currently in the neighborhood of record highs, and while strong market performance is sure to have many investors in a good mood, it also makes finding undervalued stocks that much more challenging. That doesn't mean there aren't still some good buying opportunities, however.
To help readers get on the trail of some potentially cheap stocks, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to spotlight their pick for a company that stands out as a smart value play. Read on to learn why Brookfield Property Partners (BPY), General Motors (GM 1.32%), and IBM (IBM -0.09%) made the list.
Premier real estate for just 70 cents on the dollar
Matt DiLallo (Brookfield Property Partners): Real estate partnership Brookfield Property Partners owns pieces of some of the most iconic properties around the world. These include world-class office assets such as Canary Wharf in London, top-tier retail spaces such as the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, and other well-known properties including the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas. However, despite owning a premier portfolio of properties, Brookfield trades at a significant discount to the value of those assets.
Brookfield's vast portfolio of properties has a current valuation of $65 billion. After factoring out debt, the equity value of the company's real estate investments is $22 billion, or $31 per unit. However, the company's units currently trade for less than $22 apiece, implying that it sells for a hefty 30% discount to the underlying equity value of its assets.
That valuation disconnect alone would make Brookfield an excellent choice for value investors. However, the company also offers investors a compelling combination of growth and income. At the current sub-$22 unit price, investors can lock in an eye-catching current dividend yield of 5.3%. Further, because of a combination of lease escalations and development projects underway, the company estimates that it can grow cash flow per share 8% to 11% per year, which should drive 5% to 8% annual distribution growth. If the company just hits the midpoint of those growth targets, investors stand to earn nearly $23 per unit in distributions and capital appreciation over the next five years. Add it up, and Brookfield Properties Partners has all the makings of a smart investment for value investors.
Drive for value
Dan Caplinger (General Motors): Cyclical businesses often offer great value propositions, and the auto industry's recent strength has become a hotbed for value-investing activity. In particular, General Motors has been a big winner in the expansion in automotive sales that created records in terms of vehicle sales in both 2015 and 2016.
General Motors is best known for its massive bankruptcy filing in the aftermath of the financial crisis, accepting a bailout in order to stay in operation. Yet after emerging from bankruptcy protection, GM is in a stronger position than ever to take advantage of strong industry conditions, having rid itself of some of its most troublesome obligations during the process.
Right now, investors are so convinced that General Motors has hit a cyclical high point that the stock trades at less than six times trailing and forward earnings. That provides an enormous margin of safety for shareholders, even though it's important to remember that the level of leverage General Motors has makes it slightly riskier than your average stock with less debt on its books. Still, even if earnings fall off from current levels, GM's valuation will remain reasonable. That makes the stock a smart value right now, and investors should look closely to see if General Motors makes sense for their portfolios.
Cheap valuation and one of the best dividends in tech
Keith Noonan (IBM): Warren Buffett recently announced that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, had reduced its position in International Business Machines by 30%, but to borrow an adage from the famed Oracle of Omaha, I think investors should look at fears surrounding IBM's future as an opportunity to be greedy in buying up the stock. Shares have dipped roughly 12% over the past month, after first-quarter revenue missed analyst estimates and demand for the company's technology services was weaker than anticipated.
There are legitimate concerns over IBM's 20 consecutive quarters of revenue declines and uncertainty about whether the company's strategic imperatives segment will offset the deterioration of its legacy hardware business, but an inexpensive valuation and strong dividend component suggest that there's a real opportunity here. With a yield of nearly 4% and a 22-year history of annual payout increases, the stock boasts one of the best dividend profiles in the tech sector and trades at just 12.6 times trailing free cash flow and 11 times forward earnings estimates. That's plenty enticing.
While the hardware picture is likely to remain bleak, it's important to remember that the company is in the midst of a transformation to reorient its business for long-term success. IBM's position in emerging technologies, including machine learning and cloud services, and its commendable track record of innovation both suggest that investors have a chance to buy into the company's turnaround story at bargain prices and stack substantial dividend payments along the way.