Value stocks warrant a place in nearly every portfolio, and can be found in virtually every industry. But what attributes does a value stock need to have to make it worth consideration by every investor? Here are three names that will help answer that question: legacy technology company IBM (NYSE:IBM), automaker General Motors (NYSE:GM), and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN).
Look beyond the trees
Tim Brugger (IBM): Sometimes just being in the "wrong" industry is all it takes for a stock to come under pressure, which often translates to a value opportunity. In the case of IBM, patience may be all that's needed as the company continues its sweeping transformation away from legacy hardware to burgeoning markets.
IBM's transformation includes focusing on the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), cognitive computing -- sometimes referred to as artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning -- and data security markets. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty refers to the upstart markets as strategic imperatives, which, though investors wouldn't know it from the stock price, are flying high.
Last quarter's total revenue dropped 3% year over year, to $18.2 billion, marking the 20th straight quarter of declines. The negative sales trend was the big news following the earnings release on April 18 and helped drive IBM's stock price down 10% since the report. The recent share-price easing has made an already good buy an even better bargain for every investor in search of value.
An impressive 43% of IBM's revenue last quarter came from its strategic imperatives segment, which continues to climb. IBM is tracking at a whopping $14.6 billion in cloud sales annually, and better still, $8.6 billion of that -- a 59% improvement -- are cloud service sales, which is where the real opportunities lie.
Considering IBM's nearly 4% dividend yield, tremendous growth potential, and current valuation of just 11 times forward earnings, it offers something for every investor.
This American icon sells for just 5.2 times earnings
Rich Smith (General Motors): Now that the long-awaited downturn in auto sales has finally arrived, General Motors (NYSE:GM) is starting to feel a sales pinch. Last week, GM saw its May sales results slide 1.3%, the worst performance of any of America's Big Three automakers. Retail sales of GMC-model vehicles in particular took a 6.9% hit (relative to May 2016 sales).
And yet, far from declining, GM stock actually rose on the news. In trading last week, GM shares gained 5%, closing the week at $34.45, regaining their recent May peak. Why might that be?
Call me a crazy optimist, but I think it might be because GM stock is cheap.
Based on trailing-12-month earnings, GM shares now cost only 5.2 times earnings. And yet, while sales slipped last month, analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence don't expect the company to suffer much of a hit to earnings. Projections call for GM's 2017 profits to decline by less than 2% (to $5.89 per share) this year -- then rebound to $5.99 in 2018, and keep climbing from there. Over the next five years, analysts expect to see GM grow its profits at an average rate of 10% per year.
Ordinarily, a stock trading for 5.2 times earnings -- and growing at a percentage rate nearly twice that -- would be the very definition of a "value stock." In fact, in GM's case, with a PEG ratio as low as 0.52, I might go so far as to call GM a deep value stock. And when you top off this deeply discounted valuation with a 4.4% dividend yield, I think GM is a value stock that I think every investor should consider owning.
This big pharma is ridiculously cheap based on its long-term outlook
George Budwell (AstraZeneca): The British big pharma AstraZeneca hasn't been a name on value investors' collective radars of late because of the company's struggles with the patent cliff. Over the past few years Astra has lost exclusivity for top sellers such as Crestor, Nexium, and Seroquel. But things are definitely looking up at this big pharma with the rollout of its next-generation cancer drugs Imfinzi, Tagrisso, and Lynparza.
The key takeaway is that Astra's management believes the company's shares are currently trading at a paltry 1.92 times projected 2023 revenue -- thanks to a string of clinical successes in the high-growth oncology space. Even if this assumption is only partly true, that's a steal for a pharma stock that pays a sky-high yield of over 5%.
The downside is that numerous competitors are trying to move in on Astra's emerging oncology franchise. And the company's lead immuno-oncology drug, Imfinzi, has had some costly clinical setbacks putting the drugmaker well behind industry leads Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co. in the race to gobble up market share for the most lucrative indications. The point is that there are some good reasons to doubt that Astra can truly more than double its annual revenue as planned by 2023 at the earliest, especially with the drugmaker trimming its oncology pipeline in a big way late last year.
All things considered, though, I think investors have probably overreacted to Astra's ongoing battle with generic medications entering the market for its trio of former star drugs, and its hiccups in the clinic. Imfinzi, after all, does appear to be on track to be the company's next flagship product -- just as management predicted a few years ago. And it has an extremely robust clinical pipeline even beyond this high-profile product candidate. Point-blank: Astra is deeply undervalued based on its long-term outlook, arguably making it an exceedingly attractive value play for any investor.