We're in the midst of one of the longest bull market runs in U.S. history. That means a lot of investors have been picking stocks for close to a decade, and chances are, they have generated a positive result. Finding good investments in today's market is a little harder, though, as valuations have increased substantially, and expected rates of return have started to dwindle. That means investors looking for outstanding returns will have to start digging deeper into the market for great buys.
So, we asked three of our contributors to each highlight as a stock that most of Wall Street may not be thinking about today but that could be a great investment. Here's why they picked Cheniere Energy Partners (NYSEMKT:CQP), First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), and Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC).
Turning a hot energy trend into steady income
Tyler Crowe (Cheniere Energy Partners): I think it's safe to say that Cheniere Energy Partners is a much lower-risk investment than it was a few years ago. Instead of being a business built on an unproven idea -- exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. -- it is now a fully functioning export facility that's churning out cash on a regular basis. In fact, with the completion of liquefaction train 4, management reached certain milestones such that it could raise its payout for the first time in a decade.
What makes Cheniere Energy Partners a compelling investment today is that more than 85% of its production is contracted under fixed-fee agreements that guarantee volume commitments from its customers for the next 20 years. That kind of consistent revenue without commodity price risk should ensure Cheniere Energy Partners' payout will be on stable footing for a long time.
What's even more encouraging is that with train 4 now operational and completion of Train 5 expected in mid-2019, there is likely going to be a lot of payout growth over the next two years. With its current payout at 6.2%, that could translate into a formidable income stream in a matter of a few years.
Cheniere Energy Partners doesn't get nearly the same amount of attention as its parent company, but there is a lot of value in shares of the subsidiary today.
A renewable energy leader
Travis Hoium (First Solar): Solar energy is going to have a record year in 2017, potentially topping 100 GW of installations. But it's just beginning to reach its potential, supplying just over 1% of the world's electricity today.
One of the leaders in the solar industry is First Solar, the U.S.-based thin-film manufacturer based. The company makes a panel that's cost-effective for utility-scale solar power plants and has one of the few products that won't be affected by the pending solar trade case before the International Trade Commission.
Operationally, First Solar is about as steady as it gets in solar. The company expects to earn a non-GAAP profit of $2.40 to $2.60 per share in 2017 and will end the year with a net cash balance of $2.1 billion to $2.3 billion.
The industry-leading products and strong balance sheet give First Solar the ability to adapt its business model to serve the industry's needs. Right now, that means upgrading from a product called Series 4 to the new Series 6, which is a much larger panel that's more efficient and will be less costly to install. With the tailwind of a solar industry that's growing at an exponential rate, First Solar is a great stock for investors looking to bet on the future of energy.
57 various ways to growth
Rich Duprey (Kraft Heinz): There's little doubt why Warren Buffett is buying shares of Kraft-Heinz stock: his Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)(NYSE:BRK-B) owns the company. But when you start seeing other really smart investors like Ken Fisher, George Soros, Mario Gabelli, and Joel Greenblatt picking up shares or adding to their holdings of the packaged-foods company, it may be worth checking into.
On the surface, it might not commend itself to following in their footsteps. Kraft Heinz is down 20% from its 52-week high, and it's down over 13% over the past three months. But it's not alone, as J.M. Smucker , Campbell Soup , and other packaged-food companies are down by like amounts or more, and that gives some analysts the idea Kraft Heinz may try to soon become acquisitive. With depressed values in the marketplace, it could be the right time to make a move.
Of course, it could just be Kraft Heinz offers a good value itself that's attracting these smart investors. While trading at a premium to competitors, it holds a premium position in the industry, has the wherewithal to make acquisitions where its weakened rivals may not, and continues to generate strong free cash flow. Also, following Buffett's lead is a hard strategy to bet against.
Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Travis Hoium owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and First Solar. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and First Solar. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool recommends First Solar. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.