Many people set investing goals for 2021. Some likely wanted to increase their exposure to important trends or add some value stocks to their portfolio following last year's big run-up in the stock market.
With that in mind, we asked some of our contributors for stocks they think investors should consider buying as part of their New Year's resolutions. They chose land trust Texas Pacific Land Trust ( TPL ), French energy giant Total ( TTE 0.85% ), and clean energy infrastructure company NextEra Energy Partners ( NEP -1.58% ). Here's why they believe buying these stocks would be a great way for investors to fulfill their New Year's resolutions.
Low risk with high upside
Daniel Foelber (Texas Pacific Land Trust): We're only one week into the new year and the oil and gas industry is already getting some much-needed love from Wall Street. After being the single worst-performing sector in 2018, 2019, and 2020, oil and gas stocks are rallying as prices of WTI crude oil blast past $50 per barrel in response to production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Many companies have improved efficiencies and cut costs so they can generate positive returns when oil is under $40 per barrel. The $50 threshold means sizable profits, which bodes well for many leading producers as well as landowner Texas Pacific Land Trust (TPL).
TPL is one of the safer ways to profit from higher oil prices while limiting downside risk. The company owns 900,000 acres in the Delaware/Permian Basin of eastern New Mexico and West Texas. Companies pay TPL to drill on its land or build a pipeline, and may even purchase water from it for fracking. They also pay it royalties on profits from oil produced on its land. And TPL estimates that less than 10% of its royalty acreage has been developed. In short, TPL will make more money as oil prices rise if producers drill more wells and infrastructure companies build more pipelines and electrical lines.
The advantage of TPL over a drilling or exploration and production company (E&P) is that it has no debt. In fact, it has over $300 million in cash. It also has very few expenses, so its gross profit margin is over 90%. This advantage has helped TPL beat the market over the past few years despite the overall energy sector's underperformance. Although it's trading near an all-time high, TPL offers a low-risk way to capitalize on surging oil prices. It also paid $26 per share in dividends last year and has increased annual special cash dividend distributions for 17 consecutive years.
Two birds with one stone
Reuben Gregg Brewer (Total): As you enter 2021 you can easily achieve two big goals with one stock, assuming you want to invest in out-of-favor stocks and help the world clean up its act. The name to look at on this front is Total, the French integrated energy giant. It is out of favor today because of its historical focus on the oil industry. Oil prices are low and financial results are, indeed, weak. However, that could be a buying opportunity for long-term investors with an income focus, given the fat 7.3% dividend yield. Management continues to say that the dividend is safe so long as oil averages $40 per barrel or better.
The second piece of the allure here is that Total is making some notable changes to its business. It plans to shrink its exposure to oil from 55% of revenue to 35% over the next decade, focusing on just its best assets. Natural gas, which is being used to support the global clean energy transition, will increase from 40% to 50% of sales. And the company's clean energy focused "electrons" division is set to triple in size, going from 5% of the top line to 15%.
Yes, oil is still in the picture and will be for some time. But it is providing the cash to help Total transition its business in a green direction. And, despite the shifts on tap, investors are punishing the stock thanks to that oil exposure. But if you are willing to look at the bigger picture here, an investment in Total could help you clean up financially and environmentally.
A powerful dividend growth plan
Matt DiLallo (NextEra Energy Partners): Renewable energy is a megatrend that investors can't afford to overlook. Forecasters expect the sector to grow at a 15% annual rate over the next decade, and that's without any additional government support. It could grow even faster if countries get serious about cleaning up their economies and accelerating the transition to renewables.
One company that has benefited from the slow shift toward cleaner sources of energy is NextEra Energy Partners. It has expanded rapidly over the years by acquiring wind farms, solar power generating assets, and natural gas pipelines from its parent, utility NextEra Energy ( NEE 1.22% ), as well as third parties. That growth has paid dividends for investors as NextEra Energy Partners has generated a more than 220% total return since its IPO in 2014, nearly double that of the S&P 500.
However, it has plenty of power to continue outperforming, given its ambitious expansion plan. The company expects to grow its dividend -- which already yields an impressive 3% -- at a 12% to 15% annual rate through at least 2024. Powering that plan is its ability to continue acquiring cash flowing clean energy assets. It should have no shortage of opportunities since NextEra Energy is the world's largest wind and solar energy producer and has an expansion project backlog that's even bigger than its existing portfolio. Add that to NextEra Energy Partners' ability to access a range of financing options, and it should have plenty of power to continue generating market-beating total returns. That upside potential from such a fast-growing industry makes it a great stock to buy in 2021 for those looking to fulfill an investing New Year's resolution.