The stock market is putting a premium on growth stocks at the moment, leaving many slower-growing but profitable companies in the dust. For investors looking for value stocks, there are some cheap buys today.
If we think about stocks being cheap in terms of companies that are profitable, stable, and trade for a reasonable price-to-earnings multiple, Verizon (VZ -1.38%), General Mills (GIS 0.25%), and Whirlpool (WHR 0.52%) are some of the cheapest stocks on the market.
Let's find out a bit more about these three cheap stocks and whether they are worth buying in 2021.
Cell phone service might as well be considered a consumer staple at this point because it's become an essential service in most people's lives. For Verizon, that gives the company a stable set of customers who value their industry-leading network. It's from this stable, profitable foundation that I think there's a lot of room for Verizon to grow.
What Verizon has been investing in for a few years now is the 5G network that will be the next generation of the company's growth. 5G enables new technology and connections like autonomous vehicles, VR, and even home wireless internet. This should help grow revenue, and if 5G can command a premium it could help push margins higher.
From a value standpoint, Verizon's shares trade for just 13 times earnings, and investors are getting a 4.4% yield on the quarterly dividend. That's incredibly cheap, and yet rewarding, in today's market, especially for an essential service like cellphone service.
2. General Mills
A real consumer staple stock is General Mills, the maker of dozens of popular food brands, including Cheerios cereal, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and Yoplait yogurt. The company isn't going to be a big-time growth stock, but it's stable, even in the midst of a pandemic.
You can see in the chart below that the company has actually grown in the past year as people have eaten more at home and spent less eating out.
Some of the tailwinds of 2020 may not be permanent, but during that year, General Mills showed how durable its business is. And the stock is relatively cheap given how strong it is. Shares trade for 14.2 times trailing earnings and the dividend yield is 3.7%.
Lots of growth stocks are trading for price-to-sales multiples higher than General Mills' price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple, showing just how cheap the stock is. But it's the stability of the food business and the dividends coming from General Mills that would allow me to sleep at night in a market where bubbles seem to be forming everywhere.
Home appliances aren't exactly a growth business, but they're highly profitable for companies that can make products efficiently. And Whirlpool is the market leader.
You can see below that, like Verizon and General Mills, this isn't going to be a growth stock. But investors are getting shares for cheap with a P/E ratio of just 14. The company also pays a consistent dividend, currently yielding 2.46%.
The appliance market is extremely mature and difficult for newcomers to disrupt, which is actually a strength of a company like Whirlpool. We can reasonably assume that Whirlpool will be an industry leader 10, 20, even 30 years from now with relatively stable earnings over that time.
If you're looking for a cheap, albeit boring, company to own for the long term, Whirlpool should be on your list.
Everyone needs some cheap stocks
At this point in the market, cheap stocks provide some downside assurance for investors who may have seen their growth stocks go through the roof. Companies like Verizon, General Mills, and Whirlpool may not be exciting to follow on a day-to-day basis, but they're also not going to collapse if the market or economy go through a major downturn. Given their earnings multiples and essential nature, these are cheap stocks I think investors should give a hard look in 2021.