Ready or not, a raging bull market is coming. This might be tough to grasp, considering that we just navigated our way through an unprecedented pandemic and the worst economic downturn in decades. But multiple catalysts are aligning under President Biden, and they're generally all good news for equities.
Historically low lending rates are probably here to stay for at least the next three years. When coupled with multiple rounds of fiscal stimulus from Washington, it's the perfect recipe for companies to borrow cheaply in order to hire, innovate, and acquire.
However, the early stages of an economic recovery are often dominated by the outperformance of value stocks. The following five deeply discounted stocks could be perfect additions to your portfolio during a Biden bull market.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
If you want a truly cheap stock that offers abundant turnaround potential, look no further than brand-name and generic-drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA -1.86%). With Teva contending with a handful of lawsuits from U.S. regulators, its forward price-to-earnings ratio has sunk to about 5. That's insanely low for a company with a rich history of profits.
As a shareholder, I like to think of CEO Kare Schultz as the company's secret weapon. Schultz is a turnaround specialist. In his three years at the helm, he's managed to slash Teva's operating expenses by roughly $3 billion, and he's reduced the company's net debt from over $34 billion to less than $24 billion. With the company still exploring the sale of noncore assets and using some of its operating cash flow to pay down debt, it looks on track to dip below $15 billion in net debt by 2023. In other words, Teva is on considerably better financial footing than it was four years ago.
It should also benefit for decades from an aging U.S. and global population. With brand-name drug list prices soaring, Teva can thrive as one of the top generic-drug producers. Its broad-based generic portfolio also has the potential to be used as leverage to settle many of its outstanding lawsuits (i.e., Teva can agree to provide certain generics for free, or well below cost, to the U.S.). A pathway to big gains exists for Teva with Biden in the White House.
I'm well aware that IBM (IBM 0.36%) is viewed as a tech dinosaur on Wall Street, but you're going to struggle to find a more profitable tech stock valued at less than 10 times forward earnings.
The downside of IBM is that the company waited far too long to switch from legacy hardware and software to the cloud. It's been paying for this lack of vision for much of the past decade, with sales declining on a fairly persistent year-over-year basis since 2012.
But there's good news. Slowly but surely, IBM's cloud-based revenue as a percentage of total sales is climbing. Legacy software and services remain challenged, but total cloud revenue jumped 10% to $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. This works out to 37% of the company's total revenue during the quarter. The company's cloud and cognitive software profit margins nearly hit 80% in Q4 2020. That's light-years ahead of every other IBM operating segment. As cloud continues to grow into a larger percentage of IBM's sales, its operating cash flow will expand much more quickly.
What's more, IBM hasn't been shy about making accretive purchases. Last year, it bought seven companies that specialize in the hybrid cloud or artificial intelligence. Look for IBM to continue leaning on inorganic growth to bolster its highest-margin operating segment.
A significant number of gold stocks could qualify as value plays these days, but SSR Mining (SSRM -3.61%) could be the biggest bargain of them all.
On a macro level, gold stocks should benefit from a number of tailwinds for physical gold. For example, historically low lending rates have created few avenues where income seekers can find yields that top inflation. Additionally, ongoing fiscal stimulus and the Fed's quantitative easing measures are ballooning the nation's debt and money supply. These factors make physical gold all the more lustrous.
More specific to SSR Mining, it completed a merger of equals with Turkey's Alacer Gold in 2020. This move nearly doubled the company's potential annual gold equivalent output, and it brought the cost-efficient Copler mine (80% owned by Alacer) under its umbrella. With gold prices higher, the new SSR Mining is capable of $450 million in annual free cash flow over the next two or three years.
SSR also happens to be one of a very small number of gold miners with a net cash position. This large cash pile, coupled with skyrocketing cash flow, means SSR will begin paying a $0.05 dividend each quarter beginning in Q1 2021.
Having followed the gold industry for more than a decade, I've learned that a multiple of 10 times operating cash flow is a fair valuation. SSR Mining isn't even trading at a multiple of 5 times cash flow in 2021.
AGNC Investment Corp.
Income investors should continue to pound the table on mortgage real estate investment trusts (REITs) during the early years of a Biden bull market. That's why AGNC Investment Corp. (AGNC -3.50%), which continues to trade slightly below its tangible book value, should be on your buy list.
Mortgage REITs make their money by borrowing capital at a low short-term rate and purchasing higher-yielding long-term assets, like mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The difference between this higher long-term yield and shorter-term borrowing rate is known as the net interest margin (NIM). The higher the NIM, the more money AGNC Investment can generate.
Typically, we see the yield curve flatten prior to a recession and steepen for many years during the early to middle stages of an economic recovery. When the yield curve steepens, which is what's happening now, the NIM for mortgage REITs is expanding.
Furthermore, AGNC almost exclusively buys agency-only assets ($96.6 billion of $97.9 billion in total assets). These are assets protected by the federal government in the event of default. Although the yields on agency assets are considerably lower than nonagency securities, the added protection afforded to agency securities allows AGNC investment to use leverage to pump up its profits.
One final deeply discounted stock to scoop up for the Biden bull market is pharmacy chain CVS Health (CVS -0.19%). Investors can scoop up shares of CVS for less than 10 times Wall Street's projected forward-year earnings.
Over the past year, CVS Health has been clobbered by reduced foot traffic tied to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as increasing competition from online pharmacies. However, there are a number of tailwinds in the company's immediate future that could allay these concerns.
One thing to consider about CVS Health is that it acquired health-benefits provider Aetna in 2018. Instead of growing horizontally like some of its peers, CVS thought outside the box and purchased a health insurance giant. The realized cost synergies from this deal grow each year and incentivize Aetna's more than 20 million members to stay within the CVS Health network. It also doesn't hurt that Aetna's organic growth boosted CVS' razor-thin operating margins.
CVS plans to combat online pharmacies by further emphasizing the importance of in-person customer service and interaction. It will open approximately 1,500 of its HealthHUB health clinics across the country over the coming years, with a focus on connecting chronically ill patients with physicians and specialists. These are the types of customers CVS wants to win over for the long run.
If you want bargains amid this raging bull market, these are five great companies to consider buying.