Are you worried about the recent weakness from the market's key stocks? You're not alone.
There's a curious nuance about these pullbacks, though. That is, growth stocks are the names doing most of the damage. Their oversized run-ups since last March's low are now inspiring some major profit-taking. Value stocks -- which have been lagging for months -- are starting to outperform.
With this serving as the backdrop, investors may want to think about beefing up their exposure to less aggressive, lower-priced companies. General Motors (GM 3.72%), Bank of America (BAC -0.82%), and Western Digital (WDC 2.64%) are among the top value stocks to consider buying sooner than later.
General Motors is facing the same chip shortage other carmakers are. Its challenges, however, go well beyond this near-term headwind. The company's revenue has steadily dwindled since peaking in 2014, and while the COVID-19 pandemic's impact is abating, it's still being felt.
The foreseeable future looks considerably better than the past, however. Along with its first-quarter numbers, GM offered full-year earnings guidance of between $4.50 and $5.25 per share, up from 2020's coronavirus-crimped $4.90 but lower than analysts' more optimistic consensus figure of $5.40 per share. Those same analysts are collectively calling for sales growth in excess of 9% this year, which should accelerate to more than 12% growth in 2022.
The outlook suggests the automobile industry is going to ease back into a growth cycle without ever going through a full-blown sales rout following 2015's "peak auto" sales pace. The thing is, they probably will. The National Automobile Dealers Association believes 15.5 million vehicles will be sold in the U.S. this year, up 7.2% from 2020's suppressed purchases. The rest of the world should fare even better for at least as long. Economic research and forecasting outfit IHS Markit estimates worldwide automobile sale growth of 9% for 2021, followed by 5% next year and then another 4% growth the year after that. That's not bad for a slow-moving business like the car business.
Most amazing of all is that investors can plug into one of the best companies in the business for little more than a song. GM shares are currently priced at just over 11 times this year's expected profits at recent prices.
Bank of America
While Bank of America's sheer size makes it a slow mover, it more than makes up for it with its low stock price. At Thursday's prices, the stock is trading at just under 18 times its trailing profits, and less than 15 times its forward-looking earnings estimates.
It's not a name that needs much of an introduction. B of A rates as the United States' second-biggest bank, offering services ranging from investment brokerage to lending to credit cards to checking accounts, and more. Revenue and profits are rather well distributed across all those business categories.
The coronavirus contagion created complications for the company, but only temporarily. First-quarter revenue net of interest expense bounced back to match the top line produced in the first quarter of 2020. And last quarter's bottom line was more than twice as strong as earnings booked during the comparable quarter a year earlier. Analysts are looking for similar year-over-year profit comps through the remainder of 2021, modeling income of $3.03 per share versus 2020's $1.87.
That's more than enough to fund the current annualized dividend of $0.72 per share, which is another good reason to step into the stock. B of A shares are yielding 1.8% right now,in line with the yields of the biggest U.S. banking stocks, and better than the S&P 500's current average yield of around 1.4%.
Finally, add Western Digital to your list of value stocks to buy right now.
Western Digital of course makes a variety of computer hard drives. There's always a market for its wares. The tricky part is pricing. The computer memory and storage industry is seemingly forever tangled in an overproduction/underproduction trap, unable to find a sustainable balance between the two extremes.
Long-awaited stability may be on the horizon, however.
Despite the bottleneck created by the semiconductor shortage, the company is anticipating revenue of between $4.4 billion and $4.6 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter currently under way, which is expected to produce per-share earnings of between $1.30 and $1.60. For perspective, Western Digital did $4.3 billion worth of business in the comparable quarter a year earlier, when it produced a per-share profit of $1.23.
One healthy quarter doesn't make a trend, but the upcoming quarter's likely growth is a hint of better days ahead. Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore noted following the release of Western Digital's Q3 numbers and Q4 guidance, "Both of WD's markets have turned a corner, as NAND cyclically improves, and WD puts the margin challenges of the 18 [terabyte] transition behind them," echoing Benchmark analyst Mark Miller's comment that he also sees "continued signs of improvement in the NAND market and the global economy" that should make an even bigger impact in the latter half of 2021.
Western Digital's consensus price target of just above $90 is 33% above the stock's current price near $67. Priced at roughly 8 times next year's expected earnings, there's certainly room for a price increase.