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3 Top Value Stocks to Buy in September

By Rich Duprey – Updated Sep 9, 2021 at 9:38AM

Key Points

  • There are more than a few puffs remaining in this tobacco stock's future.
  • This consumer products staple could help your portfolio clean up.
  • A firearms manufacturer trading at a steep discount is nothing new, but is a great buy anyway.

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These three companies are contrarian stocks that could pay off big for patient investors.

With the S&P 500 up 20% in 2021 and trading at record levels, investors might suspect stocks that went in the opposite direction this year have something seriously wrong with them. If a rising tide is generally lifting all boats, sinking ships will only weigh down your portfolio.

While some stocks like that could be busted businesses, others are only dealing with temporary displacements. That's true of the three stocks below, and they give investors an opportunity to buy them at a discounted price.

Pocket watch sitting on $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

Altria Group

Although Altria Group (MO -0.92%) has outpaced the market index gains so far this year, shares remain well below the highs hit several years ago and the tobacco giant still faces a number of headwinds that are holding it back. 

There have been the regulatory attacks on its investment in leading electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs, while the heated tobacco device IQOS from Philip Morris International that it's responsible for manufacturing and selling in the U.S. has come under competitive threats.

And there's been the long-standing threat to its traditional cigarette business, which continues to decline. So it's only recently the tobacco giant's shares have battled their way higher again from these setbacks.

For all the gains, though, Altria's stock still trades at 20 times trailing earnings and just 10 times next year's estimates. It continues to generate cash, with nearly $2 billion in the bank and producing nearly $6 billion in free cash flow. The Marlboro cigarette brand maker also has the hidden asset of its Cronos Group investment, the marijuana producer with which it hasn't done very much at the moment.

Because it pays a hefty dividend that yields 6.7% currently, investors are rewarded for their patience as Altria figures out its next move to grow further in the future.

Shopper looking at bleach bottle in store

Image source: Getty Images.

Clorox

Few would argue bleach maker Clorox (CLX -1.10%) has been a huge disappointment to investors over the past year, especially because it arguably should have enjoyed far better gains during the pandemic. Now that the COVID-19 outbreak appears increasingly in the rearview mirror, whatever early tailwinds Clorox seemingly enjoyed have died down and there's been little to suggest it will pick back up. 

Some 18 months out from the start of the pandemic, Clorox sales are falling by double-digit rates on an organic basis and management is forecasting full-year profits to be far below what Wall Street anticipated. So am I trying to suggest this is a value stock to buy now? Yes!

Although fiscal fourth-quarter sales were down 9% from the year ago period, they are up 10% over 2019 and are 18% higher for the two-year stack over the 12-month period. That's an 8.7% compound annual increase -- which compares much more favorably to its historical gains, which are about half that rate.

So it did get a bounce from the pandemic, and it is still expanding. While its stickiness may have been oversold (I was guilty of it, too), Clorox remains a household staple. It's also consistently rewarded shareholders with a dividend that's yielding 2.7% annually. Having paid one for over 50 years and raising it every year since 1977, Clorox is a Dividend Aristocrat and a value stock to consider buying now.

Sturm, Ruger

Firearms stocks are taking it on the chin lately, despite overwhelming demand for their products, and Sturm, Ruger (RGR 1.14%) may be one that's just too cheap to pass up. 

Some see the supposed slowdown in FBI criminal background checks on potential gun buyers as evidence the firearms boom is over, but the data actually indicates the checks remain at record levels. Just because they're not surpassing the all-time record set last year doesn't mean demand isn't still large.

As adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, background checks are only about 10% below 2020's level, but are over 50% higher than 2019 and some 28% over 2016, the previous record year.

Ruger's sales also continue to grow, and because neither it nor rival Smith & Wesson Brands sells directly to the public, but rather only to federally licensed firearms dealers, and the dealers are reporting low inventory levels, there remains substantial room for growth.

Despite that, Ruger trades at nine times trailing earnings and just 12 times estimates, while its enterprise value goes for a minuscule seven times the free cash flow it produces. Although the gunmaker's FCF rarely trades at a premium to its EV, it remains cheap nonetheless.

The industry faces some challenges, including aggressive state-level prosecutors who want to do an end-run around the federal liability immunity gunmakers enjoy, but that is a threat still far in the future and investors could enjoy gains right now. Sturm, Ruger pays a dividend equal to 40% of its net income, which has it yielding a healthy 4.5% annually at the moment, making it worth an investor's time to wait for the stock's valuation to catch up with its potential.

Rich Duprey owns shares of Altria Group, Clorox, and Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Altria Group Stock Quote
Altria Group
MO
$47.19 (-0.92%) $0.44
Sturm, Ruger & Company Stock Quote
Sturm, Ruger & Company
RGR
$61.94 (1.14%) $0.70
Clorox Stock Quote
Clorox
CLX
$149.02 (-1.10%) $-1.66
Philip Morris International Stock Quote
Philip Morris International
PM
$103.48 (-0.79%) $0.82
Smith & Wesson Brands Stock Quote
Smith & Wesson Brands
SWBI
$12.06 (-2.66%) $0.33
Cronos Group Stock Quote
Cronos Group
CRON
$3.50 (1.16%) $0.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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