There's no denying that the underlying "stories" of many growth stocks make them exciting for investors to own. This excitement typically ends up translating into rich valuations.
This is never a small conundrum for the cost-minded investing crowd, but it has become a tricky situation for all investors right now in the wake of the S&P 500's 100%-plus rally since March 2020's low. Too many stocks these days just feel a little bit more expensive than they should.
If your comfort level with the market's darlings isn't all that high right now but you've still got some idle cash you'd like to put to work, there are still a few value stocks to consider sooner rather than later. Let's talk about three of them and why they should be able to sidestep the brunt of any pullback that might upend this current red-hot growth stock rally.
1. Tyson Foods: A big picture view shows plenty of upside
P/E ratio: 11.7
Meat company Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) seems forever challenged by its market environment. From price-fixing accusations to foreign-trade impasses to uncontrollable supply/demand imbalances, there's always lots to unpack here. Investors generally aren't fans of such drama, even when it works in their favor.
All investors may want to take a step back, however, and look at this company's bigger picture. While it's not without its ups and downs, operating income and per-share profits grow far more often than not, and by more than you might suspect. Trailing-12-month operating profits of $3.45 billion are nearly three times more than Tyson was producing 10 years ago, while its annualized earnings of $6.53 per share are up by the same degree for the same time frame. That's not bad at all for a chicken and beef producer in a highly competitive, commoditized market. People always need to eat; sometimes it can just take a while for supply and demand to stabilize at prices both consumers and food companies can live with.
Tyson may never produce thrilling growth. With shares priced at roughly 11 times next year's projected profits, though, this stock offers plenty of long-term, low-risk upside.
2. U.S. Bancorp: Not the biggest, but maybe a better bargain
P/E ratio: 12.0
From a distance, most bank stocks look more or less the same. And, it's not out of line to suggest the biggest names in the banking business -- like Bank of America or Wells Fargo -- are the go-to names for investors looking to round out their portfolios with a stock from the financial sector. After all, these are the biggest banks for a reason.
Investors just might find better bargains as well as better opportunities, however, with a less obvious banking pick.
Enter U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB). The $83 billion company operates 2,274 branches where most of the bank's 70,000-plus employees tend to nearly $560 billion worth of assets. All four of those metrics are dwarfed by the aforementioned Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
U.S. Bancorp enjoys something of an edge due to its smaller size, though. That is, it's nimbler and better focused on efforts that uniquely work to its advantage.
Case in point: Although it's not the sort of business most mid-tier banks would even attempt to get into, U.S. Bancorp has carved out a nice piece of the payments market. Payment-acceptance solutions for merchants are part of its repertoire, as are a surprising number of payment services options for consumers. It would be a stretch to say U.S. Bancorp's payment platforms are as well-known or as widespread as brands like PayPal or Square. But its suite of payment platforms looks more like a top-tier competitor and less like the low-cost, self-service offerings from PayPal or Square. U.S. Bancorp is now bolstering its offer to merchants too, announcing on Monday it intends to acquire fintech company Bento Technologies.
The bank's presence within the payments market isn't a reason in and of itself to own a stake in the company. It's a hint, however, of how this mid-sized banking company is successfully differentiating itself.
3. Comcast: Building a self-contained content and distribution ecosystem
P/E ratio: 20.7
Finally, add Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to your list of value stocks to buy in September.
If you're familiar with the company at all, then you probably know that its Xfinity cable television business -- like its cable TV competitors' -- is shrinking due to cord-cutting. Thus far Comcast has been able to offset this attrition by expanding its broadband business, but CFO Mike Cavanagh conceded at a conference recently hosted by Bank of America that Comcast's broadband business growth is set to slow as well now that the market is highly saturated. Shares fell more than 7% on Tuesday following the news, and understandably so.
Largely being overlooked by investors, however, is how little both of these business segments contribute to the company's overall revenue mix. Through the first two quarters of the year, broadband makes up around 20% of Comcast's total business, while cable TV accounts for about the same. The rest of its top line comes from Universal movies and theme parks, NBC television, and Europe's television brand Sky. It's even building a wireless phone business. It can deal with a slowdown on the broadband front.
Even more overlooked is how Comcast is building a self-contained content and distribution ecosystem that may well overcome broadband and cable TV headwinds. Cavanagh broadly pointed out at the same banking conference that the optimal monetization of Universal films following their theatrical release is by leveraging it to promote Comcast's streaming service Peacock, and then licensing it to rival streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
This one realization isn't necessarily a game-changer for the company. Yet it's a microcosm of how Comcast's management has been imagining ways to address as many customers as possible within its own distribution framework before partnering with competitors. The best of this new philosophy has yet to be realized.
The current/trailing P/E ratio of 20.7 doesn't quite qualify Comcast as a value name, but that's a misleading number. The forward-looking P/E of 14.6 is a more accurate depiction of how this stock is currently priced.