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Sitting on Cash? These 2 Stocks Are Great Buys.

By Howard Smith – Sep 16, 2021 at 10:00AM

Key Points

  • A good stock doesn't have to be cheap to be a better place for your cash right now.
  • A low-risk company that has also been growing quickly is a good place to invest in stages.
  • This utility isn't your run-of-the-mill power provider.

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Don't just wait for a market correction; think about the big picture.

If you're sitting on cash right now, you're probably only getting about 0.5% interest with an online savings account. If it's a stash of emergency cash, that's what you need to accept. Emergency savings aren't meant to grow.

But if it's investment money and you're just looking for what to buy in this frothy market, you can do better than a savings account. Trying to time the market and wait for a downturn to invest extra cash is counting on luck.

Instead, look at putting that cash into solid companies that pay decent dividends. Here are two that you can consider investing in now -- and even plan to build over time when the market does offer more of a discount.

watering a plant shaped in a dollar sign and turning coin into cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

Costco treats its customers and shareholders well

Customers of Costco Wholesale (COST -2.46%) love to shop at the warehouse retailer. The company has 110 million membership cardholders and a 91% renewal rate in the U.S. and Canada. Costco rewards that customer loyalty with great selections and pricing. And management has that same mentality with employees and shareholders. 

The company was one of the most proactive retailers in raising its starting employee wage to $15 per hour in 2019 -- and it bumped that up to $16 earlier this year. For shareholders, the company pays a modest dividend, but has also rewarded owners with a special dividend four times in the past eight years. That included a $10 per share payout in December 2020 funded by existing cash.

That signal of confidence seems justified with the company reporting almost 18% sales growth in this fiscal year's first three quarters, ended May 9, compared to the prior-year period. That's the kind of increase investors usually see in growth sectors rather than a consumer staples name like Costco. 

The only problem: The stock has also reacted more like a growth name with shares more than tripling over the past five years -- and 37% in just the past 12 months. With those gains, the base dividend now only yields 0.64% at the recent share price. But that's still higher than a typical savings account.

It's also an investment in a proven company with a solid outlook and the history of special dividends. It makes sense to take an initial position today using investable cash -- with plans to build a larger holding when the market next offers a discount. 

power transmission towers with solar panels and wind turbines.

Image source: Getty Images.

NextEra Energy is a utility with a growth arm

Another stock with returns that have outpaced what is typically expected from its sector is NextEra Energy (NEE -1.38%). It might come as a surprise that the largest electric utility in the United States is also a high-flying stock.

NextEra is the parent company of Florida Power & Light as well as Gulf Power. But it also has a renewable energy subsidiary that is growing quickly. The company gives investors returns on cash with a steady (and growing) dividend as well as the opportunity to be invested in the renewables sector. 

As a result, NextEra's earnings and dividends haven't been very utility-like. Since 2005, the company's adjusted earnings per share have grown at an annual rate of almost 9% and its dividend payout has risen at an annual rate of 9.6%. NextEra says it expects to continue raising its dividend by about 10% annually at least through 2022. The company also believes it will deliver EPS growth from 2021 levels at the high end of its 6% to 8% targeted range through 2023. 

While the dividend yield is less than that of many utilities at a recent 1.8%, it's well above what cash in savings accounts will currently return. And the investment brings potential growth with subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources, which invests in renewable energy capacity generation. NextEra says its vision is to be the world's largest, most profitable provider of clean energy.

As with Costco, investors have already bid up shares in NextEra Energy. But that doesn't make it a bad place to put some cash right now while you plan to add to the investment at a better valuation in the future. 

Howard Smith owns shares of NextEra Energy. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool recommends NextEra Energy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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