It's been quite the bounce-back rally for investors. In the nearly 18 months since the S&P 500 bottomed out during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the widely followed index has more than doubled.
Yet according to Wall Street, some stocks still have plenty of room to fly. But it's not the typical array of growth stocks that analysts see ascending to the heavens. What might surprise you is that some of the biggest projected gainers are dividend stocks.
Based on the highest-listed price target by an analyst or investment bank on Wall Street, the following three dividend stocks could offer upside ranging between 133% and 155%.
Micron Technology: Implied upside of 133%
The first company, memory and storage solutions provider Micron Technology ( MU -1.52% ), might come as a bit of a surprise because the company hasn't paid a dividend in a quarter of a century. This changed in early August when it announced it was initiating a $0.10 quarterly payout. While Micron's 0.5% annual yield isn't much, it's still 0.5% more than shareholders have received since 1996.
The real jaw-dropper here is that Wall Street's loftiest price target has the company galloping higher to $172 a share. This implies upside of up to 133% based on where Micron closed on Sept. 15.
Why the bullishness? One answer can be found on the demand side of the equation. Micron, which is known for DRAM and NAND memory and storage solutions, has seen strong demand in all of its end markets as the world bounces back from the coronavirus recession.
For example, the steady shift of businesses moving data into the cloud prior to the pandemic kicked into overdrive as workforces have gone remote. This means more storage needs in data centers than ever before.
Likewise, the work-from-home/stay-at-home climate has reinvigorated personal computer sales. Micron is counting on high-teens growth in PC and notebook memory solutions in 2021.
To build on this point, Micron is benefiting immensely from next-generation technology and upgrade cycles. For instance, Micron recorded its third consecutive quarter of record sales to the auto industry in its latest quarter. The company's solutions are used to support in-vehicle entertainment and various driver-assist applications.
There's also the growing memory needs of 5G smartphones. A multiyear device-replacement cycle bodes well for the company.
Another reason Micron is on Wall Street's radar is the consolidation of DRAM. Three major players -- Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron -- effectively supply all of the world's DRAM. With the market down to a handful of players, oversupply isn't the issue it once was. While this is still a highly cyclical industry, we seem to be in the early stages of a new bull cycle.
Though $172 may prove a bit aggressive as a price target for Micron, its exceptionally low forward-year earnings multiple of less than seven suggests it offers meaningful upside.
Kinross Gold: Implied upside of 135%
A second dividend stock with significant potential, according to Wall Street, is gold-miner Kinross Gold ( KGC 0.69% ). If the highest price target, which sits in the upper $13s, were to come to fruition, Kinross would return a cool 135% to its shareholders, based on where it closed on Sept. 15. It's also parsing out a 2.1% annual yield.
This extreme bull case for Kinross appears to involve both macroeconomic and company-specific factors.
On a broader level, the outlook for physical gold has rarely, if ever, been this lustrous. Historically low bond yields and nonexistent bank certificate of deposit (CD) yields have made it difficult for conservative investors to generate safe income that'll top the prevailing inflation rate. At the same time, we've watched inflation (i.e., the rising price for goods and services) pick up to more than one-decade highs in recent months.
All of these factors suggest investors will consider buying physical gold as a store of value. Put simply, if the price per ounce of gold rises, Kinross and its peers will benefit.
As for Kinross Gold, it offers a compelling production-growth story, as well as an intriguing project portfolio. Although its Mauritanian mine Tasiast has been a headache at times, and the company's all-in sustaining costs (AISC) rose following a fire in the mine this past June, the long-term economics of Tasiast are compelling.
The Tasiast 21k project, which stands for 21,000 tonnes of daily throughput capacity, should be on track by the first quarter of 2022, while Tasiast 24k (you guessed it, 24,000 tonnes of daily throughput) should be reached by mid-2023. This could nearly double output at the mine and lower AISC to just $560 per gold ounce.
For some context, physical gold is about $1,800 an ounce right now. When combined with steady performance from top-producing mine Paracatu, Kinross sees output growing from 2.1 million gold equivalent ounces (GEO) in 2021 to 2.9 million GEO by 2023.
Kinross' projects are also expected to move the needle. The Gil pits east of the Fort Knox mine should yield 160,000 GEO over a two-year mine life (production should commence in the fourth quarter of this year). Meanwhile, the La Coipa mine should see its first output in mid-2022 and is expected to deliver an aggregate of 690,000 GEO in three years.
Kinross looks reasonably cheap based on its cash flow, but a 135% gain could be a tall order without a strong rally in the price of gold.
Viatris: Implied upside of 155%
However, the crème de la crème of dividend-stock upside, at least for this list, is brand-name and generic-drug company Viatris ( VTRS 0.00% ). Wall Street's highest price target calls for Viatris to hit $35 a share, implying a potential increase of up to 155%. To boot, investors are already receiving the juiciest payout on this list at 3.2%.
If the Viatris name doesn't ring a bell, don't beat yourself up. The company was officially formed less than a year ago by combining Pfizer's established brands unit Upjohn with generic-drug producer Mylan. More than likely, the high-water estimate on Wall Street sees many of the ambitious strategic initiatives surrounding this deal coming to fruition in the coming years.
As is common when two large companies or divisions combine, there's the expectation of cost synergies. Being able to eliminate operating redundancies will reduce Viatris' expenses by approximately $500 million in 2021 and well over $1 billion by 2023. As these savings build up, it'll allow the company more flexibility to pay down debt. By 2023, the company expects to have repaid $6.5 billion of its debt, or about a quarter of the $26 billion in debt it had when Viatris was formed.
Of course, Viatris' management team has more on its mind than simply paying down debt. In addition to continuing a number of biosimilar programs already underway, the company has strongly hinted at reigniting its internal development engine after 2023. This would mean researching novel compounds and really kick-starting high-margin brand-name drug growth. Because the company has diversified global reach, adding novel therapies to its lineup of generics and biosimilars could create a cash cow.
And don't forget what Mylan brings to the table with its generics. While generic drugmakers rarely get any buzz due to the lower margins associated with lower-priced "copycats," demand for generics should continue to rise globally as physicians, consumers, and insurers look to reduce their costs with brand-name drug prices rapidly rising. Volume won't be an issue for Viatris.
Lastly, it's downright inexpensive. Shares of the company can be scooped up for less than four times forecasted earnings per share in 2021 and 2022. Though it could take some time, a $35 price target may be achievable for Viatris.