Despite some recent volatility, the S&P 500 index continues to trade near all-time highs, making it harder to find "cheap" stocks to buy. That said, there are always some names that have lagged behind and may, in fact, be fairly attractive possibilities.
Three stocks that you might want to put on your buy list today are industrial giant 3M (NYSE:MMM), food maker Hormel (NYSE:HRL), and nursing home landlord Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE:OHI). Let's discuss why now might be the time to pick up one (or all) of these three stocks for your portfolio.
1. 3M: Research will eventually win
The S&P 500 Index has risen roughly 19% so far this year, making the roughly 4.4% gain from 3M seem unimpressive. That said, the stock's dividend yield is up around 3.25%, which is more than twice what's on offer from the index, and toward the high end of 3M's historical yield range. Using yield as a proxy for value, the shares look like they could be worth buying today.
That yield is backed by over six decades of annual dividend increases, making 3M a Dividend King. It clearly places a high value on returning value to shareholders via dividends. The business itself is highly diversified, with operations that span the safety & industrial (35% of segment profits), transportation & electronics (25%), healthcare (24%), and consumer sectors (the remainder). And those are just the high-level designations the company uses to explain its massive product lineup.
However, one key piece that spans across everything the company does is research and development. 3M has a long history of taking advances in one area and using them to enhance the others. However, the process isn't fast, and the company's results tend to wax and wane over time, as you'd expect from a cyclical industrial company. So when this stock gets cheap, investors need to act because the 3M R&D model has worked time and time again and the shares will likely shine again soon enough.
2. Hormel: Inflation will pass
Next up is protein-focused food maker Hormel, which owns iconic brands from SPAM to recently acquired Planters. The company has increased its dividend every year for 55 consecutive years, making it a Dividend King as well. However, it's probably best to view the company as a brand manager and not a food maker. Notably, it has a broad reach across the grocery store and a huge portfolio of brands that each hold the No. 1 or No. 2 position in their respective segments. That and the company's focus on product innovation and marketing give it a lot of clout with grocery stores. And, somewhat unique in the food space, Hormel also has a direct selling force in the foodservice space, further diversifying its product lineup.
The problem today appears to be inflation, which is wreaking havoc throughout the supply chain. It's an issue to monitor, but historically, Hormel has been able to pass such costs on to consumers over time. Thus the hit (if it comes) is likely to be temporary.
That hasn't stopped investors from pushing the stock price down about 10% so far this year, and the yield up to 2.3%. That dividend yield may not seem huge on an absolute basis, but it is historically high for Hormel and suggests that it might be a good time to step aboard this reliable dividend payer.
3. Omega Healthcare: A bit more risk
The last name here, real estate investment trust (REIT) Omega Healthcare Investors, will probably be more of an acquired taste. It offers a huge 8.5% yield. Like the yields of the other two names above, that's toward the high end of the company's historical yield range. That said, there's a really good reason for it being so big.
Omega owns senior housing properties, with a heavy focus on nursing homes (nearly 80% of its portfolio). These properties have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with occupancy falling and costs rising. Although the company's tenants are seeing slow improvement, there are very real concerns that it won't be quick enough to stave off a dividend cut. In fact, at this point, the REIT has three tenants that simply aren't paying rent. With a second-quarter adjusted-funds-from-operations-payout ratio of about 80%, there's some room for adversity, but it could get tight.
That said, the long-term demographic trends of an aging country support the company's business, and a dividend cut appears to be priced in to the stock right now. With share prices down about 13.2% so far this year, more aggressive types might want to take a look.
Every stock has some warts
Investing is about balancing risk and reward, with every stock having a bit of both. For conservative long-term dividend investors, 3M and Hormel are both trading at historically attractive yield levels thanks to their market-lagging performances this year. They are worth adding to your portfolio at these levels, even if you have to cover your eyes when you hit the buy button. More aggressive types, meanwhile, might want to look at Omega -- its business is challenged today, but it is still well-positioned to benefit from the aging of society over the long term. Just go in knowing that there's a risk of a dividend cut if the current industry troubles continue to linger.