There's a lot of uncertainty heading into 2022 as to how strong the stock market will be. Interest rate increases could put pressure on the equity markets as investors may shift to safer investment options (e.g., the bond market).
One way you can minimize your exposure to that risk is by focusing on value. And three stocks that look incredibly cheap right now are Viatris (VTRS -2.59%), Best Buy (BBY -1.18%), and AT&T (T -0.81%). All three are in negative territory this year while the S&P 500 has soared 28%, but here's why buying them now could be a great move.
Viatris is a relatively new stock, having spun out from healthcare giant Pfizer last year. With the company holding off-patent and generic brands, this isn't the type of business that is particularly attractive to growth investors who may be looking for more innovative companies.
But Viatris is by no means stagnant as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July approved Semglee, an insulin drug which is a biosimilar and can be taken as an alternative to Lantus (an insulin drug that Sanofi makes and is among its top-selling products). Viatris also has other biosimilars in its pipeline that are in phase 3 trials or later in multiple therapeutic areas. And so there's still plenty of growth on the horizon for the healthcare company.
The bad news is that Viatris has incurred a $1.9 billion loss on revenue of $17.2 billion over the trailing 12 months. However, in its most recent quarterly results (for the period ended Sept. 30), it posted a profit of $312 million, and analysts are bullish that it will remain profitable.
Meanwhile, the stock trades at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of less than four. That's incredibly cheap compared to Pfizer, where investors are paying a multiple of 14 times future profits for its stock. Viatris expects to achieve synergies of at least $1 billion by 2023 through restructuring efforts, up from $500 million this year, which will help to strengthen its bottom line.
For long-term investors, there's lots of value here and Viatris looks to be a bargain buy right now.
2. Best Buy
For shoppers, Best Buy has been a popular go-to retailer during the pandemic. Through the first three quarters of fiscal 2022 (ended Oct. 31), the company generated $35.4 billion in revenue, up 16.7% from the same time a year ago. It also posted a $1.8 billion profit, up an impressive 86.2% over last year.
The problem is that many analysts are concerned now that supply-chain issues could impact next quarter's numbers and that the business may need to offer more discounts to lure in customers who are shifting their spending to such areas as travel and entertainment. While its full-year comparable sales growth will be between 10.5% and 11.5% this year, Best Buy anticipates that for the latest quarter growth may not be any higher than 1% and may even be negative.
Shares of the company crashed more than 12% on news of the earnings results and uninspiring forecast. But given Best Buy's mammoth growth in profit, there's plenty of room for the business to take a hit on margins (and a dip in sales) and still deliver strong numbers. At a forward P/E of less than 10, the stock looks like a bargain compared to big-box retailer Walmart, which is trading at a multiple of 22.
The third bargain on this list is telecom stock AT&T. There's no shortage of bearishness around the business as it has been undergoing some significant changes of late. It is abandoning WarnerMedia, which it acquired in 2016. That business will now be combining with Discovery (the deal is expected to close in the middle of next year), and investors who own AT&T today will receive shares of the new entity. In August, AT&T announced that it completed the spinoff of its video business, DirecTV, to private equity firm TPG Capital.
While it may sound bad for the company to be shedding so many pieces of its business, in the long run it could well be beneficial for AT&T. Its core communications business is solid and for the quarter ended Sept. 30, it generated an operating profit of $7.1 billion. That's more than triple the $2 billion profit that WarnerMedia contributed during that time. And the company's video business generated just $374 million.
AT&T's stock is down around its 52-week low and is trading at a forward P/E of about 7.4 (vs. 10 for rival Verizon). But once the economy is back to operating in full force (e.g., traveling at pre-pandemic levels), AT&T's business could look much stronger than it does today. Becoming a leaner organization can make this a much more attractive investment for the long haul, especially with how cheap shares of the company are right now.