I follow quite a lot of companies, so the usefulness of a watchlist to me cannot be overstated. Without my watchlist, I'd be unable to keep up on my favorite sectors and see what's really moving the market. Even worse, I'd be lost when the time came to choose which stock I'm buying or shorting next.
Today is Watchlist Wednesday, so I'm discussing three companies that have crossed my radar in the past week -- and at what point I may consider taking action on these calls with my own money. Keep in mind that these aren't concrete buy or sell recommendations, nor do I guarantee I'll take action on the companies being discussed weekly. What I can promise is that you can follow my real-life transactions through my profile and that I, like everyone else here at The Motley Fool, will continue to hold the integrity of our disclosure policy in the highest regard.
Today I want to focus on three deep-value plays on my radar.
Gilbert Gottfried may no longer be the voice of the Aflac duck, but that doesn't seem to be stopping people from purchasing supplemental health insurance in droves.
Insurers across the board haven't performed well for a myriad of reasons. An earthquake in Japan in 2011 and weather-related disasters have dragged down earnings at traditional property and casualty insurers like Allstate (NYSE:ALL), while record-low interest rates are hampering annuity and investment portfolio fixed-income gains for all insurers, including Aflac.
But before you run for the exits, consider that the Affordable Care Act should help lower health care costs in 2014 and will more than likely give supplemental health plan seekers the extra cash needed to purchase these plans. Also, Aflac pays out one of the safest dividends in the sector and is currently yielding 2.7% after reporting record third-quarter results and raising its 2012 EPS outlook in late October. I feel that at roughly seven times forward earnings, Aflac could be a perfect set-it-and-forget-it type of selection for income investors seeking stable companies.
Intel is suffering along with other chip makers in what can best be described as an industrywide downturn. Cloud-computing spending is still ramping up; however, enterprise IT spending has trickled off as U.S. GDP growth has waned. Whereas most traders have been looking to dump their short-term positions in Intel, I noted plenty of reasons to be positive about this chip giant in a recent analyst debate.
To begin with, Intel has more than asserted its position as the dominant microprocessor manufacturer. Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD), Intel's primary rival, recently announced layoffs that amount to 15% of its workforce and will spend the next four quarters merely attempting to get back to profitability. With its innovative capabilities severely limited, Intel's still in the driver's seat in this arena.
With regard to cloud computing, Intel is delivering many of the chips being used in cloud-based servers. Due to its huge research and development budget, Intel stands a good chance at becoming the dominant hardware force in big data centers worldwide.
Finally, don't count out Intel with regard to smartphones and tablets. Although Intel's late to the market and competition is fierce, it possesses a trusted name bound to draw interest. Now yielding 4.5% and at 10 times forward earnings, Intel is looking mighty tasty.
Joy Global (NYSE:JOY)
You didn't actually think I was done with my coal fascination, did you? Although Joy Global isn't a coal miner, it's a company that provides heavy-duty mining equipment to coal miners, as well as other mineral and oil sands companies.
In Joy's third-quarter report it recorded a 25% drop in bookings as the U.S. coal industry suffered from low natural gas prices and a sectorwide trend of electric utilities switching from coal to natural gas. That doesn't mean all hope is lost for coal companies or heavy equipment providers like Joy Global -- in fact, I think quite the opposite.
Last year, coal accounted for 42% of all electrical generation in the United States, which signifies that it's going to be a vital part of the U.S.'s energy picture for decades to come and is going to play a major role in helping America reach its goal of energy independence. With natural gas prices having risen, coal is no longer a grossly overvalued fuel, which should help boost demand for Joy Global's products.
In addition, Joy services the metal mining sector, which is still booming thanks to near-record gold prices and relatively strong growth in Asia. As export demand for coal and minerals picks up internationally, Joy should see a boost in its bookings. All told, at just eight times forward earnings, Joy Global looks like a bargain.
Is my bullishness or bearishness misplaced? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and consider following my cue by using these links to add these companies to your free personalized Watchlist to keep up on the latest news with each company:
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He's a total nerd when it comes to making lists. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Joy Global. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Aflac and Intel, as well as writing puts on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that believes transparency comes first.