One of the biggest mistakes investors make (especially the younger ones) is ignoring stocks they consider "boring."
Oftentimes, these boring companies actually make some of the best possible investments, delivering consistent market-beating performance and low volatility, allowing you to sleep soundly at night, as you can see from the chart below.
We asked three of our analysts for their favorite "boring" stocks, and here is what they had to say.
Selena Maranjian: Many of us would like to believe otherwise, because exciting, high-flying stocks are so much more fun to follow, but some of the best investments are boring stocks. Consider, for example, Waste Management (NYSE:WM), with a market capitalization topping $22 billion. It's the top dog in the garbage industry, and offers a solid dividend that recently yielded 3.1%. Better still, it has hiked that payout by an annual average of 7% over the past decade (essentially doubling the dividend over that period). The stock is up some 16% over the past year and has averaged almost 10% annually over the past 20.
Some have lost faith in the company because of the slowing growth of its top line, while others who liked its waste-to-energy operations were not thrilled to see the company sell them to private-equity investors. The business contributed about 6% of revenue, but management wants to focus more intensively on its core operations. With nearly $2 billion in proceeds from the sale, Waste Management aims to acquire other companies and repurchase shares. Management is also holding firm on pricing, which can hurt it in the short-term if it loses some customers to rivals, but can help it in the long run through greater revenue.
A beautiful aspect of this business is the reliability of garbage and its need to be collected. Waste Management is in a strong position to profit from that, enjoying economies of scale and generating free cash flow of more than $1 billion annually.
And as Selena reminded me "put that ticker (of NNN) on its side and it's ZZZ -- boring indeed!"
National Retail Properties is a real estate investment trust with nearly $5 billion in assets that owns more than 2,000 properties across 47 states. It owns single-tenant properties spanning 38 different industries, including convenience stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and countless others.
And while there may not be anything exciting about owning the building a local 7-Eleven finds itself in, the reality is that National Retail Properties has proven this can be a wildly successful business model.
As far as its operating metrics are concerned, the portfolio of properties at NNN is diverse, with no single tenant representing more than 6.6% of its rent. It is also secure, as its properties were 98.8% occupied at the end of the third quarter versus the industry average of 92.7%. In addition, that occupancy rate has shown no sign of slowing down, as its average lease term stands at 12 years.
The company also notes its portfolio of "well selected retail tenants provide stronger performance through various economic cycles than office, industrial or other tenant types," meaning even in trying economic times, it offers more safety.
Throw in the fact that it has raised its dividend for 25 consecutive years and over the last 20 years it has delivered an average annual total return of 13.5% versus 9.6% for the S&P 500, and you can see how National Retail Properties proves that boring can indeed be beautiful.
Dan Caplinger: When I'm looking for boring stock ideas, the first place I look is my own pantry. Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) has a huge stable of brands that produce billion-dollar sales each and every year, including Gillette razors, Pampers diapers, and Crest toothpaste. The company has a worldwide presence, serving billions of customers in more than 180 countries across the globe.
P&G has appeal for a broad range of investors. For those who like dividends, the company has an attractive yield of almost 3%, and with 58 consecutive annual dividend increases, the company has one of the best dividend histories in the market. At the same time, P&G has also looked for ways to bolster its growth, increasing its penetration into emerging markets. A strong U.S. dollar has had a downward impact on P&G's revenue and net income recently, given the amount of sales the company does in foreign countries. Finally, P&G has also committed to returning capital to shareholders through stock buybacks, and that in turn should further contribute to future earnings-per-share growth and provide more support to the stock's impressive 36% gains over the past two years. Procter & Gamble is so huge that investors shouldn't expect explosive growth potential going forward, but it should nevertheless provide the security that many conservative investors like to see.