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Retirement Investing 2016: 3 Stocks to Put on Your Radar

By Rich Smith, Dan Caplinger, and Chuck Saletta - Jan 30, 2016 at 8:02AM

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When's the best time to invest for retirement? When stocks are cheap! Like... now.

The new year is here, the stock market's already down 8%, and that's great news for investors.

Oh, I know that's not how it feels. It's only natural for investors to want to see the numbers on their portfolio statements go up, not down. But try to look at things from the perspective of a person accumulating assets for retirement -- as we all should be.

Thanks to the decline in the Dow, it's now possible to buy stocks for 8% cheaper than what they cost on Dec. 31, 2015. But which stocks should you be buying for retirement? We asked our experts. Here's what they had to say.

Dan Caplinger
Retirement investors like stalwart stocks that have stood the test of time, and General Electric (NYSE: GE) has successfully reinvented itself on numerous occasions over its long history in order to adapt to changing conditions in the economy. Over the past several years, the conglomerate has pulled away from its past strategy of concentrating on the potential in financial services, instead returning to its industrial roots and tapping into some of the biggest trends in the economy. In particular, the company's GE Aviation unit has benefited greatly from the surge in demand for commercial aircraft, with its engines used on some of the most popular aircraft models in the business. General Electric has also taken a multifaceted approach toward serving the energy industry, pioneering advances in wind-turbine technology while also aiming at the explosive growth in traditional oil and natural gas drilling activity over the past several years.

Retirement investors will also find the stock's dividend yield of 3% attractive as a source of potential income. Although GE's realignment toward the industrial side of its business leaves it open to greater exposure to business cycle fluctuations, long-term investors can remain confident that the conglomerate will continue to adapt and find the best opportunities available. That offers shareholders the combination of income and growth prospects that make General Electric a solid choice for retirement investors.

Rich Smith
I'll second Dan's recommendation to seek value (and dividends) in the industrials sector. And in fact, I'll go him one better. While General Electric looks like a good value at 19 times forward earnings, United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) is an out-and-out steal at just 13 times forward earnings.

Like GE, United Technologies is an industrial stalwart, manufacturing products such as escalators and elevators, building alarm systems and fire sprinklers that will never go out of style. As long as humans continue to build buildings, they'll want to ensure those buildings are secure against intrusion -- and fire. And with the trend toward building bigger and bigger buildings, the need for elevators and escalators to access them is only going to increase. In the aerospace sector, United Technologies is one of the world's foremost manufacturers of engines for jet airplanes, as well as other airplane parts. Unless and until someone perfects Star Trek transportation technology, humans will continue to fly in airplanes to cross great distances. So this business, too, is not going away anytime soon.

And if you agree with me that United Technologies is a business built to last, it's hard to see today's low stock price -- down 30% over the past 52 weeks -- as anything but a great entry point. Thirteen times earnings may not be the cheapest valuation on the planet, but it's a fine price to pay for a business pegged for 10% long-term earnings growth and paying a 3% dividend yield. As Warren Buffett likes to say: "Buy a wonderful company at a fair price," and you can't go too wrong.

Chuck Saletta
Unless you live directly in its Pennsylvania (and small parts of other states) service area, you may have never heard of UGI Corporation (UGI 0.17%). Still, this company is far more than simply the gas utility business that is its namesake, and its smart extension into other, related business lines adds to its attractiveness for a retiree's portfolio.

For instance, UGI is the general partner in AmeriGas Partners, the nation's largest retail propane marketing company. UGI also distributes liquefied propane gas (LPG) in the United Kingdom, France, and Central and Eastern Europe. UGI also owns energy generation and pipeline-style distribution operations, as well as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and electrical contracting services, making it a fairly diversified, though utility-focused, business.

In addition to retiree-friendly utility and related business lines, UGI has several retiree-friendly financial measures as well. It trades below 15 times its anticipated earnings, a reasonable, though not dirt-cheap, valuation. UGI also sports a 2.7% yield, 30 years of dividend growth, and an uninterrupted history of paying dividends that traces back to 1885.

Combine a strong, utility-style business with solid financials and a shareholder-friendly dividend policy with that kind of history and you get a great company to put on your radar for a retirement portfolio.

Caveat investor
And there you have it, folks. We promised you three stocks to consider for your retirement portfolio, and we've delivered. We think they're all pretty spiffy ideas, but what you do next with them is up to you.

One thought? Before pressing the "buy" button, click on over to our Motley Fool discussion boards and see what other investors think of these stocks. Two heads are better than one, and the tens of thousands of Fool readers populating our discussion boards are even better than that.

Chuck Saletta owns shares of General Electric Company, UGI, and United Technologies. Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. The Motley Fool recommends UGI. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

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Stocks Mentioned

General Electric Company Stock Quote
General Electric Company
$74.93 (-0.33%) $0.25
Raytheon Technologies Corporation Stock Quote
Raytheon Technologies Corporation
$91.94 (0.81%) $0.74
UGI Corporation Stock Quote
UGI Corporation
$40.06 (0.17%) $0.07

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