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3 Stocks the Smartest Investors Are Buying Right Now

By Timothy Green, Tyler Crowe, and Todd Campbell - Jan 31, 2016 at 10:29AM

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With the stock market in turmoil, there are some deals to be had if you look in the right places.

While it's usually not a good idea to blindly copy the trades of well-known investors, tracking the investments of Buffett, Einhorn, and other gurus can help generate good ideas. Our Foolish contributors have identified three stocks being snapped up by some of the top investors on the planet that may offer opportunities for you.

Tyler CroweWarren Buffett hasn't been big on buying much in the oil and gas sector as of late with the exception of one company: Phillips 66 (PSX 1.89%). After making a large exchange of Phillips 66 shares for one of the company's specialty chemicals units back in 2013, he has since been building his position back up in the company. As of Berkshire Hathaway's most recent disclosure, Buffett owned a $4.7 billion stake in Phillips 66.

While part of his investment in Phillips 66 is his familiarity with the company -- he has owned it since 2008 when it was part of ConocoPhillips -- probably the most attractive part of the business is that it generates high returns on capital for being in what many would consider a dull industry.

Source: Phillips 66 investor presentation

Even more tempting about this stock is that the company takes those high rates of return and gives them back to shareholders in the form of a pretty generous dividend and a robust stock repurchase program.

Source: Phillips 66 investor presentation

Refining certainly isn't a get-rich-quick kind of investment, and the ups and downs of the commodity market will swing Phillips 66 results to some degree. However, its diverse operations across marketing, chemical manufacturing, and midstream should help even out those results and allow Phillips 66 to do well no matter the operating environment. 

Tim Green: David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital established a position in struggling department store Macy's (M 2.20%) during the fourth quarter, buying shares at an average price of $45.69 per share. The stock has tumbled over the past six months, falling by more than 40%. An extremely weak holiday season, with comparable sales slumping 5.2% in November and December, along with slashed guidance, have raised questions about Macy's strategy.

Einhorn views Macy's as a value play with the potential to be bought out by private equity investors. The company has stated that it has no plans to spin off its real estate into a REIT, but Einhorn believes a buyout may facilitate such a transaction. Einhorn points to the stock trading at just nine times 2015 earnings per share, based on the closing stock price on Dec. 31, suggesting that even if a buyout doesn't take place, Macy's stock is inexpensive.

Einhorn believes a significant portion of Macy's problems during the holidays were related to unseasonably warm weather and a strong dollar impacting tourist business. The stock is certainly priced pessimistically, and if Macy's can turn things around in 2016, investors buying in the $30 and $40 range will likely be rewarded. But there's a chance Macy's problems are more serious, and in that case, the stock could languish for quite some time.

Todd Campbell: Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates has been a buyer of AT&T (T 1.27%), and market uncertainty and a tasty 5.5% dividend yield may make it the right stock for individual investors to consider owning, too.

The company is knee-deep in integrating its massive $49 billion buyout of DirecTV, and that deal should begin paying off in terms of free cash flow and profit growth this year. Previously, AT&T had guided investors to expect up to $1.6 billion in savings by the third year.

If AT&T can deliver on that savings target and drive free cash flow higher, there's little reason to expect the company won't remain shareholder friendly -- especially since the company is a dividend aristocrat that's upped its payout every year for more than 30 years.

Since steady-eddy companies with solid dividend payouts tend to be less volatile in times of market uncertainty, picking up shares in this stock might prove to be wise.

Timothy Green has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway. 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

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
T
$18.27 (1.27%) $0.23
Phillips 66 Stock Quote
Phillips 66
PSX
$90.00 (1.89%) $1.67
Macy's, Inc. Stock Quote
Macy's, Inc.
M
$19.96 (2.20%) $0.43
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.A
$452,697.25 (1.66%) $7,395.26
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.B
$301.55 (1.71%) $5.08
ConocoPhillips Stock Quote
ConocoPhillips
COP
$102.75 (2.38%) $2.39

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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