If You're Retired, Consider Buying These 3 Stocks

Retirement is not a time to chase hot stocks, but an excuse to own stable stocks that let you sleep at night.

Rich Smith
Rich Smith
Jun 13, 2017 at 1:22PM
Consumer Goods

Ah, retirement. The golden years. This is the time to be catching up on your reading, playing with your grandkids, maybe seeing the world a bit -- but definitely not a time to be worrying about whether your stock portfolio will crash.

To help you accomplish the former things, and avoid the latter, I've screened for stocks offering four attributes that should appeal to retirees -- and really, anyone looking to own a safe stock. We're looking for companies that:

  • Are reasonably large and established, with at least a $2 billion in market cap and a recognizable brand name.
  • Pay a dividend of at least 4%.
  • Don't zig and zag with every wobble in the stock market, showing a beta of less than 1.0.
  • Don't cost a lot -- at least 20% cheaper than the stock market's 26.5 P/E ratio.

The following are three stocks that appear well suited for investors in retirement. Go ahead -- read on and give them a look, and see if you agree.

A gray-haired man, sitting in a chair by the water, goes fishing.

Image source: Getty Images.

Gap, Inc.

Once upon a time, Gap (NYSE:GPS) was the hottest name in mall clothing -- and Old Navy was just its younger, downmarket brother. But my, how times have changed.

Today, it's Old Navy that's driving growth at the company. Old Navy's same-store sales surged 8% last quarter, while sales sagged at Gap and Banana Republic. Still, Gap CEO Art Peck has high hopes to replicate his success with  Old Navy and turn around sales at Gap's other brands. Already, gross margin is on the upswing at all three of Gap's main brands.

As if all this good business news weren't enough to persuade an investor to buy this brand-name stock, Gap also boasts a lot of numbers that should prove attractive to investors in retirement. It has a low beta of just 0.87, for one thing, indicating that historically, at least, its stock has been a bit less volatile than most others. Gap's 4% dividend yield also offers a nice income stream to folks on a fixed income -- and Gap has raised its dividend six times in the past seven years. 

Perhaps best of all, at just 13.2 times earnings, Gap stock is cheap, costing barely half the average 25.7 P/E on the S&P 500 today. 

Total S.A.

Willing to pay a bit more to get an even bigger dividend? Looking for a business a bit less subject to the whims of fashion than retail clothing? Look no further than Total (NYSE:TOT).

With a P/E of 17.2, French oil and gas giant Total costs about 30% more than Gap. On the other hand, its big 5.2% dividend yield means Total pays a dividend yield 35% bigger than Gap's. In terms of volatility, Total stock boasts a beta of only 0.8, and the company's near-term prospects look strong, with free cash flow recently turning positive after four straight years of burning cash.

Zack's Equity Research recently highlighted Total as offering "one of the best production growth profiles among the oil super majors," with oil production set to grow 4% year over year in 2017 -- plus any growth the company might expect to enjoy from rising oil prices, as OPEC tightens the tap.

Unless you think oil is going out of fashion soon -- have you bought an electric car yet? -- Total, with its strong dividend and strong growth prospects,  is probably a safe place to invest in retirement.

Mobile TeleSystems

Last but not least, Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT) is Russia's biggest telecom company, yet it's priced at just 10.8 times earnings, and it's a whole lot cheaper than what telcos usually sell for here in the United States. MTS, as it's known locally, also pays a 10.2% dividend yield, about twice what you could expect to receive from traditional widows-and-orphans stock AT&T (NYSE:T) -- or Verizon (NYSE:VZ), for that matter. Both AT&T and Verizon sell for more than 15 times earnings and pay dividends of about 5%. On the down side, MTS is also a bit more volatile than AT&T or Verizon. (That's what you get from living in Mr. Putin's neighborhood). But on the other hand, its 0.95 beta at least implies that MTS is less volatile than most stocks.

Perhaps the most encouraging fact for folks looking for a stock to invest in during retirement, though, is this: In MTS's last earnings report -- which showed subscribers growing and free cash flow up 11% -- MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov named dividends as one of the three cornerstones of MTS's "3D" business model, saying the company is focused on delivering "data, digital, and dividends."

With a dividend yield north of 10%, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of doing that.