Whatever you think of these annoying slogans, you have to admit there’s a long history of sharp lurches down creating big opportunities for aggressive investors.
Notice I say “aggressive investors.” This is a risky proposition, to be sure, and is not for folks at or very near their retirement age. But if like me you are decades away from retirement, you can afford to miss the true bottom by a month or two. The idea is simply to buy into grossly oversold stocks during the mayhem and expect them to bounce back sometime in 12 to 18 months once the initial shock is long gone.
You might scoff at anyone taking on such risk. But nothing is ever a sure thing when it comes to investing. And in times like these — when even the creditworthiness of the Treasury has been called into question and so-called “high-yield” savings accounts barely keep up with the rate of inflation — it’s a bit naïve to think you can find any place that is truly risk-free.
In the depths of the brutal 2008-09 selloff, Cisco flopped from around $25 per share to briefly bottom out under $14. As of this writing, shares are currently hovering in the low $14 range.
According to 34 “experts” surveyed by Thomson/First Call, both the median and mean target on CSCO is $20. The most recent targets, admittedly, have been moving down — such as the new $16 target set by Auriga in its June 27 “hold” recommendation on Cisco — but frankly, I’ll take a stock that “only” has 15% upside from here.
Yes, investors have had good reason to sell off CSCO stock in recent months as Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR) has elbowed into the corporate marketplace, and bloated operations have stifled Cisco’s ability to adapt to the cloud computing revolution. But there are reasons to be optimistic CSCO is trying to right the ship. In the past year, there has been a big management shakeup, thousands of layoffs and production changes that include a shift away from consumer offerings of its DVR and Flip video camera manufacturing. The turnaround might come at the perfect time for investors who buy in during the current mayhem.
What’s more, Cisco began offering a decent dividend in March and currently boasts a yield of about 1.7% — something you couldn’t say back in 2009.
You could argue these moves are not enough, or you could argue the stock market has a long way left to fall. But with a forward P/E of about 8 and falling fast, I’d seriously consider adding Cisco at under $14 per share.
AT&T dipped down to as low as $22 in March 2009, and aside from a week or two in July 2009, it never again closed beneath $24. Shares currently are around $28 a share — but a 15% slide would put the telecom giant back at the same level as the financial crisis lows more than two years ago.
If AT&T hits $24, I would jump into it headfirst. Heck, I may put as much as half my brokerage account in the stock if it gets that low!
AT&T’s dividend alone is a huge selling point. The company already yields more than 6% per share, and a slide in stock prices would only make that rate even more impressive. Yes, the company does hold a boatload of debt at $66 billion, and a severe meltdown could cut into its cash flow. But with more than $120 billion in revenue, I think AT&T has more than enough cushion and, barring disaster, will keep its track record of 27 consecutive annual dividend increases intact.
And consider that at $24 a share, based on current annual dividends of $1.72 a share, you would have a yield of a stunning 7.2%. That kind of yield is simply unreal.
On top of that, AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile has fallen out of the headlines but should not be discounted. The $39 billion deal, if approved, will allow the telecom giant to leapfrog its only true competitor, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and give the company a roughly 42% market share. That’s a dramatic competitive advantage if legislators allow it to happen. And given the inept behavior in Congress lately and focus on 2012 elections, chances are Washington egomaniacs will be too wrapped up in themselves to stand in the way of this merger when there are bigger issues to make hay over.
AT&T might never get back to the $40 a share it saw before the financial crisis. Heck, it might never get back to the nearly $32 level it saw in early July. But if the stock flops down to $24 a share, it seems to me like you’ll be getting a steal — with a dividend yield you can brag about for decades to come.
Wal-Mart set its low-water mark in February 2009 around $44 per share. Now Wal-Mart stock is looking to break under $50 for the first time in over a year.
As with Cisco, there are bigger issues at work with Wal-Mart stock than simply a broader correction. Discounters like Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) have been eating Walmart’s lunch for a while, and the big-box giant hasn’t posted same-store sales growth in the U.S. for the last two years.
But this mega-cap retailer isn’t exactly going out of business. WMT revenues and yearly EPS have both grown steadily each of the last four fiscal years despite the economic downturn and trouble with same-store traffic.
Also, the company has been trying to reconnect with consumers with big strategic initiatives. A plan to squeeze Wal-Mart into urban locations with smaller store plans could tap into big revenue streams domestically. And if not, a big emerging-markets push could help offset the company’s U.S. shortfalls. The global Wal-Mart plan — including May’s $2.4 billion buyout of South Africa retailer Massmart and a recent report that indicates a nearly $760 million investment in Brazil — could help reverse the company’s fortunes.
And even if Wal-Mart has to wander in the wilderness a little longer, shares throw off a respectable 2.8% yield at current pricing. If WMT gets back to $45 a share, that yield jumps to 3.2%. Not a blockbuster dividend, but a pretty good safeguard against further declines.