It is getting ugly in the equity markets this week. Commodities are in free fall and gold prices have collapsed. The main indexes have suffered two of their worst performances of the year over the past three trading sessions. S&P stalwarts American Express (AXP) and eBay (EBAY) reported earnings after the bell Wednesday that came in light on revenues. Both stocks are down in after hours trading, which could help set the tone for Thursday's trading.
I think it is time for safety right now in this market until sentiment improves. I am adding money only to high yielding, cheap Blue Chips on pullbacks for the time being. Here are two of the bluest of these names that I like. Both are cheap, provide a dividend yield north of 3% and have barely budged this week even as the overall market has posted substantial declines.
Microsoft (MSFT) - I know the concern of most investors in Mr. Softie is the record decline in the shipment of PCs recently posted. I believe this is fully priced into the stock of Microsoft as it is well known at this point. Intel (INTC) reported earnings after the bell Tuesday. Earnings were off significantly Y/Y, just met consensus and margins came in worse than expected. What happened? The stock actually gained a penny Wednesday even as the overall market was cratering as these tepid results were fully baked into Intel's stock price. In addition, Intel's cheap valuation and generous dividend have kept value investors in their court. These same traits are shared by Microsoft.
MSFT yields 3.2% and has raised its dividend payouts north of a 12% CAGR over the past five years. It also should announce its next dividend hike before the end of summer. The company boasts a triple A rated balance sheet and has over $60B in cash and short term marketable securities on the books. Subtracting the company's cash, the shares are going for about 7x forward earnings even as analysts expect the giant from Redmond to show revenue gains of 7% to 8% annually over the next two fiscal years. The stock is actually up a few pennies a share this week even with big pullbacks Monday and Wednesday in the market.
General Electric (GE) - Another high yielding Blue Chip. GE yields 3.3% and has increased payouts by 90% since emerging from the financial crisis. The stock sells for just over 12x 2014's projected earnings and sports a very reasonable five year projected PEG (1.26) for an equity that yields north of three percent. The company also has a highly rated balance sheet (AA+) and produces more than $30B of annual operating cash flow. In addition, the big declines in some of the stocks in the energy sector could allow this industrial giant to continue to expand its presence in energy services at a cheaper price. The company recently added to its energy portfolio through its $3.3B purchase of Lufkin Industries (LUFK) earlier this month. The stock has held up well this week even as signs increased that world economic growth is slowing.