A lot of investors may be asking themselves why they did not "sell in May and go away." The turbulence in the financial markets may now have a lot of investors wondering what to do with their portfolios. Those looking for "bunker stocks" that are less exposed to the challenges in Europe and the toxic political environment in the US, should take a closer look at the four stocks listed below:
Temple-Inland Inc (TIN)
In early September, International Paper (IP) entered into a definitive merger agreement to purchase the paper company for $32.00 per share in cash. Temple-Inland had rejected a previous offer of $30.50 per share, but agreed to the enhanced bid after the stock dropped to $19.03 on August 23, 2011. At $31.30, the stock trades at a 2.2% discount to the deal price. Once you factor in the $0.13 quarterly dividend(s), the deal discount could be as much as 3%. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012. This could put the annualized return from the deal between roughly 6-12%.
The stock does have meaningful downside risk if the deal falls through. In the days before the merger agreement was announced, the stock traded around $24. Still, the companies stand to benefit meaningfully from synergies, and as such, they should be motivated to close on the deal. We do not think that shareholders should take on an outsized position in this risk arbitrage, but we do think that it makes a nice addition to any investor looking for returns while minimizing broad market exposure.
Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI)
The company agreed to a $40 per share cash acquisition. Google Inc (GOOG) has the financial resources to complete the transaction, and at around $38 per share, the roughly 5% discount to deal price is tempting, especially considering that the companies expect the deal to close by the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012, and the annualized return on this is around 10-20%.
Of course, the stock is not riskless. The market may be concerned that regulatory risks stand in the way. Considering that the deal price was more than 60% of the pre-deal closing price, shareholders could see significant downside risk if the deal falls through. But much of this downside is ameliorated by a $2.5 to $3.5 billion payment that Google will make to Motorola Mobility if the deal is not completed. This cushions the potential downside by $8.44 to $11.79 per share. In addition to this explicit guarantee, investors should also find some comfort in knowing that GOOG is a motivated buyer, and they will likely do their best to appease regulators. As was the case with TIN, because of the risk/reward distributions of risk arbitrage plays, these stocks should not be an outsized position within a portfolio. Many risk arbitrage plays will invariably return a modest amount, but a handful will always fall through and lead to unexpected losses. While you can minimize the losses by picking and choosing amongst the best deals, outsized exposure to any one deal leaves investors unreasonably exposed. MMI should be viewed as a nice addition for an investor looking for returns with minimum broad market exposure.
Apple Inc (AAPL)
The consumer electronics company stands in the upper echelon of international companies both for their financial success and their strong brand and reputation. But the reason we included them on this list is that the stock is still cheap, in spite of being a growing industry leader. Forget the behemoth market capitalization, the valuations are still cheap, especially considering the significant valuation premiums afforded to the handful of stocks in the market that are growing their revenues. The recent stock market weakness is actually an opportunity here, because Apple stands to gain in the near term from their iPhone 5 release and from continued iPad 2 demand in North America and abroad. The stock trades at a trailing P/R of 15.99 and a forward P/E of 12.44. Excluding excess cash the trailing P/E is probably closer to 13 and the forward P/E is closer to 10.
Apple also carries risks. Like any technology company, they are prone to shifts in consumer tastes and competition. Amazon.com (AMZN) is a real potential risk down the line. They could ultimately reduce the tablet computer margins by driving down pricing with their soon-to-be released tablet. But in the short term, this risk is minimized by the fact that AMZN is still dependent on third party operating systems like Google's Android. The open source platform has developed into a great consumer option, but it is still very often viewed as a work in progress.
Vodafone Group PLC (VOD)
The telecommunications company has more than 370 million mobile service customers and around 6 million wireline customers worldwide. The stock carries an impressive dividend yield and a steady revenue stream. The company has a trailing P/E of 10.81, a forward P/E of 8.04 and a price/sales of 1.80. Combined with the rich dividend yield of 7.80%, this stock becomes a nice addition to any portfolio.
The company is not without its risks. It carries a large amount of debt, and the company's ongoing business demands sizeable capital expenditures. But strong wireless customer demand and pricing power should continue to benefit shareholders even as wireline revenues decline.