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This article will review five potential "retirement" stocks to see if they have the attributes to be part of your long term investment portfolio. I take retirement investing seriously, and, through my research I want to find (1) companies that can thrive in many economic environments or even buck the cyclical trends. This is my analysis to sort through some of the most-likely considered candidates for any retirement portfolio:

Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) ConEd has a market cap of $16.66 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 15.63. The stock has traded in a 52 week range of between $47.51 and $58.79. The stock is currently trading around $57. The company reported second quarter revenues of $2.99 billion compared to revenues of $3.02 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $165 million compared to net income of $183 million in the second quarter of 2010. Year over year net income was up by 14% from $868 million in 2009 to $992 million in 2010.

One of ConEd’s competitors is American Electric Power Company (AEP). AEP is currently trading around $38 with a market cap of $18.09 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 12.56. AEP pays a dividend which yields 4.9% versus ConEd, whose dividend yields 4.2%. I think ConEd could still be the better bet, however, because of its lower risk profile.

ConEd has been a model of consistency. The company has increased its net income in four of the last five years and has increased its dividend for 35 consecutive years. ConEd is a utility company that has little direct competition because the industry is capital intensive and highly regulated. I would consider the dividend payments to be guaranteed, and the 4.2% yield to be quite respectable.

The current dividend yield is lower than its average because the stock price has been performing quite well. The stock price is up by 16.6% over the last 52 weeks and 55.7% over the last three years. Investors in ConEd must feel that they have won the Triple Crown. The stock offers security, capital appreciation and a strong and increasing dividend. I think that Consolidated Edison Inc. would be a good fit in any long term investor’s portfolio. I rate Consolidated Edison as a buy.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Pfizer has a market cap of $136.46 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 16.33. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $16.25 and $21.45. The stock is currently trading around $17. On August 2nd, the company reported second quarter revenues of $17 billion, compared to revenues of $17.3 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $2.61 billion compared to net income of $2.48 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Year over year net income was down by 4.4% from $8.63 billion in 2009 to $8.26 billion in 2010.

One of Pfizer’s competitors is Merck & Company (MRK). Merck is currently trading around $31 with a market cap of $95.89 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 33.53. Merck pays a dividend which yields 4.8% versus Pfizer whose dividend yields 4.5%. Merck has an approximately 160% payout ratio compared to Pfizer's 70%, which means Merck is paying some of its dividend straight from cash while Pfizer pays its dividend in full from cash flow, with some room left over. Merck's dividend is higher but, in the long run, may be less sustainable. Regardless, for many big pharma plays, government healthcare is an uncertainty hanging overhead.

At first blush, Pfizer's earnings have been in a downward trend. The company’s net income has decreased in each of the last five years. The company faces future earnings problems because Lipitor, one of Pfizer’s biggest revenue producers, will soon be losing its patent. The company has been paying dividends for decades but since 2007 the dividend has decreased by 40% from 29 cents and 32 cents per quarter in 2007 and 2008, respectively, to the current 20 cents per quarter in 2011.

In spite of the company’s recent problems, the stock price has remained steady. Over the last 52 weeks, the stock price has risen by 2.64%. I think Pfizer is a terrific company that will probably invent another blockbuster drug and make a great comeback. If the stock price were to drop, I would consider that to be a buying opportunity. However, I see no reason to rush into this stock at this time. With Obamacare's effects on healthcare, it may be wise to avoid the entire sector until changes are implemented. I rate Pfizer as a hold.

AT&T Inc. (T) AT&T has a market cap of $164.45 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 8.08. The stock has been trading in a 52 week range between $27.20 and $31.94. The current stock price is around $28. On July 21st, the company reported revenues of $31.49 billion compared to revenues of $30.80 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $3.95 billion compared to net income of $4 billion in the second quarter of 2010.

One of AT&T's competitors is Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ). Verizon is currently trading around $36 with a market cap of $100.79 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 15.98. Verizon pays a dividend which yields 5.6% versus AT&T, whose dividend yields 6.1%. AT&T's higher yield provides additional cushioning for the market's drops. Additionally, Verizon sports a 102% payout ratio compared to AT&T's at 50%. Verizon essentially has no room to grow its dividend in a sustainable fashion. For dividend growth, AT&T is a superior bet.

AT&T is a consistently profitable company that has turned a profit in nine out of the last ten years. In 2010, the company increased its net income by 57%, from $12.13 billion in 2009 to $19.09 billion in 2010. AT&T’s large size gives it purchasing and pricing advantages that other telecommunication companies cannot match. In addition to the company’s impressive earnings history, AT&T has been an excellent dividend paying history.

The company has been paying quarterly dividends for decades and has increased its dividend in each of the last five years by a total of 29%. The company’s stock price has been steady and is down by 3.53% over the last 52 weeks. With a dividend yield of over 6%, and a price to earnings ratio of only 8.08, AT&T is an attractive long term investment. I rate AT&T as a buy.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Apple is one stock for the long run because of its technological dominance over the handset and handset applications market. Its brands have galvanized a significant portion of computer users towards its products. It has a market cap of $372.52 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 15.9. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $275.00 and $422.86. The current stock price is around $402.

On July 19th, Apple reported 3rd quarter earnings for the period ending on June 30th. Revenues were $28.6 billion compared to revenues of $15.7 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $7.31 billion compared to net income of $5.7 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Year over year net income increased by 147% from $5.7 billion in 2009 to $14.0 billion in 2010.

One of Apple's competitors is Google Inc. (GOOG). Google is currently trading around $526 with a market cap of $169.68 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 18.96. Apple is experiencing superior revenue growth when compared to Google, at 82% and 32% on a quarterly basis, respectively. Apple's growth comes from its expanding competitive advantages, which it can leverage over its large competitors. Thus, over the long run, Apple is the superior bet.

Apple has provided its investors with extraordinary earnings growth. The company has increased net income in each of the last 10 quarters by a total of 504%. Over the last five years, the company has increased net income by 603%. Earnings growth has shown no signs of slowing and are likely to increase with the introduction of its highly anticipated iPhone 5. There have been persistent rumors that the iPhone 5 will hit store shelves later this year.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad products are dominating its other technology competitors. Apple consistently offers the most innovative products in the mobile computing universe. I think Apple will continue to outperform the competition and that investing in this company is a must for tech investors. In short, Apple has legs. I rate Apple as a buy.

Lorillard Inc. (LO) Lorillard has a market cap of $14.76 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 14.59. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $72.40 and $116.90. The stock is currently trading around $107. On July 25th, the company reported second quarter revenues of $1.69 billion, compared to revenues of $1.52 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $291 million compared to net income of $263 million in the second quarter of 2010. Year over year net income increased by 8.6% from $948 million in 2009 to $1.03 billion in 2010.

One of Lorillard’s competitors is fellow cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. (RAI). Reynolds is currently trading around $36 with a market cap of $21.25 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 15.85. Reynolds pays a dividend which yields 5.8% versus Lorillard, whose dividend yields 4.9%. Reynolds has a higher payout ratio, at 87%, when compared to Lorillard's at 66%. Lorillard has a larger cash flow cushion with which it can grow its dividend, and on that key basis, is the better bet between the two.

Lorillard has been In a strong upward trend. The company has increased net income in each of the last three years. It increased its year over year second quarter net income by 10.6%. The primary reason that the company has been able to increase net income is because smokers really like their cigarettes. Since 2006, the company has increased its market share from 9.62% to 14.2%. Investors have taken notice of Lorillard’s positive momentum and have bid the stock price up by 30.2% over the last 52 weeks.

Lorillard, like its competitors, offers a strong dividend. The company currently pays an annual dividend of $5.20 with a 4.9% yield. The company has only been paying a dividend since the second quarter of 2008, but has increased the dividend by 41.3% since that time. Lorillard offers investors the potential for capital appreciation along with a high yield dividend. This is a potent combination for long term investors. I rate Lorillard as a buy.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Reviewing 5 Potential Retirement Stocks