The S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) started the year on a significant move up that produced a 12% return in the first three months. While this run took the SPY from 1260 to 1420, the index has retreated down 8% since the beginning of April (see chart below). This is similar to 2011, with the same factors coming back into play such the Eurocrisis, etc. If an investor held steady year to date, the result would be a meager 4% gain. I suspect this choppy market will continue until the debate about Greece ends. Where should an investor be for the rest of 2012? The two key components are low-beta stocks and dividend-paying stocks. The low beta will limit the wide stock price swings while the dividends will offer income while waiting on the next move higher. The following list of stocks have these components while also having a positive market gain during the past month.
Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC) is a leading motion picture exhibitor owning and operating the largest theatre circuit in the United States. Total revenue for the first quarter ended March 29, 2012 were $684.9 million compared with total revenue of $570.9 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2011. Net income (loss) attributable to controlling interest was $46.3 million in the first quarter of 2012 compared with $23.6 million in the first quarter of 2011. Recently, RGC has been upgraded by at least seven different brokerages. It has an equity summary score of 8.9 out of 10 for a Bullish outlook. Over the past month, RGC is up 9.7%. RGC has a beta of 0.49 and a 6% dividend yield.
AT&T Inc. (T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates - AT&T operating companies - are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. AT&T is up 7.97% in the past month. Recently, AT&T has been upgraded by 11 different brokerages. It has an equity summary score of 9.6 out of 10 for a VERY Bullish outlook. AT&T has a beta of 0.62 and a 5.29% dividend yield.
Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) is a publicly traded diversified energy company with annual revenue of more than $12 billion, and three principal subsidiaries: PSEG Power, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) and PSEG Energy Holdings. PEG posted a higher quarterly profit, helped by a better performance at its nuclear operations and lower costs, and the power company backed its full-year profit forecast on May 2, 2012. PEG has been upgraded by three brokerages since the beginning of May. It has an equity summary score of 9.2 out of 10 for a VERY Bullish outlook. PEG has a beta of 0.58 and a 4.49% dividend yield. Over the past month, PEG is up 5.2%.
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is a global, broad-based healthcare company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs approximately 91,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. In mid-October 2011, ABT announced a planned split-up of the company, to be accomplished through the spin-off to shareholders of the research-based pharmaceuticals business (estimated sales of $18 billion) as a separate concern. Abbott will retain its legacy medical products operations (sales of $22 billion), comprising diagnostics, devices, nutritionals and generic drug operations. ABT has an equity summary score of 9.8 out of 10 for a VERY Bullish outlook. ABT has a beta of 0.44 and a 3.28% dividend yield. Over the past month, ABT is up 5.1%.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.