"You rarely have a time when investors are as optimistic as they are right now when the market doesn't have a pullback". Byron Wien, Blackstone Advisory Partners, spoken on CNBC January 7, 2014
Are you prepared for a 5 to 10% stock market correction? The Vice Chairman of Blackstone (NYSE:BLK) Advisory Partners thinks we should be.
Mr. Wien predicts that the stock market (as measured by the S&P 500) could experience a 10% correction early in the year. If it does, he said that "the market will really pick up later on in the year when some of the negatives clarify."
How high does Mr. Wien predict the stock market will be up by the end of 2014? Not known for hyperbole, he doesn't blink when asked that question and he's looking for it to be up 20% by year's end.
I'd encourage you to watch the interview and listen to the observations of a seasoned investment veteran. If you scroll down on the interview page you'll see his "Market Surprises for 2014".
In this article I want to introduce you to four companies that are buy candidates after that hoped-for correction. Two of them have already corrected enough to begin accumulating at current levels.
If a Stock Market Correction Comes Accumulate These 4 Stocks
The prudent stock trader will have a healthy amount of cash ready for buying if and when a correction ensues over the next month or two. Each of us have to decide how much cash we'll set aside for a possible chance to buy low.
Let's start the year with a contrary "accumulate after the correction" stock that has a distinguished trading range for us to work with.
I'm referring to HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC), which was downgraded to a "Sell" by Citigroup on January 6, 2014 with a $40 price target. The next day it didn't sell off and was trading for around $49-a-share.
Here's a 52-week price chart with its 200-day moving average (NYSE:MA) price line in green.
No matter how high HFC has traded in the past 12 months, it invariably revisits the $40-a-share level which ends up being an excellent entry point for patient traders and investors. The plunge tends to accelerate after it falls below the 200-day MA, which isn't currently that far away from where the stock is trading now.
HFC operates as an independent petroleum refiner and marketer in the United States. Like most refiners, it does well when the spread between the price of Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate (NYSE:WTI) is wide enough to improve the refiners margin.
The spot price of Brent crude rebounded on Jan.7th after falling in the previous five trading sessions. The decline was helped by increasing Libyan output. On Tuesday the price has moved between 106.95 and 107.50.
West Texas Intermediate was trading sluggishly on the 7th, within a price range of $93.53 to $94.06 a barrel. At the present moment Brent is trading at $107.36 and WTI at $93.95, for a spread between the two benchmarks of $13.41 a barrel. That's profitable for refiners.
Energy analysts expect oil prices to remain under bearish pressure in the longer term due to adequate supplies and demand stabilization. If oil prices do pullback, and if the spread narrows, these would be catalysts for HFC to slip into correction mode.
With its sustainable $1.20-per-year dividend (a payout ratio of 59%), if shares were purchased at $45, the yield to price would be 2.66%. But if we're fortunate and could buy at $40, that yield rises to 3%.
In the quarter ending Sept.30,2013, HFC reported a huge decline in its earnings-per-share (EPS) that was close to 87%! At that point it had almost $2 billion it total cash and a trailing twelve month (TTM) operating cash flow of nearly $1.3 billion.
The company will step into the earnings limelight sometime between the end of January and the beginning of February. Analysts anticipate a nearly 80% decrease in EPS from the year-ago quarter, and an average estimated 24.5% quarterly decrease in revenue.
For the entire year of 2013, HFC is estimated to have generated revenue of $19.2 billion, which is a 4.2% decrease from the $20.09 billion in revenue from the previous year.
Study it's Corporate Profile to learn more about HollyFrontier and why it's one of the largest independent petroleum refiners in the United States. It maintains operations throughout the mid-continent, southwestern and Rocky Mountain regions.
Step into This Oft Forgotten Retailer
Shares of Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) look poised to participate in a market correction. Since its Oct.8, 2013 low of $32.13, shares of FL have soared almost 29% and currently trade slightly above $41.
Let this 6-month price chart speak for itself.
I for one wouldn't touch the shares until they corrected to below its 50-day MA, currently around $38. With a $.90-per-share annual dividend that represent a low 29% payout ratio, a $38 share price would yield a 2.37% dividend yield.
As my esteemed associates Bryan Ashenberg and Bob Lang recently commented, "In its third-quarter results, Foot Locker beat consensus expectations for comparable-store sales, demonstrating that it was able to outperform as other retailers were struggling.
"The company, a global retailer of athletic footwear and apparel, operates 3,335 mostly mall-based stores. Its two segments comprise athletic stores and direct-to-consumers, and its brands include Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Stores and Footaction, among several others."
As of the quarter ending Nov.2, 2013, Fl had a healthy balance sheet with total cash of $796 million and total debt of around $140 million. Its TTM revenue of $6.43 billion combined with its operating cash flow of $484 million indicates to me that the company could afford to raise the dividend by its next earnings report sometime in the first week of March.
Watch Your Weight With Million of Others
The beginning of a new year often is accompanied by resolutions to trim down and lose some weight. One of the big names in the business of helping folks to do that is Weight Watchers International (NYSE:WTW).
This company's stock is my "super value play" for the first quarter of 2014. Shares of WTW, which almost reached its 52-week low of $31.24 on January 6th, is trading at a trailing PE ratio of less than 8 and a forward (1-year) PE ratio of slightly above 11.
WTW is the planet's leading provider of weight management services, operating through a global network of company-owned and franchised operations. With more than four decades of weight management experience, Weight Watchers is among the most recognized and trusted brand names in the business.
So those who buy shares of WTW are buying the "best-in-breed" in the weight management space. It's current dividend of $.70 represents a paltry payout ratio of only 17%. At a $32 share price the dividend yield is a decent 2.19%, and I wouldn't be surprised if the dividend is increased at the company's next earnings call sometime between February 10 and February 14th.
All is not perfect with WTW. It's shouldering a lot of debt and the share price plummeted nearly 40% last year as membership fell and sales and earnings did the same. The stock is now remarkably cheap, selling for only one times sales and less than eight times earnings.
My friend Alex Green, the highly acclaimed Investment Direct for The Oxford Club, recently pointed out the investment theme for this deflated but relevant company and WTW's stock.
"CEO James Chambers intends to turn things around beginning with a new marketing campaign that kicks off this month. And, despite being around for nearly half a century, Weight Watchers has only recently begun marketing specifically to men.
"By next year, the number of overweight and obese people in the world is estimated to reach 3 billion. Weight Watchers already has a presence in 11 countries and is expanding its international Internet operations, too."
Alex has a good point when he writes, "Look at the charts of other weight-loss companies like NutriSystem (NASDAQ:NTRI) and Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) and its clear that rebounds in these stocks can be substantial. Weight Watchers is one primed for a significant bounce".
Yes, WTW is a turnaround story, so do your own due diligence and see for yourself if the company's plans for expansion and profitability resonate with you. Compare it with NTRI and HLF as well.
Now for a Virtual "No-Brainer" and Telecom Colossus
In the first quarter of 2014 Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) will complete its sale of the 45% interest it owned in Verizon Wireless for around $130 billion, mainly in cash and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) shares. VZ already has the money set aside to complete the transaction and begin benefiting from its ownership of 100% of Verizon Wireless.
For now, the best upside potential in the telecom sector is likely to be Verizon Communication. It's Verizon Wireless division was the first national wireless provider in the United States to build and operate a large-scale 4G LTE network it claims is the most advanced wireless network technology available, with speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.
I'm not going to belabor the benefits and reasons why I think VZ is such a timely and compelling investment theme. I recently wrote an article that delves into those details.
If you can buy the shares below $49, and at some point soon, like after its January 21st earnings call the opportunity may arise, you'll earn a 4.4% dividend with the possibility of an upside surprise. If VZ exceeds its EPS and revenue forecast for its last quarter, that surprise may include a raise in its dividend and a spike in its share price.
Where else can you earn a sustainable 4.4% yield from a telecom titan that has the credibility to borrow $49 billion from investors (like it did in Sept.2013) at a very low interest rates? It did this in order to consolidate its lucrative wireless communications business and earn a projected $125 to $126 billion in sales revenue in 2014.
Like its competitor AT&T (NYSE:T), it faces formidable competition, but VZ's network and infrastructure is undoubtedly the best in the industry today.
In the Final Analysis
Whether you wait for a correction to buy attractively priced and lucratively positioned companies or not, the four presented here all have very compelling stories with plenty of upside potential.
Of the four, HollyFrontier and Foot Locker are the ones I'll likely wait on and let the share prices come to me. You might consider doing the same.
Disclosure: I am long T, VOD, VZ. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.