Dow Theory's Top Five Stock Ideas

02/26/2014 9:00 am EST


Richard Moroney

Editor, Dow Theory Forecasts

Since its inception in 1994, our Focus List has delivered a price return of 462.1% on a fully invested basis, well ahead of the S&P 500's 296.2% gain, explains Richard Moroney in Dow Theory Forecasts, a newsletter focused on quality and value.

Our Focus List generally contains our 12 to 17 best ideas for the next 12 months. But we don't always love all members of the Focus List equally. For those looking to fill out an existing portfolio, start with these five stocks, our favorite picks.

Google (GOOG)

Unlike the other four stocks featured below, Google is not cheap, trading at 27 times trailing earnings and earning a Quadrix Value score of 31. However, it looks more reasonable based on the long-term outlook, with a PEG ratio (P/E divided by estimated five-year profit growth) of 1.2, cheaper than about 68% of US stocks.

Google is forging a lot of projects in the fire—if just one of them comes to fruition, it could open up a big new source of growth. Meanwhile, the core advertising business still has plenty of potential.

Helmerich & Payne (HP)

Helmerich & Payne is expanding its fleet of high-end rigs and taking market share. The company is now projected to earn $6.07 per share in fiscal 2014 ending September, implying 8% growth, on 7% higher sales. The stock yields 2.8%.

The stock has surged 50% since joining the Focus List in January 2013, but the shares still look reasonably attractive at 15 times trailing earnings, a 10% discount to the median for S&P 1500 energy stocks. A perennial standout in Quadrix, H&P's Overall score has exceeded 95 for, at least, 13 straight months.

Skyworks Solutions (SWKS)

Skyworks builds radio-frequency semiconductors to transmit that data between smartphones and other mobile devices. While demand ramps for traditional wireless gadgets, Skyworks aggressively expands into such new areas as wired homes, cars, and healthcare equipment.

The stock earns the maximum rank of 100 for Quadrix Overall and both sector-specific scores. All six Quadrix category scores exceed 80. The stock trades at 12 times estimated earnings for the current fiscal year, 25% below the average forward P/E for S&P 500 technology stocks.

United Rentals (URI)

Equipment-rental leader United Rentals is leveraged to the US economy, which we see improving this year. The firm seems capable of generating excess cash to reduce balance sheet leverage and also fund its plans to repurchase $450 million in shares, or about 6% of the total outstanding.

The improving outlook doesn't seem fully reflected in its stock price. Shares trade at 11 times estimated 2014 earnings, a 30% discount to the median for S&P 1500 industrial stocks. United Rentals scores above 95 for Quadrix Overall and both sector-specific ranks.

Wells Fargo (WFC)

Wells Fargo has slogged through a couple quarters of sluggish growth. But its shares look cheap, and long-term prospects remain intact. Management sees 2014 as a year of modest improvement, a trend reflected in consensus estimates, with per-share profits projected to rise 4%.

At 12 times trailing earnings, the stock trades 31% below its sector median. The stock yields 2.6%. It expects to boost the quarterly dividend and stock buybacks this year, with an announcement likely in March.

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