Value Stocks for a Retirement Portfolio

12/25/2017 5:00 am EST

Focus: STRATEGIES

Robert Carlson

Editor, Retirement Watch

With central banks starting to tighten policy while interest rates still are low, we have to avoid fixed-income investments that lose value when rates rise, cations Bob Carlson, editor of Retirement Watch.

We probably reached the bottom of the long-term bond bull market in July 2016. I think in 2018 interest rates will rise more than markets anticipate.

There are a few high-yield stocks worth buying. These stocks didn’t participate in much of the 2017 stock market rally. Each is a good value, has attractive prospects for the next year or more, sports a high dividend yield and has a history of increasing dividends.

In the last five years, International Business Machines (IBM) delivered a negative total return, while the S&P 500 returned more than 130%. Revenue declined for years because it shed non-strategic businesses and lost share to competitors in other businesses.

But revenue overall is stabilizing, and the company is increasing in its strategic businesses. The company is delivering breakthroughs in cloud computing, computer hardware, servers and other areas after years of investing heavily.

The dividend yield currently is 3.89%. The stock shot up a bit in November after a positive article in Barron’s, but gave back some of those gains. It’s a good deal near the recent price of $155.

I’m also recommending a couple of telecommunications stocks. Telecom stocks lost value in 2017. The stocks started to increase late in the year as investors noticed the bargains. Also, telecom companies are likely to be major beneficiaries of any tax reform.

Verizon (VZ) is known for its wireless network, all-fiber network and various business services. It has had fairly steady revenue, earnings and cash flow growth in recent years. The current yield is 4.67%. The stock is down about 7% for 2017 but is above its low of the year.

AT&T (T) is not the old telephone monopoly where my father worked. Today, it offers a wireless network and a high-speed internet network, as well as a range of business technology services.

It is expanding in Latin America. The dividend regularly increases each quarter and the current yield is 5.34%. The stock is down about 15% in 2017 but is above the lows reached in early November. Buy either of these telecom stocks at current prices.

If you don’t want to buy individual stocks, you can buy the exchange-traded fund iShares U.S. Telecommunications (IYZ). Its current yield is 4.23%. It’s down about 15% for 2017 but above its lows. Verizon and AT&T are the top holdings, together making up more than 23% of the fund.

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