Five Good Stocks to Buy in 2020

Consistent with the approach taken over the past eight years, we'll use the techniques of value investing described elsewhere on this website to identify five good stocks to buy in 2020. Last year was a good one for investors in the stock market, with broader measures of the market's performance increasing significantly over the last twelve months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 15.5%, while the S&P 500 Index finished the year with a 31.5% gain. The year the DJIA also hit a new milestones, surpassing the 27,000 mark for the first time in July of 2019.

Picking Stocks

We're going to start with a brief discussion of the stock picks' performance from last year. Next, we'll briefly run through the process of finding stocks that represent a good value. Then we'll finish up with a list of stocks for 2020, including the rationale for choosing each of the stocks selected.

2019 Stock Pick Performance

Four out of the five stocks picked last year performed well when compared to the Dow and the S&P 500. As the table below demonstrates, the worst performing stock was Verizon, which came in nearly 25% lower than its peers:

Five Good Stocks to Buy in 2019

Ticker Company Performance
APPL Apple Inc. 106.5%
BAC Bank of America 43.4%
INTC Intel 34.5%
JPM JPMorgan Chase & Co. 43.6%
VZ Verizon Communications 9.2%

The average of the portfolio was 47.4%%. This performance is much better than our 2018 picks, and surpasses both the DJIA and S&P 500 in what was a great year for equities. The standout is Apple Computer, which gained over 100% on the year.

The performance of this approach over the last seven years versus the S&P 500 and DJIA appears in the following table:

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Prior Year Stock Picks 59.0% 20.0% -9.97 14.57% 27.7% -13.8% 47.4%
DJIA 28.1% 8.2% -2.29 16.50% 25.1% -5.9% 15.5%
S&P 500 31.8% 11.8% -0.69 9.53% 18.9% -6.9% 31.5%

Good Stocks to Buy in 2020

The process used for picking securities is based on a systematic approach to researching and selecting stocks. This multi-step approach is based on value investing; something embraced by Benjamin Graham, an economist and premier investor.

Intrinsic Value

There is always a choice to invest money in relatively safe, risk-free securities such as government bonds. When buying stock in a company, it's important to adequately compensate for the additional risk; that means investing in companies with high intrinsic value.

Benjamin Graham Formula

is first calculated, and then compared with the last price of the stock. Ranking companies is then possible according to their intrinsic value and last price ratio, using the intrinsic value calculation is shown below:

Intrinsic Value = (EPS x (8.5 + 2G) x 4.4) / Y

Where:

  • EPS = the company's earnings per share over the last 12 months
  • 8.5 = the value Benjamin Graham proposed as the price to earnings ratio for a zero growth company
  • G = the company's five-year growth rate
  • 4.4 = the average yield of AAA rated corporate bonds back in 1962, when the model was initially developed
  • Y = the current yield of AAA corporate bonds

In the above example, the value of Y was based on the 20-year composite AAA yield of 2.25%

Earnings per Share

Another important measure of a company's financial strength is their earnings per share. This measure tells the investor how much money a company earned in each period, stated in terms of each share of common stock issued. Industry analysts often project earnings per share into the future. This projection is based on guidance received from the company they're analyzing. The future earnings of a company are the key to deriving an estimate of a stock's future price.

Excellent Stocks

The last screen involves choosing excellent stocks. This eliminates from consideration companies that sell commodity-type products. It's important to find companies that command a price premium in the marketplace because they have either strong brand recognition and / or loyal customers.

Five Good Stocks

The above stock screening resulted in roughly 235 candidate companies from a universe of around 2,000 stocks. The five good stocks to buy in 2020 were selected because of their strong financial performance and widespread brand recognition.

Five Good Stocks to Buy in 2020

Ticker Company Industry / Sector
C Citigroup Financial Services / Banks - Diversified
NCLH Norwegian Cruise Line Consumer Cyclical / Travel Services
BAC Bank of America Financial Services / Banks - Global
ETFC E-TRADE Financial Services / Capital Markets
BIIB Biogen Healthcare / Drug Manufacturers - General

Rationale for Stock Picks

All the above stocks satisfied the requirements of the process, and show strength in the following three areas:

  • Excellent Companies: these companies have strong brand recognition, and none sell commodity-type products.
  • Earnings per Share: the consensus among market analysts is that these companies are all expected to demonstrate strong earnings per share growth over the next five years.
  • Financial Stability: these companies also have a strong balance sheet when looking at interest coverage and debt-to-equity ratios.

Companies Selected

Below is a brief description of the companies picked in 2020, and their major business operations:

  • Citigroup Inc.: provides various financial products and services for consumers, corporations, governments, and institutions worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Global Consumer Banking (GCB), which offers traditional banking services to retail customers and Institutional Clients Group (ICG), which provides wholesale banking products and services.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines: operates as a cruise company in the United States and internationally, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. It offers cruise itineraries ranging from a few days to 180-days calling on various locations.
  • Bank of America Corporation: through its subsidiaries, provides banking and financial products and services for individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses, institutional investors, large corporations, and governments worldwide. It operates through four segments: Consumer Banking, Global Wealth & Investment Management (GWIM), Global Banking, and Global Markets.
  • E*TRADE Financial Services: delivers solutions for traders, investors, advisors, and stock plan administrators and participants. It also offers investor-focused banking products, primarily sweep deposits to customers. The company provides its services to customers through digital platforms; and a network of industry-licensed customer service representatives and financial consultants.
  • Biogen: discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers therapies for treating neurological and neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. The company offers treatment of multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy; and plaque psoriasis. It also offers drugs for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and rheumatoid arthritis. The company offers products through its sales force and marketing groups.

Stock Pick Disclaimer

There are many ways to go about picking stocks, and we've mentioned several other methods in articles such as Dogs of the Dow and Dow Diamonds. The purpose of this publication goes well beyond distributing a list of stocks to buy in 2020. It serves as a demonstration of the thought process behind a sound stock-picking technique.


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