While stirring around my cubicle one day, I offered up to several colleagues a reason investors might be wary of getting back into the market after the carnage that was May.
Simply stated, the “high-flyers” for which investment professionals salivate (because of their upside appreciation potential) just cost too much to buy, and the number of shares that a hypothetical $10,000 stake could buy would be psychologically immaterial, even if you made a big bet on the stock.
Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), perhaps the “surest” bet in the market, and another swing-for-the-fences giant, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), are priced similarly today at around $560 per share — or about 18 shares for your $10k. Priceline‘s (NASDAQ:PCLN) $620 sticker will get you 16 shares, while a “bargain” stock like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) — a steal for $212, though not for its 174 P/E — still would translate into only 48 shares.
With this goal in mind, I challenged both Editor Jeff Reeves and Assistant Editor Kyle Woodley to come up with five stocks that traded at $20 per share or less, so that our hypothetical investor could buy a minimum of 100 shares in each company. In a matter of two hours, we had our list.
The following five stocks represent some of the best-known — and most readily available — stocks for investors looking to fund an equally weighted portfolio with a $10,000 start, so roughly $2,000 spent on each stock. First, a snapshot of our sample portfolio, and then we’ll break it down:
|# of Shares*||Dividend Yield|
|Goodyear Tire & Rubber||GT||$9.54||209||N/A|
|* Number of shares rounded off from fractions|
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) is all about aluminum, and Jeff Reeves’ pick for the 10 Best Stocks for 2012 contest. AA shares trade at 2009 valuations — even after having laid off thousands of employees and streamlining operations to get back to profitability. People still need aluminum in their everyday lives, so there’s at least some baseline demand — and if the law of averages and markets ever holds true, eventually we will get an economic recovery, and Alcoa will be set to boom.
AA is priced at $8.45 per share, which will start your portfolio with 136 shares. The stock also features a modest quarterly dividend of 3 cents per share, or a yield of 1.4% — not a bad start.
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is as beaten-down a tech stock as you can get, with shares suffering roughly 14% losses after management admitted that tech spending is shrinking and that earnings might be squeezed during the next few quarters. Of course, the company’s struggles aren’t measured in months, but years. CSCO shares have conceded all their post-crisis rebound gains and are down almost 40% since their 2007 heyday around $32, after a decade that saw an astounding 1,000% growth rate.
I’m not exactly sure why the selling momentum still prevails. After all, companies still need information technology infrastructure, and Cisco remains at the forefront in its slice of the networking pie. Perhaps some new blood is needed in the C-suite to work the magic on Wall Street analysts. For now, CSCO’s $16.12 price tag will net you 124 shares — and while you’re waiting for things to turn around, Cisco offers a decent 2% dividend yield.
Corning (NYSE:GLW) is a tech stock with high-level products that include Gorilla Glass and fiber optics. Unfortunately, it trades like the old glass-works company that started 160 years ago. An innovative tech company that sells for a mere 7 times trailing earnings deserves a little bit more love from investors — though one can understand the hesitancy, considering it’s down 40% since 2011.
Still, a 32% profit margin, $6 billion in cash and $3 billion in free cash flow are nothing to sneeze at, so I’m not sure what is holding Corning down. Scoop up 160 shares of GLW at around $12.50 per share, and revel in a 2.4% yield.
Goodyear (NYSE:GT): I am not as big a believer here as my colleagues, but in the name of fair play, let’s put GT out there. The company spent time and money to restructure, and it has positioned itself for any rebound in the tire sector resulting from growth in auto sales both domestically and abroad.
However, I am confused about Goodyear’s price. For all the optimism about the future, the stock trades at a paltry 4 times forward earnings. GT showed mediocre results for the recent quarter, and their debt-to-equity ratio is soaring. GT seems a little risky, and it’s the one pick here that won’t pay you to hold it. But the price is right — both at a bargain-basement valuation and a low sticker of $9.54 per share — and the potential is there, so buy 209 shares.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is on its way back into the mainstream of conglomerate conversation. After reinstating its dividend — thanks in large part to GE Capital once again upstreaming dividends to the parent company — GE is poised to deliver good news to shareholders for some time to come. The industrial’s unit is churning out product and earnings, and “green” initiative in health care and wind turbines industries is paying dividends every quarter. The company is diversified, and its infrastructure business should weather future storms. In the meantime, the capital group’s balance sheet is no longer a drag on earnings.
At just more than $18 per share, you can buy 109 shares of GE, which also features the best dividend of the bunch at a 3.7% yield.
Depending on when you read this, the buy-in prices might vary, so just look to invest roughly $2,000 per company. And, as always, you should do your own individual homework before investing and once you’re in. However, so we all have a little accountability, we will do a quarterly review of the portfolio and publish performance updates.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long GE.