I am always looking for great companies in which to invest, and one company that passes my demanding screens is Baxter International (NYSE:BAX). This top-tier healthcare outfit ($14 billion annual sales) makes devices and supplies that people can’t live without: kidney-dialysis machines, for example, and treatments for hemophilia and immune deficiencies. Strict regulatory controls on the development and marketing of such products create high barriers to entry for potential competitors.
Six or seven years ago, it was common for Baxter shares to trade at 18 to 20 times estimated year-ahead earnings. Today, BAX is selling for just 11X forward earnings, even though the company posted record profits in 2011 and is expected to repeat the performance in 2012. I’ll take a 40%-50% discount anytime!
Better yet, the stock is throwing off a respectable 2.6% dividend, the dole having been sweetened five years in a row. (To capture the July 1 disbursement, you’ll need to buy the stock no later than June 5).) Pay up to $55. From today’s level, I’m projecting a total return of more than 20% in the coming year.
Bonus: Looking for safety? BAX is a member of the elite S&P 500 Low-Volatility Index, which consists of the 100 steadiest stocks out of the 500 that make up the S&P. If you want to eat well and sleep well, too, buy stocks, like Baxter, with a statistically proven track record of low volatility.