by Jeff Reeves | July 17, 2012 6:30 am
Many investors are captivated with the idea of low-priced stocks. But the idea that cheaper investments can be more profitable is misplaced.
Let’s say Investor A buys two shares of a stock at $500 and Investor B buys 200 shares of a stock at $5. Both investments cost a $7 transaction fee through an online broker. Both pay a 2% dividend yield. Both see 10% share appreciation across the next year.
And both investments do the exact same thing for your portfolio, to the penny.
So why are you scared to buy expensive stocks, even if you can only buy two or three of the shares? Just use a limit order to prevent your small lot from getting sucked up in the action of the market and remember that size doesn’t matter — only percentage gains.
In fact, these days you may be better served than ever before with going after expensive stocks. Cheap stocks like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) are the target of high frequency trading algorithms. And though less common than it once was, expensive stocks do indeed see splits. Take Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) which is set to split 2-for-1 in several weeks. Historically, a shares see a nice post-split bounce when actions like that take place.
Of course, share price alone isn’t a reason to invest in or avoid a stock. But to help you get past sticker shock, here are five particularly enticing stocks with share prices over $300.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the $600 gorilla of Wall Street that dares you to bet against it.
It has a forward P/E of 11.2 based on 2013 earnings. It just announced a massive dividend and buyback plan worth $10 billion. It is surely going to launch another impressive iteration of the iPhone this summer as the device celebrates its fifth birthday and utter dominance over the competition, and there are rumors of a $299 iPad mini that will debut before Christmas to completely squash the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle and give Apple a strangehold on the tablet market.
And then there are the great earnings and great history of share appreciation – the stock is up 70% or so in the last 12 months, and 300% in the last three years. If you want proof that expensive stocks can serve you well, look no further than Apple. But if you’re looking to get in, then circle Tuesday, July 24, on your calendar, when Apple’s earnings report is expected to thrill Wall Street. (Disclaimer: I personally own shares of Apple).
Autozone (NYSE:AZO) is a high priced stock at almost $400 a share, but it serves a very frugal need. Mainly, the desire among Americans to maintain older cars longer instead of buying new automobiles.According to reports, the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roadways is 11 years. That means more brake pads, more oil changes and more replacement parts from companies like Autozone.
Shares of AZO are up almost 150% from January 2010, but this stock hasn’t peaked yet. It’s up almost 30% in the last year and over 18% year-to-date as earnings and revenue continue to improve. It’s revenue has increased year-over-year every quarter for the last four fiscal years (that’s 16 quarters), as has its earnings per share. You can’t argue with growth like that.
Still, the company has a fairly reasonable forward P/E ratio of 14.2 based on 2013 numbers. AZO just reported its fiscal Q3 numbers in May so don’t expect another report until September.
Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) makes the innovative da Vinci surgical systems that have revolutionized operations used to treat cancer and heart disease, among other things. Without getting too technical, Intuitive Surgical gear allows doctors to operate on a patient with fewer incisions, speeding up recovery time and reducing the risk of complications.
ISRG is up 300% since 2009 and has doubled its pre-recession highs thanks to aging Baby Boomers creating increased demand for these kind of surgeries. The company has seen 12 straight quarters of year-over-year profit increases and has seen a streak of revenue increases longer than 16 (I stopped counting after four full fiscal years).
Health care is one of the few growth areas in the American economy, and ISRG is well positioned to capitalize on this trend. The company has zero debt and boasts roughly $1 billion in cash and short-term investments. It has also authorized over $1.3 billion in stock across the last three years.
Throw in a strong history of earnings, including three-straight double-digit surpises, and you can see why ISRG would be a good buy even at over $500 a share. Just act before the Wednesday, July 18 earnings report, however, or you may be paying even more. ISRG reports after the close.
MasterCard (NYSE:MA) is at the center of a macro trend that is tough to ignore: the death of paper money and the increasing dominance of e-commerce that relies on electronic banking.
Per-swipe transactions continue to rise in America, but the real growth for MasterCard (and, for the record, its peer Visa (NYSE:V) that doesn’t have a pricey per-share valuation) is coming from emerging markets in Latin America and Asia where reliance on bank accounts and debit cards are on the rise.
MasterCard stock is up almost 20% year-to-date on strong growth, and has doubled since January 2011. It’s no secret why — revenue is up for 12 consecutive quarters, year-over-year, and fiscal 2012 earnings are on track to jump about 50% over 2011 numbers.
Clearly the consumer spending fears don’t matter for MasterCard, where swipes for consumer staples are just as nice as swipes for luxury goods. Mastercard reports earnings Aug. 1. For more detail, read Charles Sizemore’s take on the power of MasterCard.
Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) is in the right place during a spending slowdown with its “name your own price” model for airfares, hotels, rental cars and a host of other services.
However, the real growth isn’t at home from people booking trips to Florida to see the grandparents — it’s internationally. PCLN offers hotel room reservations in about 100 countries and more than 40 languages. In Q1, for instance, international revenue soard by 59%.
It’s also doing a good job cross-selling, not just booking flights. The main driver of its strong first quarter was a jump in hotel reservations that go with the car rentals and plane seats its selling. Competitor Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) managed to best PCLN in Q2, tacking on a stunning 44% gain in just three months. But this stock is no slouch. Priceline is up 36% year-to-date in 2012 and 60% since early 2011.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing Jeff Reeves owned a long position in Apple.
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