#4: Merck (MRK)
Despite the fact that Merck (MRK) lost the exclusive rights to Singulair last year, its leading allergy and asthma drug, the company’s shares are up a decent 21% year-to-date — and they’ve beaten earnings estimates every quarter along the way.
The valuation looks stretched at 14 times forward earnings, as five-year growth is forecast at just 2.5%. MRK also looks a bit expensive now that it’s trading back up near the 52-week high of $50.42 it set earlier this month.
There’s no denying, however, that MRK’s dependable 3.5% dividend yield merits the company as a safe, long-term income holding, especially considering its low volatility, steady price appreciation and dividend growth over the years.