There’s no actual difference if a large-cap stock presents a value at a price $15 or $1,500. You decide if you want to buy the stock, then purchase the amount you wish to hold in dollars and cents. Share count is irrelevant. What matters when it comes to cheap stocks isn’t the absolute-dollar basis, but the valuation basis.
Nevertheless, I admit to some attraction regarding large-cap stocks that are cheap on an absolute-dollar basis. It suggests that the stock is so out of favor that you can pick up many shares of it for very little money, then dispose of it in little pieces as the stock rises. (Whereas a large-cap company with a high nominal price would be difficult to dispose of in pieces.)
So, here’s the best of both worlds: three large-cap stocks that are cheap both on a valuation basis and a nominal basis:
Cheap Large-Cap Stocks to Buy – Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) presents an interesting case. It is one of the world’s largest financial services companies and banks. You know RBS here in the U.S. as NatWest … so just because it happens to be based in Scotland doesn’t mean its reach doesn’t extend elsewhere.
I’ve met bankers from the company, and was impressed with the breadth of its product offerings. There are the standard retail and commercial banking products, but RBS also provides invoice and asset-based financing, which tend to be high-yielding products, as well as private wealth management from which the bank earns high fees. RBS also plays around with debt financing, fixed income investments and currency exchange.
In addition, the bank is going to fill the gap for payday lending in the UK, left open by onerous regulation that it can handle and payday lenders can not.
RBS has been struggling all year, but shot up by double digits Friday on a positive earnings report. This nearly 300-year-old institution isn’t going under anytime soon. The path of least resistance is up.
Cheap Large-Cap Stocks to Buy – Ericsson (ERIC)
Ericsson (ERIC) was all the rage among tech’s large-cap stocks 15 years ago when cell phones were a growth industry. The company has struggled, but second-quarter earnings delivered a big operating margins surprise (from 4.5% to 7.3%).
The hidden asset, however, is Ericcson’s balance sheet. It has about $5.25 billion in net cash on its balance sheet, and that’s about $5 per share, giving the company an effective stock price of $7.67.
The company turns a profit, generated $2.9 billion of free cash flow in the quarter, and pays a 3.6% dividend (paid annually). While the information and communications tech market is challenging for everyone, I put more faith in Ericsson because of its wealth of experience than I would most other companies.
Cheap Large-Cap Stocks to Buy – Boston Scientific (BSX)
Boston Scientific (BSX) is one of those stocks I promise myself I will do more research on but never get around to.
I’m changing my tune, though. This legendary medical device company has become a leader in its industry. It is a reliable cash flow generator ($800 million in FY13) because its products so well, and sell repeatedly. Meanwhile, BSX has a brand name that continues to engage in R&D in an industry that continues to grow.
Boston Scientific does have competition, and that has been a struggle. The debt load is significant at $4.2 billion, and it’s relatively expensive debt, costing around 7.5% annually.
Nevertheless, there is massive institutional and mutual fund ownership, and that’s because it is so reliable with its cash flow. I think, then, the $13 share price probably has a floor near its $9.60 52-week low, and that there is room for more upside than downside.
As of this writing, Lawrence Meyers did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. He is president of PDL Broker, Inc., which brokers financing, strategic investments and distressed asset purchases between private equity firms and businesses. He also has written two books and blogs about public policy, journalistic integrity, popular culture, and world affairs. Contact him at email@example.com and follow his tweets at @ichabodscranium.