Well, February is over and that means spring is coming — and hopefully, so is an uptick in the market.
March is historically a great month for investors, and April has been even better. Since 1945, March has seen stocks climb higher about two-thirds of the time and April has a 69% success rate. Those odds make it a great month to do some spring cleaning in your portfolio, weeding out the duds and adding some more promising bets.
However, this year things are a little bit trickier than they’ve been in the past because market volatility during the second half of the year is looking very likely with the potential for interest rate increases. There’s also some concern that the 10% decline we saw in February was just the beginning of a larger correction.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five stocks to pick up in March.
Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: Ryanair Holdings plc (RYAAY)
Europe’s largest discount airline Ryanair Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:RYAAY) has had its fair share of troubles so far this year. The company suffered from a pilot shortage and a spate of bad press that ended up forcing the airline to cancel 20,000 flights.
However, the firm appears to have escaped the public relations nightmare relatively unscathed. Ryanair’s third-quarter results showed that revenue was up 4.4% from the year-ago quarter and the company’s EPS rose by 12%. If there’s one thing that RYAAY investors have come to count on, it’s that the company will make money.
The firm’s bare-bones, low-cost model has given it a leg up on competitors because, despite their complaints, Europeans flock to the airline because of it’s unbeatable low fares. RYAAY’s focus on keeping costs down and improving efficiency has also helped profits grow roughly 18% each year over the past 5 years. That kind of profit growth is expected to continue in the decade to come and with the summer travel season approaching, RYAAY is a great pick.
Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: Apache Corporation (APA)
If you haven’t already started considering oil stocks for your portfolio, now is a great time to do so. Oil prices started to rise at the end of 2017 helping bring some life back into the sector, but the February correction beat most of those gains back down, giving investors another opportunity to pick up promising oil and gas stocks for bargain prices.
Oil and gas exploration company Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) is a great pick in this space because the firm has a lot going for itself in the coming year. During the downturn, Apache management trimmed the fat and created a leaner, more efficient company which is likely to prosper now that times are a bit easier. Unlike some of its competitors who sold anything and everything to keep their heads above water, Apache was smart about its asset sales and its profitable arms with future potential are still running. The company also stayed away from making costly acquisitions and instead invested in its own exploration and production which has put it in an excellent position for the year ahead.
Not only that, but the firm’s third-quarter earnings beat was largely ignored by the market due to the correction- however some of the issues weighing on investor confidence look likely to dissolve this year. The firm’s oil discovery in the Delaware Basin is also expected to start paying off by the end of this year, making now a great time to add APA to your portfolio.
Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: Celgene Corporation (CELG)
Biotech company Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) had a tough year last year. The company was hit with disappointing news regarding its Crohn’s disease drug and later failed to impress investors with its quarterly results and paired down future guidance. However, now that the stock is trading at just over $87 per share, I’d say it’s more than paid the price.
The thing about CELG is that although the Crohn’s disease drug’s failure was a setback, the firm still has a lot going for itself. The company’s drug portfolio includes 4 heavy hitters that bring in more than 13 billion in revenue each year. The treatments for lung cancer, auto-immune disease and blood cancer offer a solid base, but the company also has several new drugs coming up for approval this year that could further propel the stock.
The company is also working to secure FDA approval for new indications and formulations for some of its flagship drugs, which would significantly increase sales for these treatments and boost the firm’s revenue potential.
In addition to pipeline drugs, CELG also has plans to acquire Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JUNO) and I’d say the benefits of that purchase haven’t been priced in yet with the stock trading at just 10 times its forecasted earnings.
Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: International Business Machines (IBM)
The past 5 years have been pretty bumpy for tech firm IBM (NYSE:IBM) and although the company is still facing some headwinds, I think it’s finally heading in the right direction. CEO Ginny Rometty appears to have righted the ship and the company finally returned to profitability in the fourth quarter after 22 straight quarters of reported losses.
Things are looking up for IBM, where it’s “strategic imperatives” arm has finally started to overshadow it’s lagging legacy business — hardware. Included under the strategic imperatives umbrella are exciting tech trends like cloud computing and blockchai — both of which are expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.
Not to mention that the firm’s most recent earnings report, although upbeat, was dulled by a $5.5 billion charge that IBM was forced to take because of the new tax bill.
However, with the one-time charge out of the way and the business looking to be heading in the right direction, I doubt IBM will be this cheap for long.
Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: Apple Inc. (AAPL)
Tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been the subject of controversy lately with some touting the firm’s long-term potential (I’m looking at you Buffett) and others advising to take profits as soon as possible. I’m on the Buffett side of things when it comes to AAPL stock, though.
While I’ll agree that Apple is heavily reliant on iPhone sales and the most recent model fell short of expectations, that’s not enough to make me lose faith in The Fruit. For one, Apple has an extremely loyal following and the ease of moving from one Apple device to another is enough to deter people from jumping ship. Not only that, but there’s more to AAPL that meets the iPhone.
Apple has been growing its services business quickly over the past year and Apple Music is seen overtaking Spotify and becoming the largest streaming subscription service in the coming year. The company’s iPad business has started to turn around as well, and its MacBook computers are rumored to have a major update coming in 2019.
In addition to the fact that I like Apple’s business and believe the firm has a wide moat, I also like management’s shareholder-friendly attitude. Apple has been kind to shareholders with its excess cash in the past, and is likely to continue that trend once it is able to repatriate its overseas cash hoard. Those benefits are likely to propel the stock higher during the second half of the year, so buying AAPL stock now could have both short-term and long-term benefits.
As of this writing, Laura Hoy was long RYAAY, AAPL and APA.