It’s summertime and the living is easy. Or at least it should be. These days, volatility is getting pretty crazy. While the Federal-Reserve-induced swings have been moving the market higher, it was just a few weeks ago that trade issues were sending stocks lower. This sort of extreme ebb and flow is not exactly the kind of environment that breeds restful nights of sleep. This is especially true if you are near or in retirement.
That is unless you focus on boring stocks.
Perhaps the best stocks to buy this summer are the ones you don’t have to think about. We’re talking about boring stocks that generate good revenues in good times and in bad. Nothing too flashily. No crazy exposure or reliance on trendy sectors of the market. Moreover, these stocks reward investors with plenty of dividends and buybacks. You can simply buy shares, collect your income and just forget about them.
In the end, with volatility surging and the markets moving in a big way, the stocks to buy this summer are the boring ones. It’s the best strategy to get through and not get seasick.
With that said, here are five boring stocks to buy this summer.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
One of the best stocks to buy this summer could be Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). When it comes to the healthcare sector, there’s no bigger blue chip than JNJ. The firm’s empire spans more than 250 operating companies across a variety of healthcare subsectors. That includes consumer healthcare products and medical devices to advanced oncology and immunology drugs. JNJ really does it all.
And doing it all makes it a pretty boring stock as well.
Thanks to JNJ’s multiple product lines, the firm has been able to navigate some tough economic markets over the course of its history. When one of its product lines is suffering, another can pick up the slack. And the fact that JNJ sells its products in more than 60 countries is the icing on the cake. The firm’s adjusted earnings have continued to increase for over 35 years based on its deep product line. Moreover, it has been able to increase its dividend for the last 57 years straight. Currently, Johnson & Johnson yields 2.71%. That’s a very impressive track record that allows it to keep going during times of duress.
Now, there is some new risk at JNJ, such as it’s own going talc issues as well as a new pending opioid lawsuit. But even here, JNJ’s size and scope will help it navigate with relative ease.
All in all, JNJ could one of the best stocks to buy this summer.
Republic Services (RSG)
According to the latest EPA survey, Americans generate more than 254 million tons of trash or recyclables per year. That’s a lot of garbage. But for Republic Services (NYSE:RSG), that trash is a gold mine.
RSG is one of the largest trash haulers in the nation. That position provides it plenty of scales. And scale is important in the garbage industry. The problem is that hauling garbage is a relatively low-margined business. By having that scale, Republic is able to earn a little from all its operations. Moreover, it’s able to undercut most smaller mom and pop operators for winning key job bids. This base of operations, as well as ownership of its own landfills, has allowed RSG to quickly become a dividend champion — growing its payout by an average of 8% over the last three years.
But RSG is finding ways to boost its potential as well.
That includes boost higher-margined recyclable hauling as well as expanding into other areas of waste disposal. Republic now owns several saltwater disposal wells from the oil and gas industry and has moved into providing renewable energy. Turns out, landfills throw off plenty of natural gas that can be burned for energy production, while several of its sites are prime candidates for solar and wind power.
Trash is boring, but RSG is turning that boring nature into gold.
The stocks to buy this summer could be the utilities. Perhaps nothing more boring than those firms that produce electricity, water, and natural gas. That includes top-notch utility Southern (NYSE:SO). SO is one of the largest-regulated utilities in the nation and provides power to more than 9 million customers across several states. This provides SO with plenty of steady cash flows that continue to fuel its growth and shareholder rewards.
The firm has paid dividends since the 1950’s and has raised its payout over the last 17 years straight.
Fueling that dividend growth has been the unregulated side of its businesses. A few years ago, Southern purchased pipeline and gas supplier AGL Resources. A similar buy of gas supplier NICOR followed. This moved Southern into the pipeline industry. It turns out this was a great decision. While the combination of FERC-regulated pipelines as well as unregulated gathering/trunk lines have helped boost SO’s overall profits since the buyouts.
Southern isn’t without its warts. The firm has continued to struggle with carbon capture projects and has taken a bath on its nuclear plants thanks to cost overruns and bankruptcy of its contractor Westinghouse. This has pressured the firm in recent quarters.
However, the vast bulk of Southern is good, old-fashioned and boring power generation. And because of that, SO makes a great stock to buy for its high 4.6% yield this summer.
I think I’d rather watch paint dry than talk about the insurance industry. But when it comes to the boring stocks to buy, the insurance sector is often top-notch. The sector is able to make plenty of bank on its underwriting and the delicious float from its investments. One of the best could be insurer Chubb (NYSE:CB).
CB is a multi-line insurer and has operations that span pretty much every sub-category of insurance. This includes property and casualty, accident and health, reinsurance, and life insurance. Chubb does it all and it does so across the globe.
What’s great about that multi-line approach is the CB is surprisingly profitable. Chubb takes a real hands-on approach to its underwriting- especially when it comes to reinsurance and insuring property/casualty lines for businesses. This has allowed it to have an amazing average combined ratio- a key metric of profitability in the insurance industry- that has come in 8.7 percentage points lower than many of its rivals over the last ten years. When you add in profits from its float investments, you have a real winner on your hands.
This has continued to drive CB’s dividend over its history. The firm has managed to raise its payout over the last 26 years straight. This includes a recent 3% bump at the beginning of the summer. With continued float gains and smart underwriting, Chubb should continue to keep the gains coming.
For investors, insurance is as boring as they come. But Chubb makes a great stock to buy for years of steady gains.
Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ)
It turns out, the boring world of cookies, crackers and chewing gum provides perfect ballast to the market’s gyrations. That’s wonderful news for former Kraft-Heinz (NYSE:KHC) spin-out Mondelez International (NYSE:MDLZ).
MDLZ features some of the world’s biggest brands in snack foods like Oreo’s, Nabisco and Cadbury candy. What’s great is that snack foods blend the line between being a staple and discretionary item. This allows them to have slightly higher margins than say, toilet paper. However, demand for these sorts of items stays pretty steady. Better still is that MDLZ is able to pass on price increases relatively easy onto consumers. This has helped boost DLZ’s results in recent quarters.
But Mondelez has plenty of growth in the tank as well. The firm has continued to expand into higher-margined healthy snacks as well as emerging markets. And the firm has started to seriously consider adding cannabis to many of its foods as legalization approaches. Given its huge brand portfolio, this could be a major revenue driver in the future.
With a great combination of steady-like demand and plenty of growth potential, MDLZ could be a wonderfully boring stock to buy for this summer.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.