At least on paper, the novel coronavirus pandemic has produced many value stocks to buy. Before this awful outbreak, the economy was moving at a solid clip while Wall Street was enjoying record-breaking valuations. But suddenly, the coronavirus dissolved the floor underneath the markets, sending almost everything tumbling. Therefore, you can make the case that these impacted companies are trading below their pre-pandemic fundamentals.
While that’s true for some names, investors will be served by filtering out what are true value stocks and what are really value traps. For the former, these are publicly traded companies whose securities are trading below metrics such as implied earnings or sales. In turn, you’d be wise to grab these opportunities. However, the latter involves equities that are merely cheaply priced and often for a reason.
A great way to think about value stocks is to consider the restaurant industry. As you know, Covid-19 has done a number on this market segment. Many will close their doors for good, and those who don’t will have successfully pivoted to the new normal. These may be considered value stocks as they trade at a discount to their post-pandemic earnings and/or sales.
On the other hand, restaurant brands that are exclusively levered to buffet-style businesses may be permanently busted. One of the shocking breaking news we’ve seen this year is that President Donald Trump and the First Lady tested positive for Covid-19. Regardless of political differences, rational Americans all wish him well.
But this goes to show you that nobody is safe from the coronavirus, not even the most powerful person on Earth. That’s why it’s no surprise that certain businesses such as buffet-style restaurants have collapsed. Thus, it’s vital to know which companies are faking their value proposition and which ones are viable value stocks to buy, such as these seven companies.
- Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX)
- Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII)
- 3M (NYSE:MMM)
- Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)
- Robert Half International (NYSE:RHI)
- Kellogg Company (NYSE:K)
- Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN)
For this list, I’m basing my forward valuation assumptions on likely post-election or post-pandemic circumstances. And because most of these companies are trading away from the limelight, I believe they have high-growth potential. So without any more delay, let’s discuss seven value stocks that should see significant upside.
Value Stocks to Buy: Raytheon Technologies (RTX)
Going back to the time when he was candidate Donald J. Trump, our President has not had the warmest things to say about certain military veterans. For instance, we all know about how he mocked the late Senator John McCain. Plus, he has burned through quite an impressive list of military advisors.
Nevertheless, despite the obvious tensions between Trump and the military, defense contractors must surely love the man. With his no-filter approach, especially with big boy adversaries like China, the long-term case for Raytheon Technologies improves substantially. However, RTX stock hasn’t looked too hot recently.
A major reason of course is that Trump’s handling of the coronavirus has been less than ideal. Furthermore, the presidential debate against former Vice President Joe Biden was, according to the New York Times, a “dumpster fire.” Biden might even seek a reset in relations with China, which isn’t ideal for RTX stock.
Still, I think Raytheon is one of the underappreciated value stocks to buy. After all, Democrats are known to get scrappy with their foreign relations, which cynically supports the military industrial complex. Thus, people are not understanding the upside potential for Raytheon and its ilk.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)
As I mentioned in prior InvestorPlace publications, I don’t believe that Joe Biden won the debate. I have many friends who vote Democrat. Even they have got to admit that Biden looked shaky at times as the world stared upon him. Still, he wasn’t the fumbling, bumbling fool that President Trump made him out to be. Certainly, he didn’t appear senile, which in a backhanded way was a victory for Biden.
And that means if presidential debates matter, the circumstances appear to favor the Democratic challenger. Theoretically, this is bad news for defense firms like Huntington Ingalls Industries. Indeed, the situation is particularly painful for HII stock. Unlike other defense plays, Huntington Ingalls focuses on shipbuilding, which is integral to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
What worries many conservatives is that Biden will be weak on China as he tries to restore relations with the world’s second-biggest economy. However, I’m not entirely sure if a Biden-Harris ticket necessarily means that we’re all going to be staring down the barrel of Chinese AK-47s.
Even if we did, these Kalashnikovs will be made in China so there will be a good chance they won’t work.
Anyways, a President Biden will have incentives to keep Chinese aggression in check because an expansionary China will spell less dollars for our economy. Therefore, I like HII stock. It’s a great play among value stocks no matter who wins the White House.
Value Stocks to Buy: 3M (MMM)
In the years leading up to the pandemic, 3M developed a notoriety for being an increasingly irrelevant company. Now, in the digital age, it appeared that “analog” organizations such as 3M had no place in our society. How wrong we were. With the coronavirus, we quickly realized that not only did 3M specialize in personal protective equipment (PPE), it was one of the few manufacturers of N95 respirators.
Unsurprisingly, MMM stock bounced higher off its March doldrums and continued to trek upward — albeit, in a choppy manner — till around mid-September. Since then, shares have started to look shaky, perhaps due to improving Covid-19 cases. In other words, lower demand for N95s means that 3M is back to being boring and irrelevant.
But this narrative may be inaccurate. According to the Washington Post, researchers have discovered that economic crises experienced in youth can impact people for the rest of their lives. But what about once-in-a-century pandemics? Surely, that wouldn’t just affect young people but scar pretty much everyone that experienced them.
Because of the precedent, I’m not willing to give up on MMM stock. It’s possible, likely even, that our relationship with disease management and PPE has permanently changed. And that makes 3M one of the value stocks you should consider adding to your portfolio.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
I don’t want to keep going to the same well all the time. However, if there’s any holistic Covid winner among blue-chip value stocks, it’s Johnson & Johnson. First, you have to appreciate the PR backdrop. Well before the pandemic, JNJ stock was struggling under the weight of multiple damaging accusations.
This was a brand trusted by millions of people across the globe. Suddenly, it become one of the most egregious violators of human decency and business ethics. But under the context of the novel coronavirus, Johnson & Johnson has an opportunity to repair its image. As you know, it’s one of the top players in the Covid-19 vaccine race, having received approval for Phase 3 trials.
I’ve discussed this narrative before. But what I haven’t touched on yet is that JNJ stock will do well no matter what happens with the coronavirus vaccine. Obviously, you want the underlying company to deliver the goods as it will accelerate it brand rehabilitation. However, if it fails, Johnson & Johnson has myriad products under its vast corporate umbrella.
Unfortunately, you can’t say that with other vaccine contenders. For many, it’s win or go home. That said, JNJ doesn’t have that kind of pressure, making it a worthy idea among value stocks to buy.
Value Stocks to Buy: Robert Half International (RHI)
Supposedly, the economy is improving much quicker than expected. In August, the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%. While terrible, this was in stark contrast to some of the doom-and-gloom prognostications calling for 30% unemployment. Plus, with people working from home, American professionals have apparently adjusted to the new normal with aplomb.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the case for Robert Half International is busted. With many folks not willing to rock the boat with big career moves, RHI stock has stagnated since around mid-August. Presently, Robert Half trades at 16.5-times earnings, which is below its historical median of 22-times earnings.
Still, this dynamic may not last, which is why you should consider adding RHI to your short list of value stocks. First, many small businesses have shut their doors for good, destroying many opportunities. Second and perhaps more significantly, many companies won’t be able to sustain remote work because of the productivity losses.
Therefore, traditional staffing agencies should see a sizable boost in demand as we get out of the pandemic. But before that happens, you may want to dip your toes into RHI stock.
Kellogg Company (K)
During the worst of this crisis, the severity of the coronavirus became apparent to us at the grocery store. First came the rising prices and later, food supply shortages. At one point, the circumstances were so awful that animals raised for human consumption had to be destroyed.
It just seemed like an awful waste, leaving us all with a bad impression. Most notably, though, millennials are particularly sensitive toward issues such as the environment and sustainability. And that’s one of the key reasons why plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) has been a Covid winner.
Still, fake meat risks commoditization, which doesn’t favor specialists but rather, giant food stalwarts like Kellogg Company. Best known for its breakfast offerings, Kellogg recently jumped into the plant-based meat craze with Incogmeato, a brand under the MorningStar Farms subsidiary. Dare I say, Incogmeato is a much more creative name than Beyond Meat. Further, Kellogg’s ability to scale up production should make K stock a viable player if this phenomenon is no bubble.
But what really caught my eye was Incogmeato’s partnership with Disney (NYSE:DIS) to make Disney-themed chicken nuggets. In my opinion, this is evil genius at its most profitable. By cementing the Incogmeato brand with a new generation of future consumers, K stock will have a very bright future via fake meat.
Value Stocks to Buy: Olin Corporation (OLN)
I’m going to be very clear about Olin Corporation. According to GuruFocus.com, OLN stock pings as a possible value trap, not one of the viable value stocks to buy. Though shares are trading well below the implied fair value price, many analysts will assert that there’s a reason for this: Olin is a company to avoid, not to celebrate.
However, I disagree. Sure, the company’s chemical business isn’t exactly riveting stuff. But Olin is the owner of Winchester, the famous (or infamous) brand of firearms ammunition. And that business is in serious demand.
Understandably, people don’t want to discuss this point because it flies in the face of our supposed unity against the Covid crisis. Rather, the fact we’re buying guns absolutely speaks to the low level of social trust. In an interview with CGTN America, I described that when everybody else is buying guns, you’re incentivized to buy one yourself.
Clearly, OLN stock is the most cynical among the value stocks on this list. At the same time, it’s probably one of the most relevant. So stock up and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.