As the market continues to contend with persistent inflation, higher interest rates and the specter of a 2023 recession, stocks of even well-established companies remain at depressed prices. In other words, there are still plenty of cheap blue-chip stocks out there, many of which make for solid long-term buys.
Blue-chips make for great holdings in all markets, but if you purchase them during bear markets, the benefit can be two-fold. How so? For starters, due to the resilient nature of their underlying businesses, these types of stocks tend to be less volatile. They can serve as “safe harbors” during times of volatility.
At the same time, whenever the bull market returns, these names are not likely to underperform. In fact, they can recover fast and perform better due to their superior fundamentals.
With all this in mind, now’s the time to scoop up the cream of the crop among cheap blue-chip stocks. Each of these seven fit the bill.
Cheap Blue-Chip Stocks: Apple (AAPL)
When it comes to whether Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is cheap, opinions vary. To some investors, shares in the tech giant are a steal, as they trade for around 21 times earnings. That’s a much lower multiple than the stock sported during the pandemic of about 30 times to 35 times earnings.
Other investors, however, will argue it’s arbitrary to compare today’s AAPL stock valuation to levels it traded at before the downturn. Mostly, that’s because interest rates are no longer near zero and Apple’s earnings growth has decelerated.
In the near-term, the latter side may be correct, but long-term, those who believe it’s cheap today could prevail. Interest rates are likely to come down once inflation cools. This will provide a boost to AAPL’s valuation. Add in an expected re-acceleration of earnings growth starting next fiscal year, and this mega-cap tech stock may be poised to make a major recovery.
Bank of America (BAC)
Knocked lower in 2022, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is now back to trading around its pre-pandemic stock price. Recession fears have investors shunning financial stocks across the board, including major institutions such as this money center bank.
However, at just 10.9 times earnings, the impact of a recession may already be baked into the BAC stock valuation. From here, until the economic environment improves, shares could trade sideways, all while providing investors steady gains via BAC’s 22 cent per quarter dividend with a 2.58% forward yield.
Once market conditions improve, Bank of America shares could come back in a big way, namely thanks to the massive increase in interest rates. According to analyst forecasts, earnings could be as high as $4.24 per share by 2024. That may be enough to get BAC, one of the top cheap blue-chip stocks, back to its all-time high of more than $50 per share.
Cheap Blue-Chip Stocks: Meta Platforms (META)
I know what you’re thinking. Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META), parent company of Facebook, may appear undervalued on a stock screener, but isn’t it a value trap? Yes — so far, shares in this FAANG component, which trades at a dirt-cheap 12.3 times earnings, have been a bad bet for bottom-fishers.
Investors who bought META stock on the belief it was cheap have had the unpleasant experience of seeing it become considerably cheaper over time. Yet while those who bought the dip too early have been burned, two factors could help spark a comeback for shares.
As CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision continues to flounder, he may finally decide to walk back his ambitious plans. This would clear up a lot of the uncertainty surrounding META stock. As InvestorPlace’s Omor Ibne Ehsan argued last month, an ad market rebound could also fuel a rebound for META.
Shares in pharma giant Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) have been bouncing back over the past few months thanks to developments both related and unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although shares have slightly pulled back more recently, this stock could continue to bounce back.
Why? As Louis Navellier argued back in November, PFE stock has three factors on its side that make it a great long-term investment. For one, PFE’s valuation is lower than that of its peers. In time, as the market becomes more confident in its post-Covid prospects, shares could climb back to a multiple in-line with the sector.
This could arrive once earnings growth returns. New drugs from its pipeline could also help reverse earnings declines caused by waning sales of its Covid-19 vaccine and treatment. With a moderately high dividend with a 3.2% forward yield to boot, the ingredients are in place to heal PFE stock.
Cheap Blue-Chip Stocks: UnitedHealth (UNH)
Like Apple, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) is one of the pricier cheap blue-chip stocks. However, that’s not a reason to stay away. In a recession-resistant industry and projected to continue steadily growing its earnings, this health care services powerhouse is likely to sustain its current valuation of 24.5 times earnings.
UNH stock may not be in the running to experience a bump-up in its forward valuation. That said, as earnings continue to grow at a double-digit clip, shares could in turn continue to climb in tandem with this earnings growth.
Over a long timeframe, UNH could also become known as much for its dividends as it is for its status as a blue-chip growth stock. UnitedHealth Group’s current forward dividend yield is only 1.3%, yet this payout has grown thirteen years in a row. Over the past five years, it has increased the dividend by an average of 17.4%.
Verizon Communications (VZ)
Admittedly, despite its blue-chip status, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) has not held up well over the past year. Shares in the telecom services provider are down around 21% since last January. Between estimates calling for negative earnings growth, plus the market’s overall bearishness for this sector, this isn’t a surprise.
Nevertheless, VZ stock could be an “it’s all uphill from here” situation. Verizon stock is heavily discounted, trading for just 9.1 times earnings and starting to climb higher thanks to upbeat statements regarding consumer retention from CEO Hans Vestberg.
Other factors, such as the 5G rollout, may enable the company to beat expectations in the quarters ahead. This may help VZ stay in recovery mode. It’s also worth mentioning Verizon continues to be a great high-yield dividend stock. VZ’s current yield is 6.3%, and the company has an eighteen-year track record of increasing this payout.
Cheap Blue-Chip Stocks: ExxonMobil (XOM)
With crude oil prices back down to the $70s per barrel versus as much as $126 per barrel last year, is the party over for ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)? Not so fast. The epic recovery in energy prices in 2021 and 2022 may have helped to fuel XOM’s comeback, yet there’s still plenty working in this oil stock’s favor.
Per economic forecasts, tight supply could help counter decreased demand, which may keep crude oil prices at or above current levels. This may limit an earnings decline for the company. In addition to this, cost-reduction efforts and a move into renewable energy also stand to give XOM stock a continued lift.
Don’t forget return-of-capital efforts such as share repurchases and the stock’s 3.3% dividend will also enhance long-term total returns. All of this makes this cheap blue-chip trading for 9 times earnings worthy of a buy.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.