It’s been a topsy-turvy year for Wall Street, with the benchmark S&P 500 setting records for the fastest bear market decline in history, as well as the quickest rebound to fresh highs.
Growth and value have also diverged remarkably this year. Growth stocks in the tech sector have been virtually unstoppable, whereas value stocks in most sectors and industries have struggled. The thing is, value stocks have a history of outperforming during periods of economic expansion, and it looks as if a new bull market is just getting started.
With valuations depressed, the following five turnaround stocks are now screaming buys.
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Despite what you might think, pharmacy chains are big-money business, and Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) looks like one heck of a steal at a little north of 7 times Wall Street’s profit consensus for 2021.
Though Walgreens has been hurt by slower foot traffic into its stores from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s not as if the company’s operating model has been disrupted. An aging America is going to require more maintenance therapies, which means plenty of organic growth opportunity for the company’s higher-margin pharmacy segment.
Walgreens is also making hefty investments in digitization and convenience. It’s prioritizing its direct-to-consumer online sales, beefing up the items that can be ordered online and picked up at its drive-thru locations, and partnering with VillageMD to create up to 700 full-service medical clinics located at its stores. These full-service centers will work hand in hand with Walgreens’ pharmacy segment to draw in customers and engage people at the local level.
One last thing: Walgreens is a Dividend Aristocrat. It’s raised its base annual payout for 44 consecutive years, meaning its 5.1% yield is rock-solid.
Bank stocks aren’t exactly the sexiest investments on Wall Street right now. But you’re going to be kicking yourself in five to 10 years if you let Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) get away. Investors can currently buy into the money-center bank for 64% of its book value. For some context here, that’s Wells Fargo’s lowest price-to-book valuation (save for one week during the height of the Great Recession) in at least three decades.
While the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep its federal funds rate at or near a record-tying low will inhibit Wells Fargo’s interest income-earning potential over the next two years, the company is making strides elsewhere. For example, digital engagement trends are improving. More customers banking online or with their mobile devices will lead to lower transaction costs.
Wells Fargo also has a knack for attracting an affluent clientele. These well-to-do clients tend not to adjust their spending habits during minor economic contractions, and they’re more likely to take advantage of multiple financial service products offered by Wells Fargo, such as mortgage servicing, personal loans, and wealth management. It’s these wealthier clients that have helped Wells Fargo deliver superior return on assets for a long time.
Another turnaround stock in desperate need of attention is tobacco giant Altria Group (NYSE:MO). Altria, the U.S.-based company behind the premium Marlboro cigarette brand, is currently valued at less than 9 times Wall Street’s consensus profit forecast for 2021, and is paying out a mouthwatering 8.5% dividend yield.
Even though tobacco stocks have faced significant challenges from U.S. health regulators in recent years, Altria Group still has a handful of catalysts moving forward. For one, tobacco companies hold exceptional pricing power on their products. Nicotine is an addictive chemical, and Altria is fully aware that regular inflation-topping price hikes can be passed along without chasing away their core customers.
Altria has also been investing in tobacco alternatives. It took a $1.8 billion equity stake in Canadian licensed cannabis producer Cronos Group last year, with the expectation that the duo will eventually collaborate to develop a line of cannabis-infused vape products for the North American market.
Lastly, Altria has aggressively repurchased its stock over the past decade. Share repurchases tend to positively impact earnings per share.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Despite being shrouded in controversy over the past three years, brand-name and generic-drug developer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:TEVA) looks ripe for the picking at less than 4 times next year’s consensus profit forecast.
Teva has faced all sorts of legal issues, from its role in the opioid crisis to its potential price-fixing of generic drugs. But it also has turnaround specialist Kare Schultz as its CEO. Since taking the helm three years ago, Schultz has reduced Teva’s net debt by almost $10 billion and lopped off about $3 billion in annual operating expenses. There’s still work to be done on Teva’s balance sheet, but the company has a considerably brighter future as a result of Schultz’s leadership.
Teva, like Walgreens, will also benefit from an aging America. With the list prices of brand-name drugs continuing to rise, there’s likely to be an even greater push to generic substitutes in the years that lie ahead. Since generics are volume-driven, the aging of boomers appears to be a multidecade organic growth catalyst for Teva.
Finally, investors should consider buying into one of the most boring stocks imaginable: telecom and content services provider AT&T (NYSE:T). Investors choosing to buy AT&T would get their shares at less than 9 times Wall Street’s consensus profit forecast for 2021, and would net a 7.2% dividend yield. AT&T is also a Dividend Aristocrat, making this high-yield payout especially safe.
Although AT&T’s heyday has long since passed, it still has ample growth catalysts. For example, the ongoing rollout of 5G wireless infrastructure should lead to a steady enterprise and retail device upgrade cycle. Since AT&T generates its juiciest margins from the data portion of its wireless segment, cash flow should pick up nicely within the next one or two years.
Furthermore, AT&T recently launched its HBO Max streaming service toward the end of May. In its first month, it picked up north of 4 million subscribers, placing the combined HBO and HBO Max subscriber count at 36.3 million. Management believes this figure can more than double to 80 million by 2025, which would more than offset the cord-cutting losses associated with subsidiary DIRECTV.
With bond rates struggling to outpace inflation, AT&T’s ultrasafe 7%-plus yield is more than enough reason to hop on board.