The S&P 500 stock index has famously averaged a return of just under 10% over the past near-century -- a great rate in an economy where the average bank account is still paying just 0.05%!
Of course, even 10% is just the average. Some stocks go up more than that, some go up less. Some years are better for stock returns, some are worse. So what can you do you increase your odds of getting a great return on your stock investment?
I've got one word for you: Dividends.
Buy a stock with a great dividend yield -- significantly higher than what the average S&P stock pays -- and you've gone a long way towards ensuring that your total profits in a given year are at least average, and maybe significantly above average.
With this goal in mind, we've employed the Stock Screener at TipRanks to dig up for us a few likely candidates -- stocks paying generous dividend yields of 5% or better, and stocks scoring a "strong buy" rating from Wall Street analysts to boot.
First up is oil and natural gas pipeline operator Enterprise Products Partners, and of the three this one offers income investors the biggest dividend yield: 6.8%. EPD is also one of the biggest players in its industry, owning and operating pipelines for the transport of oil, gas, and petrochemicals stretching some 49,000 miles in combined length, with storage and processing facilities besides.
Little wonder that Evercore ISI analyst Dan Walk calls EPD a "bellwether" for the midstream energy industry. In a recent research note, Walk hailed EPD's earnings beat in its recent Q3 earnings announcement, arguing that "EPD's scale and integration across the value chains of all three hydrocarbon streams provide unmatched flexibility to adapt to an ever-shifting environment." The analyst was particularly impressed by EPD's decision to expand its pipelines, adding potentially as much as almost 1 billion barrels per day in transportation capacity for the business.
As a result, Walk reiterated an Outperform rating on EPD stock along with a $32 price target, which implies about 25% upside from current levels.
Wolfe Research analyst Keith Stanley was also enthusiastic, noting that EPD is forging "full speed ahead" with its "superior integrated, demand-driven growth platform," even as rivals have "pulled back." Echoing Walk's sentiment, Stanley rates the stock an Outperfom, while maintaining a $33 price target.
Overall, the Street sentiment on EPD stock is similarly positive, with three out of three analysts who have issued ratings on the stock in the last three months rating the stock "buy." With an average price target of $33.33, these analysts see 29% upside in the stock over the next 12 months -- before counting the dividend.
Farther up the oil industry food chain we find French oil giant Total, a true giant of the industry with annual revenues approaching $180 billion. Total's 5.3% dividend yield -- more than twice as generous as the average dividend on the S&P 500 -- is no slouch either.
In a recent research note, Cowen analyst Jason Gabelman predicted that Total's production growth "should exceed peers significantly over the next three years... with materially better cash margins... and rising FCF." The analyst noted that in Q3, Total "beat" on earnings and generated $6.6 billion in free cash flow as well -- $1.2 billion more than Street estimates had predicted -- even as the company stood fast to its promises to invest in capital spending and continue buying back shares.
Gabelman forecast that by the time December 31 rolls around, Total will have grown its full-year earnings 8% in comparison to last year, and that the company is on track to do nearly as well in 2020, growing earnings a further 7%. Although valued at 15.2 times trailing earnings today, Gabelman believes these numbers put the stock squarely in "buy" territory at a current-year P/E ratio of 12.4 and a forward P/E ratio of just 11.6.
Similarly, 10 out of 10 analyst ratings published on Total in the last couple of months have rated Total stock "buy." On average, analysts see Total shares climbed 22% over the next year, to an average target price of $66.12 -- again, before factoring in the 5.3% dividend.
Taking a sharp right-hand turn out of the oil patch here at the end, we turn our attention now to Outfront Media, whose stock in trade is... billboards, as well as ads posted on mass transit and other "mobile" advertising assets. And if billboards don't sound particularly sexy to you, then perhaps this fact will: Outfront Media pays its shareholders a monster 5.8% dividend yield -- nearly triple the yield on the S&P 500.
Commenting on Outfront's earnings results earlier this month, Wolfe Research analyst Marci Ryvicker was impressed at the company's ability to grow revenues by double digits year over year in TRADITIONAL MEDIA (Her emphasis, not ours). Q3 sales came in 11.7% higher than in the year-ago quarter, led by revenues from transit advertising, up 20%.
Admittedly, next quarter looks to be a bit slower on "toughening comps." Nevertheless, Ryvicker notes that if management succeeds in growing revenues by mid-to-high-single digits, as it's promised to do, it's probably going to eclipse Street predictions for 5.4%. growth.
Analysts are starting to warm to this story, though, with four out of five polled in the last three months rating Outfront stock a "buy." Consensus targets call for the stock to rise 28.2% over the next 12 months to $32.25 per share -- but Wolfe's Ryvicker is even more optimistic than that. Wowed by the company's ability to grow traditional media sales in a digital world, she's set a price target of $36 -- 43% more than the stock is worth today.
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