We’re now just past the halfway mark of the year, which means businesses will soon be announcing second-quarter 2018 operating results. But investors don’t necessarily have to wait for management teams to hop on quarterly earnings conference calls to know if a stock is a buy this July.
Sometimes a high-yield stock gets punished without good reason, Sometimes an industry leader is quietly positioning itself to exploit a market rebound, and sometimes it’s just tough to pass up a global energy leader boasting a 6% dividend yield while it transitions to renewable energy fits that bill. Here’s why they’re my top stocks to buy in July.
Top Undervalued Stocks To Watch Right Now: International Paper Company(IP)
Entering 2018, International Paper stock had kept pace with the total returns of the S&P 500 over the previous three years. But shares are down 11% year to date just past the halfway mark. That sets up an intriguing opportunity for long-term investors with an appetite for dividends, as the stock currently yields 3.6%. Management has big plans for increasing that over time.
As one of the leading manufacturers of cardboard and with a stable of low-cost production facilities in North America, International Paper has expertly exploited the growing trend of online shopping in the last decade. In the last five years, the business has averaged $1.9 billion in free cash flow. Management intends to deploy 40% to 50% of that in efforts to create shareholder value, either through share buybacks or dividend increases (or lately, both).
While a massive deal to acquire peer Smurfit Kappa was abandoned in early June, there are still other long-term growth opportunities for investors to look forward to. For instance, International Paper owns part of a joint venture in Russia called Ilim, which just delivered record equity earnings of $92 million in the first quarter of 2018. That compares to $183 million in all of last year. Throw in continued portfolio optimization efforts, together with low-cost production, and the company is poised to keep making progress on its near- and short-term goals while rewarding investors with a hefty dividend.
Top Undervalued Stocks To Watch Right Now: Weight Watchers International Inc(WTW)
Weight Watchers stock has rallied tremendously in the last few years. However, trading at a forward price to earnings ratio of 27, WTW stock is still priced at a reasonably level.
The company reported significantly better than expected first-quarter results, citing strong recruitment trends. Its membership reached a record 4.6 million, and its total paid weeks jumped 27% year-over-year last quarter. Furthermore, the company predicted that its overall revenue would surge almost 20% in fiscal 2018.
A number of analysts were very enthusiastic about the outlook for Weight Watchers in the wake of the results.
For example, SunTrust analyst Michael Swartz started coverage of WTW stock with a $90 price target and a “buy” rating on May 15. According to the analyst, who was upbeat about the company’s strategy, Weight Watcher’s products are “one of the first stops” for someone considering a structured weight loss program, The Fly reported.
Also starting Weight Watchers stock with a “buy” rating was Bank of America’s Olivia Tong. The analyst, who placed a $95 price target on Weight Watchers stock, wrote that the company “has a proven operational model and sustainable momentum,” The Fly noted.
Finally, Craig-Hallum’s Alex Fuhrman expects the company’s summer ads to cause its recruiting trends to accelerate, The Fly noted. He kept a $120 price target and a “buy” rating on Weight Watchers stock.
WTW has excelled at recruiting well-known, highly respected celebrities to endorse its products. Of course, the company has convinced Oprah Winfrey to invest in Weight Watchers stock and tout its products in ads. More recently, the company signed up music producer DJ Khaled and actor Kevin Smith in an effort to appeal to more young people and males.
Judging by Weight Watcher’s first-quarter results, that effort seems to be bearing fruit.
Top Undervalued Stocks To Watch Right Now: Aphria Inc. (APHQF)
Aphria is one of the Canadian marijuana stocks that has experienced a miserable year so far. Its stock is currently down 39% since the beginning of 2018 — and that reflects improvement over the last couple of months.
However, most of the same catalysts for Canopy Growth also apply to Aphria. The company should be a big winner from recreational marijuana legalization in Canada. Aphria is on pace to produce 225,000 kilograms of cannabis annually by early 2019. The company also has a solid retail distribution network thanks to its recent deal with Southern Glazer’s, the largest wine and spirits distributor in North America.
Like Canopy Growth, Aphria has targeted the global medical marijuana market. If U.S. laws change to prevent interference with states that have legalized marijuana, Aphria should be in great shape to jump into the U.S. market because of its relationship with Liberty Health Sciences. It’s even possible that Aphria could join Canopy by moving into the cannabis-infused beverage business: Reports surfaced recently that Molson Coors Brewing is in discussions with Aphria and three other Canadian marijuana growers about a potential deal.