Tags: 2013 | winners | Moody’s | Ford

Experts: Ford, Comcast, Moody’s Good 2013 Stock Picks

Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 08:04 AM

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Looking for some good stock picks for 2013? Five companies in particular stand out, according to experts polled by Forbes.

Take Moody’s, the ratings agency whose share price took a hit in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis after debt the company assigned top-notch AAA ratings turned out to be toxic, backed by shoddy mortgage loans.

Today, the company’s stock is attractively priced, and considering how banks around the world are keeping purse strings tight, businesses looking to finance themselves will sell debt, which Moody’s will be more than happy to rate.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

“Moody’s is a company that is certainly not without its controversies,” says Chuck Akre of the $1.2 billion Akre Focus Fund, according to Fortune.

“You can’t go to the debt market without one of their ratings, period,” Akre notes, adding that Moody’s has “fabulous pricing power,” which is why it generates free-cash-flow margins of nearly 30 percent.

Financials hold investment opportunities as well.

Take U.S. Bancorp.

Instead of running a business model based on trading and investment banking, U.S. Bancorp makes money the refreshingly old-fashioned way by collecting deposits, issuing loans and managing wealth, Tim Hartch of the $3.5 billion BBH Core Select tells Fortune.

“If the regulators could have their wish,” Hartch says, “all banks would look like U.S. Bancorp.”

The bank has “a nice earnings stream that doesn’t require a significant amount of capital,” he explains, adding that of all big U.S. commercial banks, U.S. Bancorp reaps the highest return on equity and the highest return on assets.

Meanwhile, automobile giant Ford, which rolled through the recession without seeking a bailout, should rev up nice returns for investors in 2013 as well.

The automobile industry will sell 14 million cars in 2012, an increase from the lows of 2009, Fortune reports.

And Ford will be there to meet that rising demand, which bodes well for the company whose shares have taken past jabs due to exposure to Europe.

“I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” says Michael Levine of the $3.4 billion Oppenheimer Equity Income Fund.

“The age of the fleet is at an all-time high; there are a lot of older cars out there that need to be replaced.”

Add to that, a housing recovery will fuel demand for a Ford specialty: the pickup truck.

Investors looking for telecommunications investment opportunities should tune into Comcast, which is poised for growth, notes Susan Kempler of TIAA-CREF’s $3 billion Growth and Income Fund.

In 2011, Comcast took control of a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal, a nice revenue stream that swelled by 32 percent in the third quarter of this year thanks to ad spending during the Olympics and presidential campaigns, Fortune adds.

Comcast will take full control of NBCUniversal in 2017, while the company’s cable business, which accounts for 63 percent of revenue, has trimmed back on infrastructure spending, freeing up $6 billion in cash to pay dividends, conduct buybacks and fund research and development projects.

“The business isn’t just collecting monthly cable bills anymore,” says Kempler, according to Fortune.

“They’re powered by [cable and Internet] technology that makes it better than its peers.”

Lastly, consumer products will deserve investors’ attention as well, and Unilever should take top consideration despite the company’s European headquarters.

Sales take place globally, not just in the crisis-weary eurozone, with more than half of company sales taking place in the developing world, where business has risen 12 percent in 2012.

“Unilever has been in India for well over 70 years,” notes Stuart Reeve of the $1.2 billion BlackRock Global Dividend Income Fund.

Many businesses are just starting to set up supply chains and expand in the developing world, where Unilever is humming along.

“They’re well positioned to get their products in front of consumers without employing extra costs,” said Reeve.

Meanwhile, Unilever represents a good buy among investors looking for dividend stocks.

The company reports a 14 percent operating margin, which enables it to channel 50 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders. The company has consistently hiked dividend rates by 6 percent to 8 percent a year over the past several years.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

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