Monday June 04, 2012
by Chuck Carlson, editor DRIP Investor
One great thing about investing in dividend reinvestment plans is that you can turn a little into a lot. Indeed, the modest minimums for most plans allow virtually any investor to build a diversified portfolio of quality stocks regardless of the size of his or her pocketbook.
The following are reviews of three quality stocks offering solid long-term potential. They allow any investor to make even their initial purchase of stock directly from the company.
Best of all, the initial minimum for each of the stocks is just $100, making it easy for any investor to build a “mini” three-stock portfolio with just $300.
CVS Caremark (CVS) is the largest integrated pharmacy healthcare provider in the United States. The company operates more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores.
Approximately 75% of the U.S. population lives within three miles of a CVS pharmacy. The ﬁrm ﬁlls or manages more than one billion prescriptions annually.
CVS is also one of the country’s largest pharmacy beneﬁts managers (PBMs) serving more than 60 million plan members. The ﬁrm also tops the market for retail-based medical centers via its roughly 600 MinuteClinic locations.
The firm is coming off a strong ﬁrst quarter. Revenues rose nearly 20% to a record $30.8 billion. Pharmacy services were up 32%. Per-share earnings rose 14% to $0.65 per share, $0.02 above the consensus estimate.
It has raised its earnings guidance for full year 2012 to $3.23 to $3.33 per share. The stock trades at 14 times the low-end guidance, a reasonable valuation given the ﬁrm’s growth of late.
CVS has been beneﬁting at the expense of its chief competitor, Walgreen, which has been hurt by its failure to renew a deal with large pharmacy beneﬁts manager Express Scripts.
Should Walgreen and Express Scripts eventually cut a deal, it could impact CVS. Still, has remained resilient during the recent market downturn and its growth prospects are solid.
Eaton (ETN) is a global technology leader in electrical components, systems, and services for power quality, distribution, and control.
Eaton put up solid numbers in the first quarter. Per-share profits jumped 10% to $0.92, beating the consensus estimate by $0.02 per share. The company set ﬁrst-quarter records in sales, segment operating profit margins, and earnings per share.
The company expects a record year for 2012 overall, with revenue growing more than 7% and operating earnings per share up 14%. The company recently raised its per-share earnings guidance $0.10 to between $4.30 and $4.70 for 2012.
Eaton stock offers a good value at just 10 times the low-end estimate of $4.30 per share. Enhancing appeal is the yield of 3.6%.
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) is the world’s leading provider of diagnostic testing, information, and services ranging from routine blood tests to complex, gene-based, and molecular testing.
The ﬁrm has special expertise in the cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and neurology areas. The company serves half of the physicians and hospitals in the U.S.
While health-care-related stocks have had their ups and downs, Quest represents a consistent play in the group. The ﬁrm has beaten analysts’ earnings estimates in each of the last three quarters.
Quest demonstrated conﬁdence in its future by boosting its dividend 70% to a quarterly rate of $0.17 per share. Even at the higher dividend rate the company’s payout ratio (the percentage of proﬁ ts paid out in dividends) is just 15%, leaving plenty of room for future dividend hikes.
Learn more about this financial newsletter at Chuck Carlson's DRIP Investor.