According to Bespoke Investment Group, five stocks in the Dow 30 were oversold as of August 13. Although I'm not a fan of giant-cap stocks, let's examine each of the companies to see if any of them provide a good entry point for a long-term hold. These selections are in ascending order from worst to best.
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Best Bets In The Dow 30
|Company||% Below 52-Week High||% Below 5-Year High|
|Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)||33%||76%|
|Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO)||20%||35%|
|Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)||7%||20%|
Although it would be easy to rank Hewlett-Packard as the worst potential long-term buy because of its obvious lack of credible leadership, it's not my main reason. Instead, Hewlett-Packard has spent the better part of a decade, including the last five with Mark Hurd in charge, growing the top-line through acquisitions and the bottom-line through severe cost-cutting, throwing internal growth, once a hallmark of the tech pioneer, out the window.
In addition, it appears its board is ready to make a quick hiring decision as it did when it fired Carly Fiorina in 2005. If the HP team is as strong as interim CEO Cathie Lesjak insists it is, they should be in no hurry to make a move, especially given its track record hiring CEOs.
Procter & Gamble
Sitting 7% below its 52-week high, the consumer goods champion is definitely having the best year-to-date of the group. It's likely why Berkshire Hathaway has sold 12% of its holdings in the first six months of 2010. Obviously, Warren Buffett feels the money is better off somewhere else, and it's hard to argue that. It's a great company and if price weren't an issue, it would rank higher.
Bank of America
This is the toughest of the five selections. On the one hand, the bank is in the midst of selling $500 billion, or 21% of its total assets, making it difficult to know what the bank will look like once the potential sale of many of its assets is completed. However, the stock is trading way off its $55 all-time high. Consider this a speculative buy. The price is right but there's a lot that needs to be answered about the company's future.
CiscoMicrosoft (Nasdaq:MSFT)? Although more expensive than Intel, its cash position is an enviable one with over $7 a share. Investment manager Chuck Carnevale suggests Cisco is trading at fair value for the first time since 1997.
Although its debt levels are a concern, one look at its cash calms any negative thoughts, especially when you consider it's using this cash to buy back stock and hire additional employees. Both point to a management bullish about the future.
Hedge fund manager Tim Seymour is a fan of the chipmaker, suggesting PC sales are nowhere near peaking and with 80% market share, is a great company to own. Its stock currently trades at 11.3 times earnings, much less than its historical norm of 18 or 19 times and an enterprise value just five times EBITDA.
This compares to 9.7 times EBITDA for Analog Devices (NYSE:ADI), its largest peer by market cap. Sitting on $18 billion in cash and short term investments, Intel is the winner over Cisco in a photo finish. If I were a technology hound, I'd own both.
The Bottom Line
The future direction of the markets remains uncertain. However, some of America's largest companies currently provide real buying opportunities, especially Intel and Cisco.
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