4 Stock Picks That Will Shine in 2018: Epoch Investment

William Priest, a respected investor who serves as the CEO of Epoch Investment Partners, Inc., has predicted that shares of U.S. companies Starbucks Corporation (SBUX), Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT), MetLife Inc. (MET) and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (MLM) will shine in 2018, according to Barron's

Applied Materials

Applied Materials is at the center of key tech trends, including artificial intelligence, he told Barron's. This stock, which surged nearly 60% last year, is up more than 12% year-to-date (YTD), according to Google Finance. Currently, its price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is 18.12. At the time of report, shares of Applied Materials were trading at $57.46, having closed at this level on January 22. However, they could rise to between $80 and $85 by 2020, stated Priest.


The investor emphasized that Starbucks, whose stock has been stagnant for the last few years, could benefit from corporate tax reform and growth in China, Barron's reported. He noted that the company planned to return approximately $15 billion to shareholders in the next few years through dividend payments and share repurchases. The company's shares, which rose less than 1% last year, have climbed roughly 6.9% this year, according to additional Google Finance. The company's P/E ratio is 31.11.

Martin Marietta Materials

Martin Marietta Materials could experience significant upside over the next few years, said Priest. He emphasized that the company's shares would benefit if lawmakers pass an infrastructure bill, but predicted that even without this legislation, they could reach $300 in the next few years. At the time of report, they were trading at $226.71, Google Finance data shows. This company's stock has risen roughly 2.6% this year, after climbing 0.6% in 2017. Currently, the company's P/E ratio is 33.07. 


MetLife will surge on rising cash flow and an ambitious stock payout program, Priest told Barron's. Over the next four months, the company plans to return close to 10% of its market capitalization to investors through stock repurchases and dividend payments, he noted. MetLife's operating cash flow should rise substantially after the company sold off its retail business. 

Shares of MetLife have enjoyed modest upside this year and last, climbing 4.7% in 2017 and 6.5% YTD, Google Finance figures show. Currently, the company's P/E ratio stands at 118.26. 

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