By: Katy Byron | Producer, Street Signs
With weeks until the next potential crisis in Washington, how can you ‘D.C.-proof’ your portfolio?
Big money managers Susan Fulton, president and founder of FBB Capital Partners, and Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington and a CNBC contributor, have picked out the top three stocks they feel will weather the next, or any, Washington gridlock storm.
Fulton, whose firm has $680 million in assets under management, likes stocks that “have the ability to grow their cash flow over time and pay back their shareholders through hefty dividend payments.” In general, she added, she also favors businesses that provide a “niche service or product and whose growth over time is non-dependent on whether or not the government is open or shut.”
Her top three stock picks that meet these parameters are Bristol-Myers Squibb, Yum! Brands and Emerson Electric. Fulton, her family and her firm do not own shares of these companies.
Regarding Bristol-Myers Squibb, she said the biopharmaceutical giant is a way to play on the aging of baby boomers and as a play on Obamacare. The company pays an annual dividend of $1.40 per share with the dividend yield of 2.83 percent, far more than S&P 500′s current dividend yield of 1.97 percent. As of midday Friday, shares are up 7 percent month-to-date, and have risen more than 50 percent this year.
She said Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, is poised for accelerated growth because its recent problems in China are largely behind the company.
Yum Brands pays a $1.48 dividend on shares and it has grown its dividend payments at a double-digit pace over the past five years. Fulton’s firm believes that trend will continue. Shares are down about 7 percent in October as of midday Friday, and up less than 1 percent year to date.
Fulton’s third pick, Emerson Electric, has a market cap of $46 billion. She said Emerson Electric’s dividend ($1.64) has increased by 7.5 percent per year over the past five years. Emerson Electric designs and manufactures electronic and electrical equipment, software and systems. The stock is up 32 percent over the past year, handily beating the S&P 500 which is up about 19 percent over that period.
Farr likes Chevron, Rockwell Collins, a communications and aviation electronics company, and Stryker a global medical device maker. His firm has over $900 million in assets under management. He and his family own shares of these stocks but his firm does not.
Farr said Chevron only gets 5 percent of its oil from the Middle East, allowing it to make money when oil prices rise but without the risk of losing too much production when there are conflicts in the Middle East. He believes Chevron deserves an “Exxon Mobil-like premium given the strength of its operation and improving returns on capital employed.” He also said the stock is a little cheaper than its peers, trading at 10 times the calendar year 2014 consensus estimate.
Rockwell Collins has its business split between government and commercial customers so it can lean on its private sector investments when there are problems with the government. Shares have posted a 12 percent annual earnings-per-share growth over the past year, and the 1.8 percent dividend yield also makes it an attractive stock, Farr said. Its shares have nearly doubled in the past five years and are up more than 1 percent this month. The company’s trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is approximately 16.
Lastly, Stryker, which makes implantable devices for things like hips, knees and spines, has a solid record generating above average and less volatile sales and earnings growth, Farr said. Stryker shares are up 33 percent this year and 8 percent this month. “An improving global economy, an aging population, increased penetration into faster growing emerging markets, continued efforts to improve efficiency, targeted acquisitions and intelligent capital allocation should help Stryker hit this earnings target,” Farr said.