Market researchers at RBC Capital, led by Lori Calvasina, head of the bank’s US Equity Strategy, have analyzed current conditions, comparing them to past recessions, and see the coming downturn as both short and mild. They based their conclusions on the behavior of the S&P 500 during downturns since 1937.
Getting into specifics, Calvasina’s team says of current conditions, “Our new YE 2020 S&P 500 price target of 2,750 implies a 15% drop for the full year, as well as a 15% rebound from recent levels… we continue to believe that the bulk of the stock market impact from the coronavirus will be felt early in the year, with the bulk of the economic impact coming in the middle of the year…”
Looking ahead, the RBC team believes that the rebound will be longer-lasting than the drop. They write, “For 2021, we assume that the economic recovery will continue into the new year, and we have also modeled a single Fed rate hike in 2Q21, a modest increase in the 10-year yield, a slight rebound in oil prices, modest margin expansion, and the return of share buybacks to a pace slightly below that of 4Q19.”
Turning from the macro view, RBC’s stock analysts have pinpointed high-yield dividend stocks with even higher upside potential – just the sort of opportunity that should attract return-minded investors in preparation for a market turnaround. Not all high returns are created equal, however, and RBC sees two of these as Buy-side, while leaving one as a Hold. We’ve used TipRanks database to pull the details on RBC’s picks. Let’s dive in.
Enterprise Products Partners (EPD)
RBC’s first Buy-rating goes to an oil and gas midstream company. Enterprise controls and operates over 50,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines, as well as facilities for the storage of 160 million barrels of oil and 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and shipping terminals on the Texas Gulf Coast. These are valuable assets, as they are essential for moving fuel into the economy, and they retain their worth no matter what the economic conditions – after all, there is always a need for fuel.
Enterprise came into the current market downturn on a sound note, having reported better than expected Q4 earnings and revenues in the first week of February. The company showed 54 cents EPS on total quarterly revenue of $8.01 billion. Both numbers were up sequentially from Q3.
RBC focused on dividend stocks, and EPD measures up. The company’s 44.5-cent quarterly payment annualizes to $1.78, and it has an 11-year history of keeping up reliable payments. The dividend has been increased gradually over the past three years, and the payment ratio of 82% indicates that there is still room available for further increases. And at 12.2%, the yield is simply stellar.
In his comments on the stock, Schultz wrote, “We like EPD for the expansive asset footprint that is ideally situated to benefit on the key downstream export markets across multiple product streams. We also see growing FCF in 2019 as EPD dials back growth capex and puts in service new processing, frac, and export capacity. EPD remains a core holding, in our view.” (To watch Schultz’s track record, click here)
5-star RBC analyst TJ Schultz Schultz backed his Buy rating with a $29 price target, implying an impressive upside of 125% for the coming year.
EPS stock has a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on 10 recent reviews. These include 9 Buy-side against a single Hold – a clear indication of collective confidence in the stock. EPS is selling for a discount price, $14.56, and the average price target of $26.89 suggests an upside potential of 85%. (See EPD stock analysis on TipRanks)
Pembina Pipeline (PBA)
Sticking with the oil and gas midstream business, RBC switched its focus north to Canada. Pembina is a major player in Western Canada midstreaming, with gas processing plants and pipelines throughout the Alberta-British Columbia oil and gas production regions. Pembina’s facilities and pipelines gather fuel and transport it across the border, through the Bakken field in the US state of North Dakota, and onward to export points on the Great Lakes.
Declining energy costs on the open markets and long transit pathways put pressure on Pembina’s margins in recent months. The company reflected that in its Q4 earnings, which missed expectations and were down from year-over-year. In US currency, EPS came in at 16 cents against the 42 cents forecast. Revenue did better, growing yoy from $1.31 billion to $1.33 billion – although it did miss the estimates by 3.25%.
PBA uses its earnings to keep up the dividend payment. The company has raised the payment twice in the last three years, and currently pays out 16 cents per share monthly. It’s uncommon for a company to pay out a dividend that frequently, but PBA manages it. The payments annualize to $1.88 (based on the last 12), and give a yield of 11.7%. Even better for investors, PBA has a four-year history increasing the payout. The next payment is due to be paid on March 24.
Covering Pembina for RBC, 5-star analyst Robert Kwan describes this stock as “…disproportionately hit versus its peers based on concerns about counterparty exposure as well as Pembina’s own credit rating…” On the subject of PBA’s prospects, Kwan adds, “We applaud the company for taking decisive and tangible steps in the face of considerable market uncertainty. While the stock is under pressure, we have confidence in its long-term value and recommend that patient, long-term focused investors buy the stock while clipping a sizable dividend yield and waiting for the potential upside to materialize.”
In line with his comments, Kwan sets a price target on PBA of C$26, equating to USD$18 US at today’s exchange rate. This implies an upside for the stock of 18%. (To watch Kwan’s track record, click here)
Pembina’s Strong Buy analyst consensus rating is unanimous, based on 12 recent Buy-side reviews. The stock is currently selling for C$23.13, or US$16.09, and the average price target of C$50.72 (US$35.28) suggests a strong 126% upside potential in the coming 12 months. (See Pembina stock analysis on TipRanks)
L Brands, Inc. (LB)
Last on the list RBC’s Hold call, L Brands. A rebranding of The Limited, this Ohio-based company has long owned well-known shopping mall staples Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. In a move made public last month, L Brands will be selling 55% of Victoria’s Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners, and that company CEO Leslie Wexner will step down after completion of the sale. The move will leave Bath & Body Works as the company’s only wholly owned brand, although it will retain a 45% interest in Victoria’s Secret.
The fourth quarter, coming in the holiday shopping season, is L Brands’ strongest, and Q4 2019 was no exception. The company reported $1.88 in EPS, beating the forecast by 1%. Revenue also beat estimates, by a minimal 0.05%, and came in at $4.71 billion. The top line was down 2.8% year-over-year, however; an ominous sign entering Q1 2020. The current quarter has seen mall businesses buffeted by quarantines and social distancing restrictions, and retail is down across the board. LB forecasts a Q1 net loss of 5 cents per share when it reports in May.
The company has been careful to maintain its dividend through these difficult times, paying out 30 cents per quarter. The annualized rate, $1.20, gives an impressive yield of 12.3%, and the payout ratio of 64% indicates that, at current income levels, the dividend is sustainable.
RBC, however, wants to sit this one out, despite the high-yield dividend. The company is in the midst of a divestiture, and facing severe headwinds along with the rest of the retail sector. In comments on the stock, analyst Kate Fitzsimons says, “While we agree the math on a standalone BBW suggests value unlock, we remain comfortable on the sidelines as the next leg up in LB shares is likely to take time, with the bears focusing on mall exposure and sustainability of 20%+ margins, and the bulls on BBW’s superior profitability and cash flows.”
While she will wait to see if who is right, the bears or the bulls, on this one, Fitzsimons did ‘tweak’ her price target, raising it to $24 and suggesting an upside of 145%. That would imply she’s with the Bulls – but for now, she calls this one a Hold. (To watch Fitzsimons’ track record, click here)
L Brands gets a Moderate Buy from the analyst consensus, reflecting Wall Street’s divided opinion on the stock. The rating is based on 24 reviews, including 8 Buys, 14 Holds, and 2 Sells. Shares are selling for a low $9.78, and the average price target of $27 reflects the possible rewards of a risky stock, in a 176% upside potential. (See L Brands stock analysis on TipRanks)