Two Big Name Stocks You Need To Watch

As global stocks markets continue to fall, investors are increasingly nervous — and for good reason. Losses are hard to take, even if they’re only (or mainly) on paper. And it’s only natural to see day after day of stock market declines and worry that the trend will continue.

I’m not going to deny the negative emotional consequences of the market’s recent swoon. Hey, I’m feeling it too. But applying reason in an emotional situation is what successful investing is all about. And reason dictates that an overall market decline can create bargains for anyone with cash on the sidelines, ready to buy — as I discussed earlier this week.

#-ad_banner-#In recent articles, I’ve recommended several high-quality stocks that are trading at attractive prices thanks to the market’s declines (and in most cases for no reason related to the company’s own fundamentals). And now that the selloff is officially a correction, down more than 10% from its recent high, more bargains are emerging every day. What really excites me when stocks get cheaper is the opportunity to buy shares of companies that usually aren’t on sale, because they’re so darn good they usually trade at an expensive premium.

Here are two stocks that aren’t yet selling at “buy” prices, but could get there soon. Put them on your watch list and keep an eye on my recommended buy targets. If these shares fall below the target, consider buying some as long-term investments:

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has fallen about 28% from its 52-week high and is only a few dollars above its August intraday low. Any time this global innovator and market leader falls significantly, it’s worth watching closely for an attractive entry point. However, I don’t think we’re there yet.

Apple is vulnerable to slowing smartphone demand from China, Brazil and other emerging markets; it is slowly losing market share to Android; it hasn’t found a smooth path to transition iTunes to a streaming service yet — its Apple Music service is so far enjoying a lukewarm reception — and it’s unclear whether its new-product pipeline is as strong as in years past. As one of the largest, most-owned stocks in the U.S. market, it’s also likely to fall along with the overall market as institutional and individual investors shift out of stocks.

That said, let’s not forget this company’s myriad strengths, nor ignore an opportunity to add Apple shares at a share price that could seem mighty cheap a year from now.

Apple is the most innovative and admired technology company on the planet, having transformed itself from a niche personal computer maker to the #1 maker of premium smartphones and tablets and the #1 music seller. Its regular introductions of next-generation iPhones have all been successful — though some more than others — and the iPhone 7 will debut in September, no doubt to much fanfare.

Apple also is extremely strong financially, with almost no debt and more than $200 billion (!) in cash on its balance sheet. This financial might gives Apple’s leaders enormous flexibility to invest in new products and technologies or make acquisitions that will keep Apple growing in the years to come.

We may get a chance to buy Apple next week. The company plans to announce its fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday afternoon, and if they’re at all disappointing, watch for a drop at the bell Wednesday. Any price below $92 provides an attractive entry point for a stock that analysts predict will rebound to above $140 within the next 12 months. Even if they’re overly optimistic — and I think they are — Apple is a core long-term holding in any portfolio and surely will move substantially higher in the next year or two.

One of the world’s largest and most-storied companies, General Electric (NYSE: GE) is about as “blue chip” as you can get, but that’s not a reason to own the stock. What’s most attractive about GE is its long-term growth prospects as a leading global provider of hardware, equipment and systems for infrastructure — especially the alternative-energy industry that will experience strong growth for decades to come.

GE’s energy business is currently depressed due to its dependence on selling heavy equipment for oil and gas exploration activities, but when oil prices rebound, the unit’s diversified businesses will be a strength, not a weakness. GE is a leader in such equipment as wind turbines, for which demand is rising sharply. GE also has experienced strong growth over the years from aviation, as it is a major producer of aircraft engines; slowing economic growth in emerging economies has dampened analysts’ enthusiasm for this business, but long term it positions the company for strong growth.

GE also sells medical equipment, a growth business thanks to the aging of America. What it no longer sells is loans, having shed its GE Financial business last year. That makes GE much less vulnerable to financial downturns, returning the company to its long-standing identity as a maker of electrical equipment. It’s financially strong, with plenty of free cash that it’s using to boost the dividend and buy back shares.

GE shares have dropped about 11% from their 52-week high, and at current levels they trade at about 18.5 times analysts’ consensus estimate for 2016 full-year earnings per share. That’s not particularly cheap, but if oil and gas prices begin to rebound this year, the estimate could rise. Given GE’s high quality and strong position in growing businesses over the long run, the stock represents good value below $26.

GE is scheduled to announce fourth-quarter earnings on Friday; if they disappoint, the stock could get below our target price. If it does, snap up shares and hold.

Risks To Consider: Apple and GE are vulnerable to more bad news about economic growth overseas, particularly in China and other large developing nations. 
Action To Take: Buy Apple below $92 and General Electric below $26.

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