The current financial market is making it difficult for any investor -- aggressive or defensive -- to find value.
The S&P 500 is up almost 17% year to date, making it hard for performance-hungry investors to find bargains.
The average forward one-year earnings multiple is just below 17, above the 10-year average of 14.8. Plus, "We are tweaking our 2019 forecasts to reflect increased risk to economic growth and corporate profits from the ongoing trade conflict between the United States and China," wrote LPL Financial Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch in a Monday note.
LPL reduced its S&P 500 earnings-per-share estimate to $165 from $170.
But the 10-year Treasury is yielding all of 1.6%. That's better than the negative yields found in some EU government debt, but upside to Treasury prices looks limited as the market has priced in several more interest rate cuts.
Steve Sosnick, chief options strategist and head trader at Interactive Brokers, recently told TheStreet that with stock and Treasury prices up on the year, cash for a few weeks may not be a bad option.
Here's Sosnick on going to cash for a bit.
But is anything besides cash promising out there?
Enter dividend stocks.
"In this low-rate environment, dividend payers are certainly a great place to start for investors on the hunt for yield," Rick Swope, VP of investor education at ETrade wrote in emailed remarks to TheStreet. "Investors should look at the fundamentals of large-cap and blue-chip companies."
Swope likes consumer staples and utilities, traditionally defensive sectors with stable companies that pay dividends.
Others agree on blue chips. "You see particularly the true blue stocks, the AT&Ts, the Verizons of the world that have these high yields," JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, told TheStreet. AT&T's (T) - Get Report dividend yield is currently 5.77%, while Verizon's (VZ) - Get Report is 4.24%.
As for Swope's staples, Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report pays a 2.48% dividend, Colgate-Palmolive pays 2.36%, and Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report pays 2.93%, all still far better than the Treasury market. And among the utilities, Con Edison (ED) - Get Report pays 3.36%.
Meanwhile, Kinahan points out, there's potentially a rare deal out there: stocks that at present pay juicy dividends and have the potential for capital gains.
"The energy sector -- you still have stocks that have good yields, and everyone's waiting for crude oil to turn a little," Kinahan said. "If crude can get to $60 a barrel, you can have that opportunity."
The Brent Crude Oil index is at $59, with the West Texas at $55, and an oil rally could boost share prices of oil companies. BP's (BP) - Get Report dividend yield is currently 6.68% and the stock is down 4.5% year to date. If oil prices rally, the total return on BP oil could be considerable.
See 15 more dividend stocks to buy right now here.
For investors looking for capital gains in a tough environment, aside from the oil stocks, Albert Brenner, director of asset allocation strategy at People's United Bank told TheStreet actively managed funds are the name of the game right now. See below.