Looking for a cheat sheet of the best S&P 500 stocks based on a variety of criteria? Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, the investment banking arm of Bank of America, generated 20 stock screens for investors to peruse.
"Our themes include large caps over small caps, high quality over low quality, liquidity over leverage and sustainable/growing dividends over high dividend yield," the analysts wrote in an April 29 note to clients.
BofA/Merrill Lynch found 17 high-quality, cash-rich stocks in the S&P 500, excluding the financial sector, based on the following criteria:
- Market cap greater than $10 billion
- S&P quality rank of B+ or better
- Net debt (cash) to market cap less than the index median of 16%
- Total cash to market cap greater than the index median of 5%
- S&P long-term credit Rating that is investment-grade
- Stocks that are under-owned by active fund managers (relative weight less than 1 according to recent fund holdings)
The metrics are as of March 31.
BofA/Merrill Lynch cautions though that the screens are not recommended lists either individually or as group of stocks and that investors should consider the fundamentals of each company as well as their own individual investment objectives before making any investment decision. On that note, two of the 17 stocks are rated underperform by BofA/Merrill Lynch equity analysts.
With that said, here is the list of 17 high-quality, cash-rich stocks.