NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." -- Warren Buffett
When we buy products and services in everyday life, quality is directly related to price. The more something costs (generally speaking) the higher quality it is. A new Lexus is going to cost more than a used Pinto, for instance.
In the investing world, the link between quality and price is not as strong. Occasionally, Lexus-level businesses go on sale for Pinto-prices. This is because stocks are easy to trade and subject to the emotions, fears, and greed of crowds. This article looks at three high-quality dividend stocks that appear cheap right now. Each stock is analyzed below and is a Top 20 stock using The 8 Rules of Dividend Investing.
ExxonMobil is the undisputed king of the oil industry. The company has a market cap of $359 billion, making it the largest oil corporation in the world. Additionally, ExxonMobil holds the record for most profit generated in one year by a corporation: over $45 billion.
Investors don't think of oil corporations as stable. ExxonMobil has been a consistent performer over the last three decades, however. The company has increased its dividend payments for 32 consecutive years, making it a member of the exclusive Dividend Aristocrats Index.
ExxonMobil's stock price has fallen about 11% over the last six months. The company's stock is down due to low oil prices. Oil prices have fallen drastically to levels not seen since 2009. They have fallen drastically before and, make no mistake, oil prices will eventually rise. The exact timing of this is uncertain, but there is no reason to believe oil prices will stop fluctuating for the first time in human history and stay around $50 a barrel.
Low oil prices have made ExxonMobil stock incredibly cheap. The stock currently has a dividend yield of 3.2%. Additionally, the company has a low price-to-earnings ratio of just 11.3. ExxonMobil has survived low oil prices time-and-time again and gone on to grow its dividend payments year-in-and-year-out. This time is no different.
AFLAC is the largest insurer in Japan. In total, the company generates about 75% of its revenue in Japan, with the remaining 25% coming from the U.S. In addition to being the largest Japanese insurer, AFLAC is also the world's largest cancer insurance company.
Over the last decade, AFLAC has compounded its book-value-per-share at 11% a year. The company currently pays a 2.5% dividend and has a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.5; AFLAC is one of the few solid dividend stocks on the market with a price-to-earnings ratio under 10. Like ExxonMobil, AFLAC is a member of the Dividend Aristocrats Index and has increased its dividend payments for 32 consecutive years.
The company's stock price is down about 2% on the year. AFLAC is cheap due to fears that a weak Yen will erode shareholder value. Currency prices fluctuate. The dollar is strong now; if it weakens, an investment in AFLAC will rise as the Yen grows comparatively more valuable than the dollar.
AFLAC stock is a rare combination of growth (as evidenced by its 11% book-value-per share growth rate), value (due to its low price-to-earnings ratio), and quality (32 consecutive years of dividend increase). The company will likely continue to grow as it capitalizes on its strong brand and reputation in both the U.S. and Japan.
Warren Buffett recently announced he owns 5% of Deere & Company. Deere & Company is the market leader in agricultural equipment. Warren Buffett generally only invests in high quality businesses. Deere & Company's market leadership in agricultural equipment combined with its 28 consecutive years of dividend payments show the company is of the highest quality.
Deere & Company currently has a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.7 and a dividend yield of 2.7%. The company's dividend yield has not risen to this level since the height of the market collapse in 2009.
The company's stock price has recovered since lows in October, but still appears cheap. Deere & Company's primary line of business is selling agricultural equipment (tractors, etc.) to farms. When grain prices fall, farmers tend to hold off on purchasing new farm equipment. Wheat, rice, corn, and soybean prices have all fallen sharply since 2014. Low commodity prices have caused Deere & Company to become cheap.
Like currency prices and oil prices, grain prices fluctuate. When they eventually rise, Deere & Company will very likely see record earnings. In addition, the company could possibly see its price-to-earnings ratio increase as well, providing a double-windfall for patient investors who are able to hold the stock through its cyclical down period.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held XOM and AFL.