Although the markets have rallied following a steep decline in early February, volatility remains elevated for stocks.
While it may cause investors' heart to palpitate a little more often, a healthy dose of volatility is actually a good thing. Why? Because it allows for reasonable pullbacks in stocks that investors can then buy and ride higher.
J&J -- a stalwart in the stock market -- is a perfect fit for a number of investors. It can be a building block of dependability in a Millennials' portfolio, while also a trustworthy dividend payer for income-seeking retirement investors.
At the start of the year, J&J stock rallied to new all-time highs near $150. Since then, the stock has struggled and is now trading around $131. While the decline may have been startling for investors, that's exactly the kind of decline I'm talking about that comes from added volatility. It's also exactly what new investors need to get long the stock.
With that decline, the stock's dividend now yields just over 2.5%. Admittedly the dividend yield isn't enormous, but what it lacks in size is made up for in dependability.
Through the recessions, housing crisis and stock market scares, Johnson & Johnson has not only paid, but raised its dividend through it all. In fact, J&J has raised its dividend for 55 consecutive years.
I expect the sun to rise each morning and for J&J to bump its annual payout.
Finally, analysts expect about 6% revenue growth this year and for earnings to grow 11%. For this, we're paying a rather reasonable 16 times 2018 earnings estimates.
16 times for double-digit earnings growth, mid-single-digit sales growth, a 2.5% dividend yield and a rock-solid balance sheet.
How to Buy J&J Stock
Of course, we could just hit the open market and buy common stock in J&J. For others, though, they may prefer a more complex, yet rewarding strategy.
For those comfortable using options, they can consider selling cash-secured put options. With a name like J&J -- at least in my mind -- the goal is to sell a cash-secured put with the intention of buying 100 shares.
There are two main risks with short-put sales: A big decline or a big rally.
If on expiration, the stock closes above our short put sale, we get to keep the credit we received and the put expires worthless. This is great, as we put money in our pocket just for being willing to buy a high-quality stock on a decline.
However, this isn't great if we want to own J&J and only pocket a small amount of cash while the stock rallies significantly higher.
The other risk is a big decline, as J&J stock could tumble and we're on the hook to buy the stock at a set price (the short put's strike price). While this is a negative, it's better than if we were to buy 100 shares of the stock, because we would have a lower cost basis, and thus, a smaller loss.
Getting specific, investors could look to sell the March 29 $130 put for about $1. Expiring in just eight days, investors will be obligated to buy the stock if it closes below $130 on expiration. If so, we will have 100 shares of J&J with a cost basis of $129 (strike price - credit received).
If J&J stock closes above our short price, the $1 credit ($100) is ours to keep and the put will expire worthless.
The above strategy is for an investor who truly is looking to get long J&J stock. Those who want lower risk of expiration can chose a lower strike price. Other investors may want to consider a farther-dated expiration.
Keep in mind, Johnson & Johnson will report earnings on April 17, just a few days before regular April expiration.