It’s that time of year again, when we consider how to reward friends, loved ones and acquaintances with corporate stocks that will add to the warmth and glow of the holiday season. But how should we match stock with recipient?
Dad seems to own everything already. Jules says she isn’t going near another initial public offering with the Fed withdrawing liquidity. And young Kyle seems so obsessed with free cash flow these days.
We’re here to help, with the Globe and Mail gift guide, 2022 edition – where we put the stock into stocking stuffer.
For dividend decor: Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
If you’re like many dividend-loving Canadians during the holidays, your home is probably filled with sparkling displays of banks, pipelines and telecoms. Is there room for yet another cash-flowing centrepiece? This season, consider looking beyond stocks with the biggest yields and instead turn your attention toward dividend growers – companies that are generating loads of cash and have good track records for distributing it. Canadian Natural Resources CNQ-T is a strong contender: The energy producer has an indicated dividend yield of 4.4 per cent, based on the annualized rate of its most recent regular distribution. The best part? Add the special dividend it paid in 2022, and the total payouts announced this year have grown by 130 per cent over last year. As debt comes down, the company expects to be even more generous to shareholders, making this the gift that keeps giving – well, as long as energy prices stay high.
For the thrill seeker: Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp.
Algonquin AQN-T is a stable utility and renewable power generator with a good dividend and strong growth prospects. But the dividend is now in question amid disappointing profits and rising borrowing costs. The share price is down 48 per cent in 2022, and the dividend yield has soared to an unsustainable 10 per cent. Since the stock market hates uncertainty and the share price may be reflecting a dividend cut already, there’s a case to be made here that the share price will recover some lost ground after Algonquin updates its long-term outlook. Expect some clarity at the company’s investor day in early 2023, according to analysts. Whether this one pays off or not, your kids will enjoy the wild ride.
For the deep pessimist: Lockheed Martin Corp.
You know the type: The world is falling apart so why bother making plans beyond next week. For the Eeyore in your life, consider a stock that will pay off should pessimism prove the only sane approach to 2023. Lockheed Martin LMT-N, the world’s largest defence company based on revenue, was on a roll in 2022 as investors recognized that the world is a dangerous place. The share price was up 36 per cent in mid-December, year-to-date, amid strong demand for F-35 fighter jets and HIMARS rocket launchers. As supply-chain hurdles subside, the company expects to turn its US$140-billion backlog of orders into growth. What could go wrong? Lots, and that’s bullish.
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For the free-speech enthusiast: Tesla Inc.
What does an electric vehicle maker have to do with free speech? Elon Musk, Tesla’s TSLA-Q chief executive officer, bought Twitter for US$44-billion this year in an attempt to remake the social media site as a town square for, yuck, everyone. Since then, Tesla has been caught up in concerns about the CEO’s divided attention and the impact his baffling behaviour could have on the car brand. But perhaps his antics are a ploy to diversify the EV car market from a core of technology enthusiasts and planet huggers to open-carry proponents, conspiracy buffs and election deniers. And if banning some journalists from Twitter sounds like a contradiction to free speech, then, well, let’s get back to Tesla: Just maybe Mr. Musk is about to double the carmaker’s addressable market. Okay, it’s a long-shot: the share price is down 55 per cent this year, as of mid-December. But the cars are great! And if you like to align your investments with your principles, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.
For the growth maniac: Constellation Software Inc.
Is your family giving you blank stares when they unwrap stocks with 4-per-cent dividend yields? Are worthy, but unpopular, stocks with low valuations being tossed aside come Boxing Day? Then it’s time to consider livening up your celebrations with a stock that has a stellar outlook and impressive long-term momentum: Constellation Software Inc. CSU-T The company has acquired hundreds of small software companies over the years, driving annualized returns of more than 37 per cent through 2021. This year, the shares stumbled: They were down about 8 per cent, as of mid-December, threatening a 15-year winning streak of positive returns. But analysts expect that lower valuations for software firms and less competition among acquirers will lead to an attractive takeover environment for Constellation in 2023. The shares have already rebounded 17 per cent from their recent lows in November, hinting at the potential here.
A lump of coal for your secret Santa (if you’re a Grinch): ARK Innovation ETF.
What’s worse than an overvalued stock of a money-losing company that is struggling in an environment of rising interest rates? An entire basket of them. Cathie Wood’s exchange-traded fund of volatile growth-oriented tech stocks has slumped 63 per cent this year as investors lose interest in the fading guard of the old bull market. The case for a sustained rebound is a tough sell, with interest rates expected to stay elevated. If your anonymity is exposed on this dud, simply tell Cindy-Lou Who that this was all a big misunderstanding. She could sell the ETF, buy it back if the unit price declines further and score a profit.
Why, my sweet little tot, this gift is not coal;
It’s a short-selling gem. It will shine – that’s the goal.