It's been a tough year for the market; not even the average blue chip has proved to be immune to weakness. The Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI) currently sits 10% below its January high. And given the most recent round of headlines on inflation and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it certainly feels like things could get worse before they get better.
Veteran investors, however, know most headwinds are not only temporary, but are also ultimately buying opportunities.
To this end, here's a rundown of three Dow names that have been lackluster performers of late and might even drift lower before all is said and done. But they could well rebound by the latter half of the year and rally beyond 2022. Here they are in no particular order.
IBM(NYSE: IBM) was once the powerhouse of the technology world. Not anymore, though. The advent of the personal computer started a long stretch of growing irrelevancy for Big Blue. By 2016, its failed revitalization prompted most investors to forget about IBM altogether.
Although it's still nowhere near its previous powerhouse status, a glimmer of hope is starting to shine. Under the relatively new leadership of CEO Arvind Krishna and armed with its 2019 acquisition of cloud computing specialist Red Hat (not to mention last year's spinoff of its managed infrastructure business), IBM is rolling again. On a constant-currency basis, last quarter's total top line was up 11% year over year, driven by a combination of growth from its software, hybrid, and consulting operations.
The company doesn't think this pace will persist. Its guidance calls for sales growth "at the high end of the mid-single-digit range" for the remainder of 2022. Analysts collectively (although conservatively) peg that growth at 6.2%.
Even at the lowest of the likely growth scenarios, though, a little top-line progress translates into even stronger bottom-line progress. This year's free cash flow guidance of $10 billion to $10.5 billion is leaps and bounds better than last year's spinoff-adjusted free cash flow of $7.9 billion.
Simply put, Krishna's prioritization of IBM's hybrid cloud computing capabilities is the right call. Last week's post-earnings pop of 10% suggests the market has not been pricing this stock appropriately.
While the pandemic put an intense focus on pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines aimed at curbing the virus, it did so at the expense of other pharma names not heavily involved in the effort. Merck (NYSE: MRK) was one of those names.
Its shares are more or less priced where they were right before the coronavirus started to spread across the world, and that's only thanks to its 15% run-up from February's lows. Without that bullish bump, Merck would be one of the few names still in the red for the two-year stretch.
The thing is, like IBM's recent bullishness, Merck's gains of late are likely only a taste of what's to come.
Largely overlooked during the pandemic is that the need for other drugs and medicines never went away. And Merck has plenty of those treatments in its portfolio. They include cancer-fighting blockbuster Keytruda, diabetes drug Januvia, HPV vaccine Gardasil, and a bunch of other prescription drugs the world needs but gives little thought to.
Indeed, Keytruda is being tested in eight trials right now that could dramatically expand the marketability of this already-proven oncology therapy, promising to add even more to last year's $17.2 billion worth of sales of the drug.
Some analysts argue that the company is too dependent on Keytruda, which accounts for about a third of its business. And the worry isn't entirely unfair. But CEO Rob Davis said during last quarter's conference call, "We have an expanding portfolio of commercial and developmental oncology assets beyond Keytruda, which offer meaningful growth opportunities beyond 2028."
He added, "We have many important franchises beyond oncology that we expect can drive durable growth into the next decade, including Gardasil, which we believe can potentially double by 2030." The recent acquisitions of Acceleron Pharma and Pandion Therapeutics underscore another piece of the company's strategy for survival; what it doesn't have in its pipeline or portfolio, it can buy.
In short, there's enough stuff in the works to at least continue supporting Merck's dividend, which currently yields 3.2%.
Finally, add Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) to your list of stocks set to soar during the back half of this year.
Investors keeping close tabs on the capital markets might raise their eyebrows at this assertion. Consulting firm EY recently noted that the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) completed during the first quarter fell 37% year over year, and the total amount of money raised during the first quarter fell 51%.
That's alarming considering that investment banking is one of the company's biggest revenue drivers, while related ancillary operations account for another huge piece of Goldman's revenue. Underscoring this alarm is the fact that Goldman Sachs' first-quarter revenue slumped 27%, cutting earnings by more than 40%.
What the headlines don't adequately point out, however, is that the entirety of 2021 (and the fourth quarter in particular) set the bar abnormally high for 2022's comparisons. EY also points out that the first quarter of last year was a record-breaker for public offerings, while the fourth quarter of 2021 was also the biggest and busiest fourth quarter for the capital markets business since 2007.
Sure, Goldman Sachs will face tough comparisons for the rest of the year. The fund-raising business is hardly dead, though, despite what the stock's 24% tumble from November's peak implies. Investors should start to figure this out soon or later. The forward price-to-earnings ratio of 8.2 means it's a buying opportunity in the meantime.
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