2 Dividend Stocks to Help You Beat the Market in 2023
- Uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s monetary tightening plans and persistently high inflation continue to impact investor sentiment.
- I remain optimistic about companies with strong fundamentals, reasonable valuations, and increasing dividend payouts amid the current market climate.
- As such, I recommend buying AT&T and The Wendy’s Company.
Stocks on Wall Street have gotten off to a strong start in 2023, with January’s rally powered by recent signs that inflation may have peaked. The
is up over 10% year-to-date, while the benchmark
S&P 500 index
Dow Jones Industrial Average
have gained 5.8% and 2.4%, respectively, so far this year.
Despite the upbeat performance, I expect the economy to weaken substantially in the months ahead amid the negative impact of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hike cycle.
If that proves to be the case, I recommend buying shares of AT&T (NYSE: T ) and The Wendy’s Company (NASDAQ: WEN ) as Wall Street continues its wild rollercoaster ride.
Both stocks — which easily beat the market in 2022 — offer relatively high dividend yields and are still attractively valued, making them smart buys amid the current market backdrop.
- *Year-To-Date Performance: +8.6%
- *Market Cap: $142.1 Billion
AT&T is the world's largest telecommunications company and the leading provider of mobile telephone services in the U.S.
Shares have run hot in recent weeks, with T stock marking a gain of almost 38% since slumping to a mid-October 52-week low of $14.46, a level last seen in March 2003.
The stock, which has surged 8.6% through the first four weeks of the new year, ended Thursday’s session at $20, earning it a valuation of $142.1 billion. Shares held up much better than the broader market in 2022, falling less than 1% last year, demonstrating the strength and resilience of its business.
The Dallas, Texas-based blue-chip has carried out sweeping measures over the past 18 months to return to its telecom roots as it transitions from a struggling media conglomerate into a more streamlined organization with a cleaner, healthier balance sheet.
AT&T, which separated its DirecTV satellite TV business in 2021, divested itself of its Warner Media entertainment unit last April, merging it with Discovery (JO: DSBPp ) to form a new publicly traded company, Warner Bros Discovery (NASDAQ: WBD ). Now under new management, AT&T is refocusing its efforts on the U.S. wireless and home broadband markets, offering a variety of 5G wireless and fiber-optic broadband services.
The telecom giant started 2023 with good news after it easily beat
Q4 profit expectations
, driven by better-than-expected quarterly subscriber additions.
AT&T said it added 656,000 postpaid phone subscribers, well above Street estimates of around 645,000 additions, as it used discounts and trade-in offers to win over customers in the highly competitive telecommunications market.
In a sign that bodes well for the company's long-term outlook, AT&T reported $14.1 billion in free cash flow for 2022, slightly higher than management's prior guidance and above the consensus estimate of $13.8 billion.
Looking ahead, the phone service provider expects full-year adjusted earnings per share in a range between $2.35-to-$2.45, with wireless services revenue growth of "4% or higher" and broadband sales rising by 5% or more. Management also set its forecast for free cash flows in the $16 billion region.
CEO John Stankey said in the earnings release:
"As we enter 2023, I'm confident in the trajectory of our business and in our team's ability to deliver profitable and durable growth for our shareholders."
Despite cutting its dividend payout following the overhaul of its media and telecommunications portfolio, AT&T is still one of the 15 highest-yielding stocks in the S&P 500.
The wireless phone carrier currently offers a quarterly dividend of $0.2775 per share, which implies an annualized payout of $1.11 per share at a yield of 5.44%, more than triple the implied yield for the S&P 500, which is 1.56%.
Unsurprisingly, the quantitative models in InvestingPro point to a gain of 7.6% in AT&T’s stock, bringing shares closer to their fair value of $21.51.
The Wendy’s Company
- *Year-To-Date Performance: -3.5%
- *Market Cap: $4.6 Billion
I believe that Wendy’s is well positioned to provide significant long-term value for shareholders as it continues to deliver steady profit and sales growth despite a difficult macro backdrop of elevated inflation pressures and a slowing economy.
In addition to its encouraging fundamentals, the Dublin, Ohio-based quick-service restaurant remains committed to returning additional capital to its investors in the form of increased cash dividends and share repurchases thanks to its strong balance sheet and expected free cash flow growth.
WEN closed at $21.83 last night, within sight of a recent 52-week high of $23.78 reached on Dec. 13. At current valuations, Wendy’s has a market cap of $4.6 billion. Shares are down 1.6% over the last 12 months, compared with the S&P 500’s decline of 6.7%.
Wendy’s reported preliminary fourth-quarter results earlier this month, with revenue expected to be $536.5 million, up 13.4% from $473.2 million in the year-ago period and above the Investing.com consensus of $518.3 million .
The fast-food company said it expects global same-store sales to rise 6.4% from the same quarter last year, above Street expectations of an increase of 4.8%.
In a promising sign, company restaurant margins expanded by almost 300 basis points in the fourth quarter versus the first quarter, Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor said in a statement.
The company plans to release its audited financial statements and file its annual report on March 1.
Wendy’s board of directors doubled the company’s quarterly dividend to 25 cents a share, or $1 annualized, for an annual yield of 4.53%, which is one of the highest in the restaurant industry. The dividend will be payable March 15 to shareholders of record as of March 1, with an ex-dividend date of February 28.
Supported by its strong liquidity position, management also approved a new stock buyback program of $500 million, expiring in February 2027, as it continues to focus on shareholder returns.
Wall Street remains optimistic on the fast-food chain’s stock, with 28 out of 30 analysts surveyed by Investing.com rating WEN as either ‘buy’ or ‘neutral’. Shares have an average price target of around $25, representing an upside of roughly 14% from current levels.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, I am long on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq via the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY (NYSE: SPY )) and Invesco QQQ ETF (QQQ). I am also long on the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK). I regularly rebalance my portfolio of individual stocks and ETFs based on ongoing risk assessment of both the macroeconomic environment and companies' financials.
The views discussed in this article are solely the opinion of the author and should not be taken as investment advice.
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