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Top-Ranked Dividend and Value Stocks to Buy in August

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Stocks rebounded in a serious way in July, as part of a rally that began in the middle of June. The positivity might have some investors ready to call a bottom.

The June lows could very well prove to be a market trough, but that will only be confirmed in retrospect. And it might not be time to jump headfirst back into growth stocks and technology names, given all of the uncertainty.

Here’s what we do know. The S&P 500 climbed 9% in July for its best monthly performance since November 2020, with the benchmark index now up around 13% since the middle of June. The strong showing followed the worst first half since 1970. The recent stock market comeback also began right when 10-year U.S. Treasury yields started to fall off their highs.

Investors appear to be betting on both an economic slowdown in the U.S. and globally, as well as the possibility that Jay Powell and the Fed will be able to ease up on the rate hike front in the back half of 2022.

The unknowns caused by the Russian invasion and China’s covid lockdown policies muddy the waters. Meanwhile, the labor market shortages in some industries and jobs cuts in others makes projecting the near-term market and economic outlook more difficult.

Therefore, investors might want to buy stocks that offer value, dividends, and some other solid fundamentals in August and consider holding them as part of a diversified portfolio.  

First BanCorp. (FBP - Free Report)

First BanCorp is a full-service financial services provider that operates in Puerto Rico, the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands, and Florida. The company’s diverse portfolio includes banks, insurance firms, loan companies, and more. First BanCorp is an established financial services company with roots dating back well over 50 years, having gone public in the late 1980s.

FBP’s Banks–Southeast space sits in the top 6% of over 250 Zacks industries right now. And the company topped our quarterly earnings estimates for the seventh period in a row on July 22.

First BanCorp posted a strong Q2 showing amid a positive backdrop for its business in a rising rate environment. The company’s FY22 and FY23 consensus earnings estimates have jumped 7.5% and 6%, respectively to help FBP land a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Zacks estimates call for its revenue to pop 7% this year and 9% higher in FY23 to help lift its EPS by 14% and 9.4%, respectively.  

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

FBP shares have more than doubled the Zacks Finance sector during the last decade, up 325%, including a 10% jump in 2022. First BanCorp stock currently trades for around $15 per share and at a 22% discount to its own 10-year median at 8.9X forward 12-month earnings. 

First BanCorp's current forward P/E also marks 10% value compared to its highly-ranked industry and 35% against the broader Finance sector. Plus, its $0.12 per share quarterly dividend yields 3.2% at the moment to top its industry’s 2.1% and the S&P 500’s 1.5%.

Valero Energy Corporation (VLO - Free Report)

Valero Energy’s core business is refining and processing crude to turn it into products such as gas and other petrochemical offshoots. VLO owns roughly 15 refineries in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., and it boasts that it’s the world’s largest independent refiner.

Valero also runs quickly-growing renewable diesel and ethanol units, as it boosts its bets on alternative fuel sources. The firm is benefiting from soaring prices and its Oil and Gas-Refining and Marketing segment currently ranks No. 2 out of 252 Zacks industries.

VLO’s 2021 revenue surged 76% YoY to easily top its pre-covid levels and it swung from an adjusted quarterly loss of -$3.12 per share to +$2.81 a share. Since then, it’s crushed our bottom-line estimates in 2022, including a 17% beat in Q2 as its margins climb.

Valero’s outlook continues to soar even with oil back under $100 a barrel. VLO’s FY22 consensus EPS estimate is up 95% since its Q1 report, with FY23’s 53% higher, with both improving since its second quarter release on July 28 as well.

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Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Valero’s bottom-line positivity helps it land a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), alongside “A” grades for Value, Growth, and Momentum in our Style Scores system. Plus, 10 of the 11 brokerage recommendations Zacks has for VLO are “Strong Buys” and VLO’s 3.6% dividend yield easily tops its highly-ranked industry’s 1.6% average.

VLO’s yield appears even stronger considering the stock is up 70% in the past year and 270% in the last decade to below away the larger Zacks Oil-Energy Sector’s 19% decline and the S&P 500’s 200% run.

Its valuation is enticing, with Valero trading near new 12-month lows at 5.6X forward earnings. More importantly, Valero’s stunning earnings outlook helps it trade close to its lows over the past 25 years.


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