Yield Stocks – BT

Buy Stocks with Good Earnings, Yields: Analysts

Recommendations include Reits, conglomerates, telcos, banks, SPH

IN THE wake of the market downturn and continued uncertainty due to the sub-prime crisis, analysts are urging investors to pick up stocks with strong, visible earnings and high yields.

Among the locally listed companies the analysts recommend are business trusts and Reits, conglomerates, telecommunications firms, and even banks. And most appear to like Singapore Press Holdings.

The recent selldown has ‘thrown open more opportunities to invest in value stocks, especially those that have been on an uptrend until July 2007’, said OCBC Investment Research’s Carmen Lee in a report last week. ‘One area we are focusing on now is higher-yielding stocks.’

Ms Lee said several of the blue chips are still offering fairly good returns, based on OCBC’s estimates. Among these are SPH, which at a price of $4.36 would give a projected dividend yield of 5.2 per cent. Another is ST Engineering, which OCBC expects to yield 4.6 per cent in dividends based on a price on $3.70, with projected earnings growth of 16 per cent.

SPH closed at $4.34 last Friday, while ST Engineering closed at $3.80.

In another report, Citigroup’s Lim Jit Soon said that feedback from a marketing session in Hong Kong suggested investors are ‘generally focusing on markets that have better earnings prospects’.

Another emerging theme: ‘avoiding companies with direct exposure to the US’. But while many investors agreed that the sub-prime crisis will continue to unwind, they were also hopeful that lower US interest rates – which another Citi report said is a distinct possibility and has been ‘well-flagged’ – might improve sentiment.

Investors are looking to position themselves in sectors that might benefit sharply from lower US interest rates, with some looking towards Reits and other yield plays like SPH and Rickmers Maritime, said Mr Lim.

Citi continues to recommend sectors with good earnings visibility. It has ‘buy’ calls on Singapore Telecommunications for its defensive cashflows in mature markets of Singapore and Australia, as well as organic subscriber growth in emerging markets in South-east Asia and India.

Citi also likes DBS, which it said is trading below historical valuations. DBS’s main risk from the sub-prime crisis is a fall in capital-market related fees, which formed 23 per cent of 1H07 revenues, it said.

OCBC said market sentiment for trusts and funds is ‘likely to stay muted’ but at current prices they represent ‘good opportunistic buys’ as they have ‘guaranteed payouts for the next 12-18 months’.

It recommends Babcock & Brown Structured Finance, which it said has an ‘assured yield of more than 10 per cent for 2008.’ Another is ‘yield gem’ First Ship Lease Trust, which – based on a price of US$0.87 – is offering annualised half-year yields of over 10 per cent until 1H09.

UOB Kay Hian also likes SPH for its high dividend yield, as well as AusGroup, Cosco and SembCorp Marine for high earnings growth, and OCBC for higher loan growth potential.

Reits could be attractive if expectations of US monetary easing pan out, but banks are unlikely to outperform until third-quarter results are released, it said.

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