Tag Archives: MSFT

7 Strong Mega-Cap Stocks to Snap Up For Dividends and Growth

Though the stock market continues to ride high in 2021, the meatiest headlines have been made by growth stocks and exciting meme plays. While triple-digit gains have been made, these riskier picks. And investors cannot afford to get complacent. So, a case can be made for investing in mega-cap stocks in the current economic climate.

One of the easiest ways to fireproof your portfolio is to invest in mega-cap stocks dominating their respective markets. Yes, the price momentum of these mature companies with large market capitalizations does not compare favorably with the likes of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) or Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOOD). But they will continue to pay dividends to their shareholders and progress at a nice pace because of their established positions.

Here are seven mega-cap stocks that are solid investments that will provide you with comfort when market volatility is high and economic uncertainty is on the rise:

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Mastercard (NYSE:MA) JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH)

Investors in these stocks can look forward to healthy dividends and stock growth besides. Let’s dive in.

Mega-Cap Stocks to Buy: Morgan Stanley (MS) The logo for Morgan Stanley is displayed on the side of a building.Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

The novel coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on lower-income Americans but didn’t seem to impact the finances of ultra-high net worth individuals and institutions very much at all. For example, investment banking giant Morgan Stanley had about $4 trillion of client assets and nearly 70,000 employees at the end of 2020.

Full-year net revenues climbed to a record $48.2 billion compared to $41.4 billion a year ago. Net income was $11 billion ($6.46 per diluted share) versus $9 billion ($5.19 per diluted share) a year ago.

The bank’s strength has traditionally been its equities-trading franchise — the biggest in the world. That segment had yet another great year: equity sales and  net trading revenues increased 22% year on year.

In mid-July, the investment bank reported another stellar quarter, reporting net revenues of $14.8 billion compared with $13.7 billion a year ago. EPS of $1.85 a share handily beat the consensus estimate of $1.65 estimate per share.

Morgan Stanley’s equities trading once again topped estimates handsomely, producing $2.83 billion in revenue to beat analyst estimates by $400 million. Its two other significant divisions, wealth management and investment management, also surpassed expectations.

One other important area to consider when investing in MS stock is its dividend. The banking colossus has hiked its distribution for seven consecutive years, with a three-year growth rate of 32.6%. That’s a very healthy payout to go along with steady upward price momentum.

Alibaba (BABA) Alibaba Group (BABA) headquarters sign located in Hangzhou ChinaSource: Kevin Chen Photography / Shutterstock.com

Alibaba is the world’s largest online retail website. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021, annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted on Alibaba’s e-commerce market places in China reached approximately 7.49 trillion yuan. Alibaba’s revenue subsequently grew in the June quarter by 22%. Plus the company’s retail operations grew by 14% and cloud revenues were up 29%.

But it has been a challenging year for BABA stock. Shares of the e-commerce giant are down 10.8% in the last month as Chinese regulatory activity takes a steep toll on the stock.

Two events are of particular importance. Last November, Chinese regulators halted the initial public offering of Ant Group, the operator of the Alipay mobile payment service and Alibaba Group’s sister company.

Ant Group was poised to raise $35 billion in the world’s largest-ever IPO. On the bright side, according to a member of the board of directors, it will “not be too long” before Ant Group can resume its suspended IPO.

The other big regulatory development was a $2.8 billion fine levied against the Chinese tech giant for antitrust violations, leading to a net loss in the March quarter of 5.47 billion yuan, its first operating loss as a public company.

Overall though, BABA remains a very strong enterprise. My colleague Dana Blankenhorn does a great job explaining how omnipresent the Jack Ma-founded company is in China in an insightful article. You are essentially dealing with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft and MasterCard rolled into one.

Yes, the regulatory activity in China, much like the U.S. and Europe, will ramp up. But considering its size and strength, any dips are a massive buying opportunity.

PayPal (PYPL) PayPal (PYPL) logo overlays daylight photo of corporate buildingSource: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

PayPal provides electronic payment solutions to merchants and consumers, with a focus on online transactions. In 2020, PayPal’s total payment volume or TPV grew by around one-third year-on-year, as the digital payment provider increased exponentially during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

However, the San Jose, California-based company recently missed second quarter revenue estimates amid former parent eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) switching to another payment processor. As a result, the stock dipped, providing you with a great opportunity to invest in this one.

At the end of 2020, PayPal had 377 million active accounts, including 29 million merchant accounts. It also owns Xoom, an international money transfer business and Venmo, a person-to-person payment platform, both of which are doing exceedingly well.

And despite the tough quarterly results, there is plenty to smile about if you are a PayPal stockholder. The company added 11.4 million new active accounts in the second quarter for a total of 403 million active accounts.

Revenue grew 19% year over year in the quarter that ended June 30. Total payment volume jumped 40% to $311 billion, while the Venmo app, which started supporting cryptocurrency services in April, saw payment volume jump 58% to $58 billion.

Compared to several mega-cap stocks, PYPL has excellent price momentum behind it.

Microsoft (MSFT) Image of corporate building with Microsoft (MSFT) logo above the entrance.Source: NYCStock / Shutterstock.com

The original darling of the dot com bubble remains a very strong name in the tech world. Microsoft doesn’t grab as many headlines as it used to, but this is a tech giant that has grown exponentially in the last five years. And it has diversified its business into several segments with robust recurring revenues.

Microsoft recently reported Q4 FY 2021 earnings, once again handily beating expectations. Adjusted EPS rose 48.6% over the year-ago period and revenue surpassed analyst estimates, up 21.3% compared to the year-ago quarter.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud revenue jumped 51% year-over-year, exceeding expectations. The platform now has a roughly 20% share of the $150 billion global cloud market as of the end of Q1 2021. second only to Amazon Web Services in terms of global cloud market share.

The Azure cloud platform is more than 200 products and services, a suite of tools and services developers can use for networking, storage, mobile and web application services, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and other computing needs. Azure is key to Microsoft’s future, with recession-proof revenue streams and stable recurring fees.


Overall, with three broad divisions, including diverse businesses such as legacy Microsoft Office, SQL Server, Skype and LinkedIn, there is hardly any facet of your life that doesn’t connect with an MSFT product.

Mastercard (MA) A close-up shot of Mastercard (MA) credit or debit cards.Source: Alexander Yakimov / Shutterstock.com

Mastercard has rewarded investors handsomely over the years. The stock has outperformed the S&P 500 by 177.1% and its sector by 190.2% in the past five years on a dividend-adjusted basis.

But lately, all the headlines are reserved for PayPal, an excellent stock in its own merits. MA won’t grow nearly as fast as PayPal. However, Mastercard is also an interesting way to play the growing digital payment trend. As things get back to normal, people will start traveling more and cross-border card transactions will increase, benefitting Mastercard massively.

Most recently, Mastercard surpassed sales and earnings estimates for the second quarter. The company reported $4.5 billion in revenues, beating estimates by 3.7%. EPS of $2.08 a share also beat the $1.74 expected by Wall Street analysts.

International transactions, Mastercard’s bread and butter, rose 33% in local currency from the June 2020 quarter. This was due to a strong increase in domestic card spending and gains in cross-border purchases as countries reopen for travel and business.

PayPal won’t see the same tailwinds because it is doesn’t benefit the same way from pent-up travel demand. It makes MA a slightly better reopening play in my eyes.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) A sign for JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM).Source: Bjorn Bakstad / Shutterstock.com

Although banks had a rough 2020, some fared better than others.

America’s biggest bank, JPMorgan, reported net revenue of $29.2 billion and $29.1 billion for the fourth and third quarters of 2020. Considering the steep fall in interest rates and the overall depressed economic atmosphere, these are excellent numbers.

More recently, the banking giant posted a 155% jump in second-quarter profits as the U.S. economy continued to rebound.

Trading revenue fell 28% from last year’s record-breaking levels. But a surge in deal-making and the release of $3 billion set aside to cover feared pandemic losses more than made up for it.

Looking ahead, the country’s largest bank offered a muted outlook. It warned that low-interest rates, weak loan demand and a slowdown in trading will weigh down results in the forthcoming quarters.

“We have bright spots in certain pockets and the consumer spend trends are encouraging,” Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Barnum spoke on a call.

However, he warned that corporate clients and consumers have a lot of cash at their disposal due to substantial stimulus funds and low interest rates. Hence, core lending revenues might not benefit this year from the broader recovery.

Nevertheless, JPMorgan is a bellwether for the U.S. economy. As consumer spending comes roaring back to life, JPM is a safe stock to have in your portfolio.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) The UnitedHealth (UNH) headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota.Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

UnitedHealth Group is a data-driven healthcare enterprise comprised of Optum, its pharmacy and care delivery division, and UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurer. Overall, the group oversees 140 million patients who produce approximately 1.5 trillion transactions per year. That is a big data pool, which is leveraged to improve medical care.

For instance, the company immediately rescheduled 4,000 appointments to virtual telemedicine visits at the pandemic’s start. As soon as trends emerge, Optum analyses them and acts on the newly emerged patterns. This gives it an edge over more traditional companies and platforms.

Over the last five years, the tech-focused healthcare company has seen earnings increase by 18.8%, while sales jumped 9.0%. For more than ten years, the company has hiked the dividend consistently; the distribution has grown by 24.5% during this time.

In summary, UnitedHealth is an asset-light business. It pays a handsome dividend and has grown exponentially in the last five years. If you want a great defensive pick for your portfolio, look no further.

On the publication date, Faizan Farooque did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Faizan Farooque is a contributing author for InvestorPlace.com and numerous other financial sites. Faizan has several years of experience analyzing the stock market and was a former data journalist at S&P Global Market Intelligence. His passion is to help the average investor make more informed decisions regarding their portfolio.

Best Growth Stocks For 2021

Over the objections of the board of directors, shareholders of Smith & Wesson parent American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ:AOBC) adopted a resolution to force the gunmaker to report on gun violence in the country and the impact on and risk to the company’s financial and operational health.

Similar to the one the same shareholders had Sturm, Ruger produce, the resolution demanded American Outdoor examine three things and issue a report on its findings by Feb. 8. The company was to:

Monitor violent events in which Smith & Wesson products are used. Prove the gunmaker is working to produce safer firearms and related products. Assess the risks to the gunmaker’s reputation and financial well-being from gun violence in the U.S.

The reportmet all three requirements, but it also came out with guns drawn in defense of its business and industry, as well as the gun buyers who support it. Here’s what it had to say.

Defending gun buyers and the Second Amendment is an important component of American Outdoor Brands’ reputation. Image source: Getty Images.

Best Growth Stocks For 2021: Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc.(SASR)

Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc. (the “Company”) is the bank holding company for Sandy Spring Bank (the “Bank”). The Company is registered as a bank holding company pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (the “Holding Company Act”). As such, the Company is subject to supervision and regulation by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”). The Company began operating in 1988. Sandy Spring Bank traces its origin to 1868, making it among the oldest banking institutions in the region. The Bank is independent, community oriented, and conducts a full-service commercial banking business through 45 community offices located in Central Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington D. C. The Bank is a state chartered bank subject to supervision and regulation by the Federal Reserve and the State of Maryland.   Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Stephan Byrd]

    Acadian Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:SASR) during the 4th quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The institutional investor bought 10,892 shares of the bank’s stock, valued at approximately $341,000.

  • [By Max Byerly]

    Nicolet Bankshares (NASDAQ:NCBS) and Sandy Spring Bancorp (NASDAQ:SASR) are both small-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their valuation, earnings, analyst recommendations, dividends, risk, profitability and institutional ownership.

  • [By Joseph Griffin]

    Sandy Spring Bancorp (NASDAQ:SASR) was upgraded by investment analysts at BidaskClub from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday.

Best Growth Stocks For 2021: CoBiz Financial Inc.(COBZ)

CoBiz Financial Inc. (CoBiz), incorporated on February 19, 1980, is a financial holding company. The Company operates in three segments: Commercial Banking, Fee-Based Lines, and Corporate Support and Other. The Company’s Commercial Banking segment offers commercial, real estate and private banking, as well as treasury management, interest-rate hedging and depository products. The Company’s Fee-Based Lines segment offers employee benefits brokerage and consulting, insurance brokerage and wealth management services. The Company’s subsidiary CoBiz Bank (the Bank) is a full-service business banking institution serving approximately two markets, including Colorado and Arizona. In Colorado, the Bank operates under the name Colorado Business Bank and has over 10 locations, including approximately nine in the Denver metropolitan area, and others in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Vail. In Arizona, the Bank operates under the name Arizona Business Bank and has over five locations serving the Phoenix metropolitan area and the surrounding area of Maricopa County.

The Company’s other subsidiaries include CoBiz Insurance, Inc. and CoBiz IM, Inc. (CoBiz IM). CoBiz Insurance, Inc. provides commercial, personal property and casualty (P&C) insurance brokerage, risk management consulting services to small and medium-sized businesses and individuals, and provides employee benefits consulting, insurance brokerage and related administrative support to employers. CoBiz IM provides wealth planning and investment management to institutions and individuals through its investment advisor subsidiary, CoBiz Wealth, LLC.

Lending Activities

The Company provides a range of lending services, including commercial loans, commercial and residential real estate construction loans, commercial and residential real estate-mortgage loans, consumer loans, revolving lines of credit and tax-exempt financing. Its primary lending focus is commercial and real estate lending to small- and medium-s! ized businesses with annual sales of $5 million to $75 million, and businesses and individuals with borrowing requirements of $250,000 to $15 million. Commercial loans consist of loans to small and medium-sized businesses in a range of industries. Real estate mortgage loans include various types of loans, for which the Company holds real property as collateral.

The Company originates loans to finance construction projects, including one- to four-family residences, multifamily residences, commercial office, senior housing and industrial projects. The Company provides a range of consumer loans to customers, including personal lines of credit, home equity loans, jumbo mortgage loans and automobile loans. Other loans include lending products, such as taxable and tax-exempt leasing, not defined as commercial, real estate, acquisition and development, construction, or consumer loans. The Company’s total loans amount to approximately $2.7 billion.

Investment Activities

The Company classifies its investment securities as held to maturity, available for sale or trading. Available for sale securities consist of bonds, notes and debentures (including corporate debt and trust preferred securities (TPS)) not classified as held to maturity securities. Investment securities held to maturity consist of residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS), bonds, notes and debentures. The total investment securities of the Company are approximately $345.58.

Sources of Funds

The Company’s sources of funds are customer deposits. The Company offers a range of accounts for depositors, which are designed to attract both short- and long-term deposits. These accounts include certificates of deposit (CDs), money market accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts and individual retirement accounts. The Company’s short-term borrowings include federal funds purchased, securities sold under agreements to repurchase, which mature within approximately 90 days, and a line of c! redit wit! h the federal home loan banks (FHLB). The deposits of the Company are totaled to approximately $2.7 billion.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Shane Hupp]

    CoBiz Financial (NASDAQ:COBZ) and MB Financial (NASDAQ:MBFI) are both finance companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their earnings, profitability, valuation, analyst recommendations, risk, institutional ownership and dividends.

  • [By Shane Hupp]

    Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on CoBiz Financial (COBZ)

    For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Best Growth Stocks For 2021: Microsoft Corporation(MSFT)

Microsoft Corporation develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products and services for various computing devices worldwide. The company?s Windows & Windows Live Division segment offers PC operating system that primarily includes Windows 7 and Windows Vista operating systems; Windows live suite of applications and Web services; and Microsoft PC hardware products. Its Microsoft?s Server and Tools segment provides Windows Server operating systems, Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Server, SQL Azure, Windows Intune, Windows Embedded, Visual Studio, Silverlight, system center products, Microsoft consulting services, and product support services. This segment also offers enterprise consulting services; and training and certification to developers and information technology professionals, as well as builds standalone and software development lifecycle tools for software architects, developers, testers, and project managers. The company?s Online Services Division segment provides online information and content through Bing, MSN portals, and adCenter, as well as Atlas online tools for advertisers. Its Microsoft Business Division segment offers Microsoft office; Microsoft Exchange; Microsoft SharePoint; Microsoft Lync; Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM; and Microsoft Office Web Apps, as well as office 365, an online service, offering Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. The company?s Entertainment and Devices Division segment provides Xbox 360 entertainment platform, which includes the Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment console, Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox 360 video games, Xbox LIVE, and Xbox 360 accessories; Mediaroom, an Internet protocol television software; and Windows Phone that provide Microsoft Office and Xbox LIVE functionality. It markets and distributes its products and services through original equipment manufacturers, distributors, and resellers, as well as through online. Microsoft was founded in 1975 and is headquartered i n Redmond, Washington.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By ]

    Altogether, there are 41 such companies — and, perhaps not too surprisingly, the list includes such giants as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Visa (NYSE: V) and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO). But these mega-caps are also significantly larger what we’re after in my premium newsletter, Game-Changing Stocks. Hence, as my last step, I selected the smallest five companies on the list. Here they are.

  • [By Motley Fool Transcribers]

    Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT)Q32019 Earnings CallApril 24, 2019, 5:30 p.m. ET

    Prepared Remarks Questions and Answers Call Participants
    Prepared Remarks: