Many of the products sold by pharma giant AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN)(NYSE: AZN.US) are non-discretionary — its consumers have no real choice over whether to purchase or not. This brings a high degree of visibility and certainty to sales and profits.
Those sales typically rise/fall independent of the wider economy.
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These factors exert a double-whammy on steadying the company’s share price. The high dividend yield also provides an incentive to hold, rather than trade the shares.
However, there are some fears over AstraZeneca’s ability to develop new drugs.
AstraZeneca is forecast to pay $2.80 in dividends for 2013, out of $5.24 of earnings per share (EPS). That’s a 2013 P/E of 9.4, and a forecast yield of 5.7%.
Wm. Morrison Supermarkets
Whatever happens to the UK economy, food consumption rarely declines. In recent decades, this has made supermarket retailers a very solid investment. Their track record has inspired investor confidence in their shares. The result is that means they are less volatile than the average FTSE 100 company.
Shares in Wm. Morrison Supermarkets (LSE: MRW)(NASDAQOTH: MRWSY) have suffered in recent years as the company has lost ground to its rivals. However, the company now has an established unique fresh food offering and is finally moving into online and smaller store sales. The next two years’ results will have a huge effect on Morrisons’ stock market rating.
EPS is expected to dip slightly this year, putting the shares on a P/E today of 11.2. A healthy dividend increase is forecast, pushing the expected yield to 4.4%.
With over 620,000 staff, outsourcing specialist G4S (LSE: GFS) is one of the world’s biggest employers. The company provides a range of crucial services to governments and the private sector. Many of its customers are reliable payers and its contracts are frequently long term.
Despite these strengths, G4S has disappointed recently. The Olympic staffing ‘omnishambles’ damaged the G4S brand. This was followed by the company referring itself to the Serious Fraud Office amid accusations that it had been overcharging.
The shares trade today on a 2013 P/E of 13.5 and come with the prospect of a 3.5% dividend yield.
If you believe in G4S’ long-term prospects then you are in good company. The UK’s best fund manager, Neil Woodford is also a fan. If you would like to see what else Mr Woodford has been buying, the get the Motley Fool research report “8 Shares Held By Britain’s Super Investor” . This report is entirely free and will be delivered to your inbox immediately. Just click here to start reading today.
> David does not own shares in any of the above companies. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Morrisons.