Why I’m Bullish On Aviva plc, National Grid plc And WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC

With the FTSE 100 being exceptionally volatile since the turn of the year, it may seem strange to be bullish on any stocks. After all, there’s the chance for further falls in the short term and for many investors, this is enough to warrant selling rather than buying.

However, a number of share prices are now extremely appealing for long-term investors. For example, Aviva (LSE: AV) now trades on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of only 8.2 and for a company that’s set to dominate the life insurance market following its merger with Friends Life, that seems to be unjustifiably low. Furthermore, with Aviva on track to deliver on the synergies that were a key part of the deal, its near-term prospects appear to be sound from a business perspective.

With markets falling, Aviva’s dividend also holds appeal. It yields 5.9% at the present time and with it increasing shareholder payouts by almost 16% in the current year, it could become a must-have income stock in 2016. This has the potential to not only boost income returns for Aviva’s investors, but to also improve investor sentiment and push the company’s share price northwards.

Power play

On the topic of dividends, National Grid (LSE: NG) remains a steadfast income play. It’s one of the most stable and lowest-risk stocks on the FTSE 100 and this provides it with great appeal during periods of uncertainty. That’s a key reason why the company’s share price is flat since the start of the year versus a fall of 10% for the FTSE 100.

With National Grid yielding 4.8%, it continues to offer a higher yield than the wider index and also better prospects for dividend growth. That’s because National Grid is due to increase dividends per share by 2.4% in the current year, while the prospects for increasing dividends in the wider index could be less promising due to dividend cuts among resources companies. With National Grid trading on a P/E ratio of 15.3, it seems to be fairly priced too.

Turnaround ahead?

Meanwhile, Morrisons (LSE: MRW) remains a relatively appealing turnaround story. Although it may not feel like it judging by the performance of the FTSE 100 recently, the UK economy continues to move from strength-to-strength. This is likely to be helpful to Morrisons and aid its recovery plan as it seeks to return to its core operations and become a good value, convenient supermarket for the masses.

With Morrisons yielding 3.3%, it may not have the income appeal of Aviva or National Grid at the present time. However, with earnings due to rise by 22% this year and dividends being covered twice by profit, there’s clear scope for a sustained rise in shareholder payouts over the medium term. This income appeal combined with the company’s growth potential means that Morrisons should benefit from improving investor sentiment. That’s especially the case since its forward P/E ratio of 15.4 doesn’t appear to fully factor-in its turnaround prospects.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of Aviva, Morrisons, and National Grid. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.