The investing track record of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -1.52%) (BRK.B -1.51%) CEO Warren Buffett suggests he might know a thing or two about the stock market and identifying value. Since taking the helm of Berkshire in 1965, he’s created approximately $660 billion in value for shareholders (himself included) and has delivered a jaw-dropping 20.1% average annual return for his company’s Class A shares (BRK.A).
Given how successful the Oracle of Omaha has been for more than a half-century, everyone from professional to everyday investors pays close attention to what he’s buying and selling in Berkshire Hathaway’s investment portfolio.
Buffett’s portfolio is also a great place to start when you’re looking for stock-buying ideas during a bear market pullback. Though Berkshire Hathaway holds around four dozen securities in its investment portfolio, three Warren Buffett stocks stand out as plain-as-day screaming buys in November.
Johnson & Johnson
The first Warren Buffett stock just begging to be bought as we near the home stretch of 2022 is healthcare juggernaut Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.52%), or J&J for short. Although J&J is contending with poor investor sentiment, it’s a company that continues to fire on all cylinders.
Healthcare stocks are one of the smartest places to put your money to work during a bear market. No matter how poorly the U.S. economy performs or how negative investor sentiment turns, we don’t have the ability to control when we get sick or what ailment(s) we develop. There will always be demand for prescription drugs, medical devices, and healthcare services, which means J&J is predominantly inflation-and-recession-proof.
Though a stronger U.S. dollar is hurting sales for multinational companies like Johnson & Johnson, a deeper dive reveals that everything is fine from an operating standpoint. Excluding currency movements, pharmaceutical and medical technology (MedTech) segment sales are respectively higher by 10.2% and 6.6% through the first nine months of 2022.
One of the primary reasons J&J has been able to deliver adjusted sales growth and earnings growth in the high single digits for such a long time is its diverse operating segments. For instance, the company has shifted its focus to higher-margin drug sales over the past decade. But since brand-name drugs have relatively short periods of sales exclusivity, the company can rely on its MedTech segment to pick up the slack when certain therapies are exposed to biosimilar or generic competition.
Another reason J&J is such a rock-solid investment is its capital-return program and balance sheet. Johnson & Johnson has raised its base annual dividend for 60 consecutive years, and is one of only two publicly traded companies that sports the highest credit rating (AAA) issued by Standard & Poor’s, a division of S&P Global. J&J’s credit rating is higher than that of the U.S. federal government.
At a time when investors are looking for safety and value, Johnson & Johnson’s sub-17 forward price-to-earnings ratio and 2.6% dividend yield stand out like a beacon.
A second Warren Buffett stock that’s a screaming buy in November is U.S. Bancorp (USB -0.96%), the parent company of U.S. Bank. Despite recessionary fears weighing on cyclical sectors, such as financials, U.S. Bancorp is one of a handful of financial stocks positioned to thrive, even in a challenging economic environment.
One of the biggest tailwinds for bank stocks at the moment is Federal Reserve monetary policy. Normally, a weaker economy and/or plunging stock market would encourage the nation’s central bank to ease interest rates or offer some form of quantitative easing measures. But with inflation hitting four-decade highs in June, the Fed has had no choice but to aggressively raise rates into a bear market.
Banks with outstanding variable-rate loans are benefiting via widening net interest margin and higher net interest income. In U.S. Bancorp’s case, its net interest income jumped nearly 21% year over year in the August-ended quarter.
Another important factor working in U.S. Bancorp’s favor is the fiscal prudence of its management team. During the financial crisis between 2007 and 2009, most money-center banks were clobbered by riskier derivative investments they’d made that ultimately backfired.
U.S. Bancorp largely avoided this mess thanks to its focus on what I call the bread and butter of banking: growing loans and deposits. While growing loans and deposits isn’t necessarily an exciting operating model, it’s a profitable one for U.S. Bancorp that’s led to superior return on assets when compared to other big banks.
U.S. Bancorp is also setting the standard when it comes to digital engagement. By the end of August, 82% of the company’s total active customers were banking online or via mobile app. Equally important, 62% of loan sales were completed digitally. For banks, digital sales cost a fraction of what in-person or phone-based interactions run. This sizable digital presence has allowed the company to consolidate some of its branches and minimize increases in noninterest expenses.
Investors have an opportunity to buy one of the best-run banks on the planet for less than 9 times forward earnings, and they’ll receive a 4.5% annual dividend yield for their patience. That’s a steal of a deal.
The third Warren Buffett stock that’s a screaming buy in November is FAANG stock Amazon (AMZN -0.94%). Although the company’s third-quarter operating results signaled some near-term struggles, Wall Street and investors seem to be overlooking the key performance indicators that matter most.
For most investors and consumers, Amazon’s dominant online marketplace is what comes to mind when the “Amazon” name is brought up. This year, Amazon should account for more U.S. online retail sales revenue than its next 14-closest competitors, combined. However, retail demand is slowing as high inflation bites into the pocketbooks of low-earning workers, which is why the company’s fourth-quarter sales forecast badly missed the mark.
But even though Amazon’s online marketplace is its top revenue producer, it’s not a particularly important segment when it comes to operating cash flow. Online retail sales margins are usually very low. Rather, it’s the company’s higher-margin trio of Amazon Web Services (AWS), advertising services, and subscription services that are key to operating cash flow growth.
Cloud infrastructure segment AWS commands nearly a third of global cloud-service spending, according to Canalys. Cloud growth is still in its early stages, and the high margins associated with the cloud lead to significant operating income for Amazon. Through the first nine months of 2022, AWS has accounted for 16% of the company’s net sales, as well as all of its operating income (since the retail segments have produced operating losses).
Likewise, subscription services (e.g., Prime) and advertising services are growing by double-digit percentages. Excluding currency movements, subscription service and advertising service sales grew by 14% and 30%, respectively, in the recently ended quarter. The segments that really matter to Amazon’s cash flow are doing just fine.
That brings me to the final point: Amazon’s cash flow. Though earnings per share is a common tool used by investors to value publicly traded companies, it works poorly with Amazon, given that the company reinvests most of its operating cash flow back into the business. During the 2010s, investors willingly paid a median end-year multiple of 30 times cash flow to own Amazon stock. You can buy shares today for about 9 times Wall Street’s forecast cash flow for the company in 2025. That’s incredibly cheap for a winner like Amazon.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Sean Williams has positions in Amazon. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and S&P Global. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson and recommends the following options: long January 2023 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2023 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short January 2023 $265 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.