Call on Vodafone for growth and income
The British telecom is undervalued and offers a 7% dividend yield.
By Genia Turanova, Leeb Income Performance
We believe that companies with the best growth profiles present the best investment opportunities both long- and short-term -- if you can buy them at attractive valuations. Finding such companies can be difficult, but every now and then an opportunity comes along that is just too compelling to pass by.
This is the case with Vodafone Group PLC (VOD), the world's leading telecom company. While hardly undiscovered, at a market cap approaching $150 billion, the stock is attractively valued on many metrics due to the market's discounting the company as a riskier European investment.
But Vodafone, despite doing a lot of business in continental Europe, is a British company. One important implication of this is Vodafone's smaller exposure to the euro.
Plus, the U.K. has been much more aggressive than the European Central Bank in implementing anti-crisis policies.
Just like the U.S. has benefited from the safe-haven status of the dollar and the easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve, the U.K. and the sterling are safe havens when it comes to European investing.
Thus, the still-undervalued Vodafone can be a great place to start playing the potential rebound in the European stock market.
The company currently trades at valuations similar to AT&T's (T) and Verizon's (VZ), but its projected growth is higher, with potential in mobile data, enterprise and emerging markets especially strong.
And because of the valuation and a 7% yield, the stock should hold its own should the European economic rebound not happen soon.
Vodafone Group Plc is a global conglomerate that operates mainly wireless businesses around the globe through operations split into three geographic regions -- Northern and Central Europe, Southern Europe and Africa, and the Middle East & Asia Pacific.
In addition, the company has a 45% share in Verizon Wireless (which accounts for about 42% of adjusted operating profit).
Vodafone has over 404 million customers, employs over 86,000 people and operates in over 30 countries across five continents, with over 60% of its customers in emerging markets. And the Vodafone brand is the most valuable telecom brand in the world.
For the fiscal year ending in March 2013, Vodafone expects an adjusted operating profit from 11.1 billion euros to 11.9 billion euros, compared to 11.5 billion euros the prior year, and free cash flow from 5.3 billion euros to 5.8 billion euros.
Not only does Vodafone have a long tradition of paying dividends, but its stated dividend policy includes an annual per share dividend growth target of at least 7% until the year ending March 31 2013 (assuming the euro to sterling exchange rate remains within 5% of £1:$1.23).
The relationship with Verizon Wireless has resulted in a 2012 special dividend of $0.4736 per ADR.
While our Vodafone recommendation is not based on a repeat of this special dividend (which is a subject of much speculation), if it indeed is paid again it will be the icing on a very sweet cake.
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