With the stock markets flying high and valuations going through the roof, it's more important than ever for investors to focus on stocks that offer good value while still having plenty of growth potential left. And when it comes to picking good stocks to hold for the long term, there are no better footsteps to follow in than Warren Buffett's.
Below are three stocks that are currently held by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway that look to be good buys heading into December.
Visa (NYSE: V) is an example of a stock that will always be a great long-term buy. Recession or not, consumers will continue using their credit cards for purchases, making Visa a relatively stable investment.
In its most recent earnings report, the company continued to see growth as it processed $47.8 billion transactions, which was up 13% from the prior year. Net revenue of $6.14 billion was also up by a comparable amount and its per-share earnings of $1.47 soundly beat estimates of $1.43.
With another busy holiday season coming in December, Visa's network is likely to get active again. Even if retailers struggle, there's a good chance online shopping will pick up the slack. Either way, Visa could benefit from a rise in consumer spending, which continues to be strong as September and August both showed modest growth of 0.2%.
Visa's stock is a bit pricey, as it trades at more than 30 times earnings and 13 times book value, which are multiples that are rich for price-conscious investors. But given the growth and the opportunities that Visa presents over both the short and long term, it's a worthy exception to make -- especially when you consider the stock has produced returns for investors of more than 170% over the past five years. Rival Mastercard is also held by Berkshire, but with Visa trading at a more modest valuation (34 times earnings versus Mastercard's trailing P/E ratio of 43) and being lower in volatility, it looks like the safer of two payment stocks to buy today.
2. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) has been embattled in controversy in recent years. From a ruling relating to opioids in Oklahoma to an $8 billion fine related to its Risperdal drug, the company has had a challenging year. These are just a few examples of the product liability issues the company faces. The biggest is asbestos contamination of its talc baby powder. Thousands of people are suing the company, some claiming they developed cancer as a result of using J&J's baby powder. Most recently, a class-action lawsuit in Australia was successful in proving the company's transvaginal mesh was faulty and that it caused infections and complications for many women. Despite all the problems plaguing the company, the stock has proven to be resilient, still up more than 7% year to date, coming off a strong quarter boasting a profit of $4.8 billion.
However, December could be a month where the stock sees a bit more selling, especially for investors who bought it in late June near the stock's peak and may be looking to sell their shares and use the losses to bring down their tax bills. Over the past two years, shares of Johnson & Johnson are down 2% and frustrated investors may be looking for a new start with another investment heading into the new year.
The good news for prospective investors is that the stock is a Dividend Aristocrat, having increased its dividend payments for 57 straight years. J&J's dividend yields 2.8%, and the dividend income is a great way to pad the stock's lackluster results. And with the dividend likely to continue rising over the years, the stock could be an ideal long-term buy.
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is another solid stock for investors to hang on to heading into the peak shopping season of the year. Online shopping is not going out of style anytime soon, and Amazon could be the big winner of the holiday season if consumers decide to stay home and buy gifts online. With the company promising "deeper discounts than ever before" for Black Friday, it's certainly looking to bank on a busy season at the end of the year to lift the stock into what could be another strong quarter.
Amazon is trying to make up for a disappointing Q3 performance that failed to get investors excited about the stock. The company's guidance for Q4 is below analyst expectations, so there's ample opportunity for Amazon to pull out a big surprise, especially if its deals are as enticing as promised. And with the company offering free next-day shipping for Prime members on as many as 10 million items, Amazon could be the go-to location for last-minute shoppers scrambling to find the perfect presents.
Despite the risk that consumer spending may decline during the holiday season, Amazon is doing what it can to stack the deck in its favor -- which makes it an appealing buy heading into December. Although its stock isn't cheap, trading at 80 times earnings, it has fallen more than 7% since July and a strong performance in Q4 could be all that's needed to inject some life back into the stock.
The three stocks listed above are all well-known brands that will be great long-term buys for many years to come. For investors who are growth-focused, both Amazon and Visa present attractive opportunities, with the latter being a better value buy. Meanwhile, for investors who want a solid dividend, Johnson & Johnson could be the safest buy-and-hold investment of the three.
All three stocks were held by Berkshire Hathaway as of Sept. 30. While some may be a bit on the expensive side, it's not hard to see why they would be Buffett-approved stocks given how strong their businesses are. This strength will likely continue for many years.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2021 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short January 2020 $220 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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