6 Picks for Main Street Investors

 | Mar 09, 2017 | 8:00 AM EST
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President Trump's promise to "Make America great again" -- by creating jobs, pushing for tax reforms and deregulation, and renegotiating trade agreements with a view toward strengthening domestic businesses -- has brought Main Street back into focus.

According to the 2017 Business Leaders Outlook survey from JPMorgan Chase, optimism is at its highest level (and pessimism at its lowest) since 2010. Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, recently told WealthTrack's Consuelo Mack that the past decade of slow growth, low interest rates and nonexistent inflation was "great for what the rich people buy and own." But now, he says, we are in a "new era" where conditions are rotating in favor of mainstream-type assets that appeal more to the hypothetical "Joe Six-Pack" investor who is focused on domestic businesses.

This shift even has advertisers and marketers rethinking how they hire, collect data and target consumers, according to a Wall Street Journal article from last November. The wave of support that middle-American voters gave Trump suggests that perhaps those firms trying to gauge consumer preferences are a bit out of touch, and that the demographic they should be targeting is the "rural, economically frustrated, elite-distrusting, anti-globalization voters."

Even if these folks aren't typically the first in line at Starbucks, they would probably gladly join the boycott of the coffee roaster that followed CEO Howard Schultz's promise to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the 75 countries where Starbucks operates.

There are other businesses, however, that stand to benefit from the Joe Six-Pack, everyman mindset that is gaining a head of steam in the current economic and political landscape. Using stock screening models inspired by some of the most celebrated and successful investors of all time, I have identified the following six stocks that might fit nicely into Joe Six-Pack's cooler:

Altria (MO) , through its subsidiaries including Philip Morris USA Inc., makes and sells cigarettes and other tobacco products. The company scores strongly under our Warren Buffett-inspired screening model due to its earnings predictability and 10-year average earnings per share of 17%. Debt could be retired by earnings in less than two years, a requirement under this model, and management's use of retained earnings reflects a stellar return of 67.1%.

General Motors (GM) earns a perfect score under our James O'Shaughnessy-based investment methodology due to its size (market cap of $56.56 billion) and exceptional cash flow per share of $13.11 (versus the market mean of $1.55). Trailing 12-month sales of $166.38 billion exceed the market mean by more than 1.5 times, and the dividend yield of 4.03% is a plus.

C.H. Robinsons Worldwide (CHRW) is a third-party logistics company that provides freight transportation services and logistics solutions. Our Buffett-based model likes the company's ability to pay off debt with earnings in about one year as well as its 10-year average return-on-equity of 37% (versus the minimum requirement of 15%). The company also shows predictable earnings, a plus under this model.

Penske Automotive (PAG) operates automotive and commercial vehicle dealerships in the U.S. and Western Europe. Our O'Shaughnessy-inspired stock screen likes the company's price-sales ratio of 0.21, well below the maximum allowed of 1.5, as well as its persistent and consistently expanding earnings per share over the last five years. Our investment strategy based on the tenets of John Neff favors the company's historical EPS growth (based on three-, four- and five-year averages) of 15.3%, which falls comfortably in the preferred range of between 7% and 20%.

LCI Industries (LCII) , through its subsidiaries, supplies components for the manufacturers of recreational vehicles and adjacent industries. Our Peter Lynch-based stock screen favors the company's price-earnings ratio to growth in earnings per share (PEG ratio) of 0.65 (versus the maximum allowed of 1.0), and gives high marks to the company's extremely low leverage (debt-to-equity of 9.08%).

Lithia Motors (LAD) is a retailer of new and used vehicles and services. Our Martin Zweig-inspired investment strategy likes LAD's price-earnings ratio of 12.44 as compared to the current average market PE of 18. This model likes to see a company's revenue growth be on par with earnings growth, and the company meets this criterion with revenue growth of 27.52% and earnings growth of 29.74%.

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