Investors seeking earnings growth in an uneven market should pick up shares of ADP (ADP) , Microsoft (MSFT) , UnitedHealth (UNH) and 3M (MMM) , said Eric Schoenstein, portfolio manager for the Jensen Quality Growth Fund (JENSX) . Jensen said payroll processor ADP benefits from leading market positions in a business characterized by extremely high customer switching costs - switching from ADP's system to that of another vendor is highly cumbersome. This competitive advantage is reflected in ADP's more than 90% customer retention rate. As for Microsoft, Schoenstein said the company's robust free cash flow has allowed the management team to continually invest in future growth opportunities while also returning over $74 billion to shareholders in share buybacks and dividends over the last five fiscal years. He also noted that the shares currently yield a healthy 2.6%. Regarding UnitedHealth Group, Schoenstein said the insurer has posted "consistently high returns on equity" and has used its free cash flow to continue to grow its business, including strategic acquisitions, as well as to return over $18.1 billion to shareholders via dividends and share buybacks over the last five years. The dividend was recently increased by 25% and has risen five fold since 2011.
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