Top stock picks for 2020

Diversity and expansion are key in this year’s installment of Business North Carolina’s annual stock-picking contest. In early December, each contender selected three companies based or with major operations in the state that they predict will post the strongest gains over the next year. This year, dividend payments will be included as a measure of total return.

stock picks 2020

Ann Zuraw’s Picks:

Albemarle
Corp. (ALB)
Market Cap: $7.1 billion
Dividend yield: 2.3%
In addition to lithium, Albemarle manufactures specialty chemicals. The company’s disappointing earnings results in 2019 stem from an oversupply of lithium, but strong projections for electric vehicle growth should drive demand to increase at a rate in the mid- to high teens annually through 2030. That is great news considering it has more than doubled its lithium-production capacity since 2018. While pricing has hurt recent returns, we believe shares have bottomed and will improve as demand grows.
Extended Stay
America
 (STAY)
Market cap: $2.7 billion
Dividend yield: 6%
Charlotte’s Extended Stay America is the largest lodging real estate investment trust in North America. The company strengthened its balance sheet by extending maturities at fixed rates and has finished installing new technology in a majority of its hotels. While renovation disruption and hurricanes negatively affected results, Extended Stay believes it can double its U.S. footprint.
Hanesbrands
(HBI)
Market cap: $5.3 billion
Dividend yield: 4%
Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands has suffered from higher cotton prices and closings of retail stores that carry its clothing. It’s responding with new online offerings and brand extensions. Consumer preference for low-cost innerwear garments, staples of Hanesbrands, implies revenue even in recessions. The company is expanding into other countries with promising growth prospects, and demand for its Champion brand and other athletic apparel is growing. Dividend payments and share repurchases should provide a base for the stock price.
by Harrison Miller

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