7 Smart Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy Now

When you’re in a growth-driven market like this one, it’s easy to forget the value of having quality blue-chip stocks around.

We watch prices of stocks soar, market capitalizations surpass the $1 trillion mark, and all that excitement usually isn’t the same when you think about healthcare equipment makers, big-box retailers or diaper makers.

But the fact is, sexy stocks are great for a time — and if bought responsibly, they are a great addition to your portfolio. But so are blue chips.

And blue-chip stocks are the workhorses that get the job done year in and year out while the others provide all the drama.

These seven smart blue-chip stocks to buy are solid companies that will get the job done. They provide healthy growth, and some even offer exposure to one of the hottest tech trends now. And in a few cases, these companies provide reliable, respectable dividends.

Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy: McCormick (MKC)

McCormick (NYSE:MKC) is a spice and packaged seasonings company that has been around since 1889.

It’s a good bet that you grew up using its spices and they’re likely in your current home as well. McCormick took this niche industry into the big time and built a global business out of it.

What’s more, because it’s been around so long, it has built a very good relationship with the major grocery store retailers, so its products remain on shelves in MKC’s unique displays.

And while competition has grown, MKC has done a good job keeping up with new flavors and the hot trends that take over the food scene. Most recently, MKC released a new hot sauce (one of those newer, booming trends) under its iconic Old Bay brand.

The hot sauce sold out within hours of its first day on the market.

With a market cap of $21.8 billion, it’s not a “Masters of the Universe” company, which in today’s market is a good thing. McCormick keeps its ear to the ground and is deft enough to stay up with consumers’ changing tastes.

The stock is up 30% in the past year and delivers a reliable 1.5% dividend.

Ball (BLL)

Ball (NYSE:BLL) is one of those great American stories. It first started in 1880, making tin containers encased in wood for kerosene, naphtha and paint thinner. But kerosene ate through the tin, so the company started making glass containers.

When the Mason patent on canning jars expired, the Ball brothers moved into that market. It sold that division in 1993, but maintains the name and licenses it to another company.

After World War II, Ball wanted to diversify and began to work with the U.S. Department of Defense building satellites. As space became a growing interest to the U.S. government, Ball began getting more avionics and aerospace contracts.

Not forgetting its roots however, in the 1960s, it bought a metal company and expanded into the recyclable can business. And now it is one of the leading plastic and metal can makers around the world.

It may not be building high-end electric vehicles, but the next time you’re in your supermarket, look at all those metal and plastic cans on the shelves. And beverage containers. And spray cans. Ball makes them all over the world. It’s the kind of rock-solid business model I target in my Growth Investor recommendations.

BLL stock is up 44% in the past year and delivers a 0.8% dividend.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB)

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) is one of the leading consumer staples companies in the world.

Established in 1872, its brands include Kleenex, Huggies, Cottonelle, Scott and many others. Its products are available in 175 countries and the company estimates that 25% of the population uses its products every day.

That is some serious market penetration.

In recent years it has done a good job of focusing its product line so it can compete with its larger peers and yet still maintain a growing base of customers. For example, it saw the opportunity for disposable diapers in developing countries and won a big chunk of that business when others weren’t interested.

There may be a bit of a bump in the coming quarters because of the situation in China, but given its products are key daily items, it may struggle as much as luxury good producers.

The stock is up 26% in the past 12 months and still delivers a rock-solid dividend just shy of 3%.

Waste Management (WM)

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) is all about trash. And nowadays, that’s a very big deal.

You may be starting to see a theme with the blue chips at this point. These aren’t sexy industries. But they are fundamental to both the U.S. and global consumer.

And for all the consuming we do in the United States, there’s lots of waste to dispose.

Also remember that China and other parts of Asia stopped taking in trash from the U.S. last year. This was a game-changer in the waste management industry in the U.S. It meant trash and recyclables that were headed overseas had to be disposed of in the U.S.

Many smaller waste companies couldn’t manage it. They didn’t have the dump space and the industry was having a tough time adjusting. But big players like WM could take advantage of this because they have broad and deep influence across the U.S.

The stock is up 28% in the past year and has a 1.7% dividend. That’s a combination I find attractive in my Growth Investor strategy. And this kind of growth is sustainable for a while.

Target (TGT)

Target (NYSE:TGT) needs no particular introduction. The big-box retailer that started in Minneapolis in 1902 has become as iconic a brand to consumers as any other brand out there.

A few years back however, things weren’t looking good for the retailer. An early attempt in the e-commerce arena led to the biggest data breach of any major company at the time and spooked both consumers and management.

Then the massive growth of e-commerce started putting pressure on its major brick-and-mortar footprint. It was tough to improve margins as retail went online.

But TGT turned it around and now, as Macy’s (NYSE:M) joins its department stores peers in closing down, TGT is back in its growth mode.

Adding groceries, reinvigorating its offerings and using stores as same-day pick-up spots for e-commerce purchases are just some of things that have got it back on track.

The stock is up 64% in the past year — take that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) — and it delivers a very reliable 2.3% dividend.

Danaher (DHR)

Danaher (NYSE:DHR) is all about life sciences and healthcare. And this is one of the biggest non-consumer growth sectors for the next decade and beyond.

The boom in technology has had a significant effect on the healthcare sector. Because it’s such a risk-averse sector, change is very slow in coming.

The newest devices may be cool, but if they’re complicated to use, crash often, require a lot of TLC or maintenance, then they’re not worth the time or risks.

But when these technologies are finally embraced, it a race to grab market share. Especially when wireless speeds are about to skyrocket — opening up a new world of profit opportunity for tech investors.

DHR is very good at being in the right place at the right time to grab that market share. It does this by acquiring well-respected niche brands and using them as revenue generators.

For example, it recently bought General Electric’s (NYSE:GE) biopharma unit. This company isn’t a household name but its products and services are key components of the industries it’s involved in.

The stock is up more than 50% in the past year, and it has a 0.4% dividend.

Mastercard (MA)

Mastercard (NYSE:MA) may be a credit card company to you, but it’s far more than that.

It’s what every fintech wants to grow up to be. Financial technology (fintech) firms are the equivalent to financial services that e-commerce companies are to retail. It is revolutionizing the industry.

And while you don’t expect one of the big market players to be the object of startup fintechs’ desires, MA has such global prowess. It has transitioned from a sleepy middle man of credit and debit card transactions into a major digital banking player.

The “payments” sector — the transaction piece of the business deal — is the biggest aspect of fintech efforts because it’s the biggest part of financial operations. And MA has been doing it on a huge scale for decades.

And given its positioning in the high-growth digital payments sector, it will continue to be a major player.

The stock is up 54% in the past year and shares a 0.5% dividend.

— Louis Navellier

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Source: Investor Place