The 3 Most Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy in January (2024)

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The fourth-quarter (Q4) earnings season is underway, with several blue-chip companies out with their final prints of 2023. As is almost always the case, there have been some market overreactions to the latest numbers, sending some great stocks downward and presenting buying opportunities for investors willing to be patient. Overall, the outlook for this earnings season is pessimistic but there are some undervalued blue-chip stocks to consider.

According to the latest data, analysts on Wall Street expect Q4 earnings growth of 1.30% for companies listed on the benchmark S&P 500 index. For comparison, in last year’s third-quarter, S&P 500 companies recorded year-over-year earnings growth of 13.9%, one of the strongest quarters in several years. Despite the glum outlook, there is always room for surprise, and there continue to be bargains available in this market. Here are the three most undervalued blue-chip stocks to buy in January.

Wells Fargo (WFC)

The 3 Most Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy in January (1)

Source: Ken Wolter /

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) had one of the better Q4 prints among the banks. However, its stock dropped 3% immediately after its financials were released because management warned that the lender’s net interest income for 2024 could come in lower than expected.

Wells Fargo reported Q4 earnings per share (EPS) of 86 cents, which matched Wall Street forecasts. Revenue totaled $20.49 billion, which was ahead of the $20.30 billion that analysts expected.

Wells Fargo’s results would have been better had it not been for $1.28 billion set aside for credit losses. Unfortunately, analysts and investors chose to focus on net interest income in the quarter, which was $12.77 billion—a bit better than the expected $12.76 billion but down 5% from a year ago. That, combined with the muted forecast, pulled WFC stock down. But with a price-earnings (P/E) ratio of only 10 and a quarterly dividend that yields nearly 3%, Wells Fargo looks attractive at current levels.

In the last 12 months, WFC stock has risen 7%, performing better than many of its peers in the banking sector.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)

The 3 Most Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy in January (2)

Source: Ken Wolter /

Many analysts are talking about a rebound in healthcare stocks in 2024. If that’s the case, investors should load up on shares of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and buy the dip after the company’s Q4 results. The largest healthcare insurer in the U.S. reported Q4 financial results that beat Wall Street forecasts on the top and bottom lines. But, like Wells Fargo, UNH stock dropped 3% due to higher-than-expected utilization rate for medical services.

For the final quarter of 2023, UnitedHealth reported EPS of $6.16 and revenue of $94.4 billion. That topped consensus forecasts that called for earnings of $5.98 a share and revenue of $92.1 billion. Sadly, Wall Street didn’t like that UnitedHealth said its medical loss ratio for Q4, which tracks the proportion of premiums paid to cover medical expenses, was 85%, above the 84% estimate. A higher medical loss ratio is of concern because it means more spending on medical expenses and less room for profits.

The past year has been historically weak for UNH stock, which is up 6% in the last 12 months and trailing the market. Trading at 22 times future earnings estimates is also low for the stock, and it pays a quarterly dividend of $1.88 for a yield of about 1.50%. It looks like an undervalued blue-chip stock.

Delta Air Lines (DAL)

The 3 Most Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy in January (3)

Source: Markus Mainka /

Now for a massive overreaction that presents a great buying opportunity. Delta Air Lines’ (NYSE:DAL) stock plunged 9% in a single trading session after the carrier announced that its Q4 profit more than doubled from a year earlier. Not only did DAL stock plunge after the airline issued its Q4 results but so too did the stocks of other U.S. carriers, with American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) dropping 10% on the day and United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) falling 11%.

Airline stocks were already undervalued before Delta’s latest print, especially with air travel in the U.S. returning to pre-pandemic levels and record bookings. But after Delta’s print, the airline stocks look like bargains. Delta reported Q4 EPS of $1.28 versus Wall Street’s forecasted $1.17. Revenue came in at $13.66 billion compared to the expected $13.52 billion. Delta reported $2.04 billion in net income, more than double $828 million a year earlier.

Sales in the latest quarter were up 6% from a year ago, and the airline attributed the strong results to a continued rise in travel demand, particularly for international flights. The company also said that corporate travel is finally improving after the pandemic. But Delta trimmed its outlook slightly, forecasting EPS of $6 to $7, below a previous forecast of $7, and stocks in the entire airline sector crashed. DAL stock is trading at only seven times future earnings forecasts and pays a dividend yielding 1.04%.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.

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As an expert in financial markets and investment analysis, I bring years of experience and a proven track record in understanding market trends, analyzing financial data, and providing valuable insights for investors. My expertise is demonstrated through a background in business journalism, including contributions to reputable publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and financial websites like The Motley Fool and Investopedia. Over the past two decades, I have honed my skills in dissecting earnings reports, evaluating company performance, and identifying investment opportunities in various sectors.

Now, diving into the content from InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips, let's analyze the key concepts and information presented in the article:

  1. Q4 Earnings Season Overview:

    • The article discusses the ongoing fourth-quarter (Q4) earnings season, highlighting that several blue-chip companies have released their final financial results for 2023.
  2. Market Reactions and Buying Opportunities:

    • There's a mention of market overreactions to the latest earnings numbers, leading to some great stocks being undervalued. This creates buying opportunities for patient investors.
  3. Analyst Expectations for Q4 Earnings Growth:

    • Wall Street analysts anticipate a Q4 earnings growth of 1.30% for companies listed on the S&P 500 index. This figure is significantly lower compared to the previous year's third-quarter growth of 13.9%.
  4. Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks:

    • The article identifies three undervalued blue-chip stocks that investors may consider buying in January.
  5. Wells Fargo (WFC):

    • Despite a 3% drop in stock after the Q4 results, Wells Fargo is considered attractive due to a low price-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10 and a nearly 3% quarterly dividend yield.
    • The company reported Q4 earnings per share (EPS) of 86 cents, matching Wall Street forecasts, with revenue exceeding expectations.
  6. UnitedHealth Group (UNH):

    • UNH stock dropped 3% despite beating Wall Street forecasts on both earnings and revenue for Q4.
    • Concerns arose due to a higher-than-expected utilization rate for medical services, reflected in a higher medical loss ratio.
  7. Delta Air Lines (DAL):

    • Delta's Q4 profit more than doubled from a year earlier, leading to a 9% drop in stock.
    • Despite strong results and positive factors like increased travel demand, the entire airline sector faced a downturn after Delta adjusted its earnings forecast slightly lower.
  8. Market Performance and Valuation Metrics:

    • The article provides information on the performance of the mentioned stocks over the past 12 months, emphasizing their current valuation metrics, such as P/E ratios and dividend yields.
  9. Author's Position:

    • The author, Joel Baglole, discloses that he does not have any positions in the mentioned securities, maintaining transparency about potential conflicts of interest.

In conclusion, this article provides a comprehensive overview of the current Q4 earnings season, market reactions, and highlights undervalued blue-chip stocks. The analysis considers various factors, including earnings results, market sentiment, and valuation metrics, offering insights for investors seeking opportunities in the stock market.

The 3 Most Undervalued Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy in January (2024)
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