Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014

By now, you’ve probably heard about TransCanada’s  (NYSE: TRP  )  Keystone XL pipeline. For even the most casual observer of the energy industry, this project has been the spark that has ignited political debates ranging from environmental hazards and emission of greenhouse gases to North American energy independence. In Tuesday’s speech on climate change, President Obama made a point to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline and its role in the United States:

Allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be built requires a finding [from the Department of State] that doing so will be in our nation’s interest … [which] will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.

There are clear environmental concerns that several people have regarding the construction of this pipeline, but the story is so much more than that. Check back at our breakdown of the economic fundamentals of the pipeline here. To help better understand the entire story of the Keystone XL pipeline, we at the Fool want to give investors a better look at what the Keystone XL means for all parties involved. In this part, we’ll look at what needs to happen for the pipeline to pass and examine the different sides of the debate. 

Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: McDonald’s Corporation(MCD)

McDonald?s Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a worldwide foodservice retailer. It franchises and operates McDonald?s restaurants that offer various food items, soft drinks, coffee, and other beverages. As of December 31, 2009, the company operated 32,478 restaurants in 117 countries, of which 26,216 were operated by franchisees; and 6,262 were operated by the company. McDonald?s Corporation was founded in 1948 and is based in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Divine]

    McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD  ) couldn’t help the Dow much on Thursday, adding just 0.3%. Not much changes from day-to-day with McDonald’s, whose golden arches are one of the most recognizable brand symbols in the world. But for blue chip companies like Mickey D’s to maintain their dominance, they’ve got to fend off competition, and embrace innovation and change in the industry. McDonald’s isn’t doing a great job at either of these. Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell is now using real people named Ronald McDonald to endorse the taco haven’s new breakfast menu. And McDonald’s has been slow to embrace smartphone payment technology, as well, even as its rivals rush to develop apps for their consumers.

  • [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]

    Taco Bell/AP There will be a new player in the escalating battle for breakfast on Thursday when Yum Brands’ (YUM) Taco Bell rolls out its new morning menu, and the stakes are huge. McDonald’s (MCD) is the name that most people associate with breakfast fast food. Ever since it introduced the Egg McMuffin in 1972, the world’s largest burger flipper has set the bar for convenient morning meals for people on the go. The Waffle Taco will likely be Taco Bell’s signature breakfast item. The taco-shaped waffle wrapped around a sausage patty, scrambled eggs and cheese turned heads when it was tested in select locations late last year. However, it’s just one of the many items wooing commuters. Naturally there will be eggy breakfast burritos and grilled tacos with either bacon or sausage. The A.M. Crunchwrap gives a morning spin to the Crunchwrap Supreme by blanketing hash browns, scrambled eggs and either bacon or sausage in a pressed and folded flour tortilla. Tough Competition McDonald’s is struggling these days, but it’s still a fierce competitor when it comes to the first meal of the day. Just ask Burger King (BKW), which finds itself copying McDonald’s more often than not, including hotcakes served with sausage and the Egg McMuffin. Just ask Wendy’s (WEN), which retreated from its nationwide breakfast menu a couple of years ago. It’s starting to work its way back in by introducing breakfast in some markets. Even Starbucks (SBUX) has been feeling the threat of McDonald’s as the burger giant beefs up its McCafe line, offering guests drive-thru convenience that many Starbucks locations cannot. Earlier this month Starbucks ran a three-day promotion where it offered free coffee to anyone ordering a breakfast sandwich. It was meant to remind customers that it offers more than just java. Breakfast seems like an easy decision for a fast food leader. Who wouldn’t want to milk more revenue out of a location by extending its operating hours? However, with Wendy’s coming

Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: Apple Inc.(AAPL)

Apple Inc., together with subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers, mobile communication and media devices, and portable digital music players, as well as sells related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications worldwide. The company sells its products worldwide through its online stores, retail stores, direct sales force, third-party wholesalers, resellers, and value-added resellers. In addition, it sells third-party Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod compatible products, including application software, printers, storage devices, speakers, headphones, and other accessories and peripherals through its online and retail stores; and digital content and applications through the iTunes Store. The company sells its products to consumer, small and mid-sized business, education, enterprise, government, and creative markets. As of September 25, 2010, it had 317 retail stores, including 233 stores in the United States and 84 stores internationally. The company, formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc., was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]

    pandora.com Having Pandora (P) fish through its growing digital catalog to surprise music buffs with commercial-free tunes is getting more expensive. Pandora recently announced that the price for its Pandora One service will increase by 25 percent to $4.99 a month for new subscribers starting in May. Existing subscribers paying $3.99 a month will be able to continue at that rate, but the $36 a year premium plan will no longer be available. Will You Pay More? Unlike the groaning that followed the hike in Amazon.com’s (AMZN) Prime, there has so far been minimal backlash for Pandora. That’s because just 3.3 million of Pandora’s 75.3 million active listeners pay for Pandora One. The other 72 million accept the ad blocks and the limited skips (Pandora limits free users to skipping six songs in an hour or 24 over the course of a day). Pandora perpetually tweaks its terms and limitations, but this is the first time that it has increased its Pandora One rate since it was introduced in 2009. Compared to satellite radio that has gone through a pair of increases since 2012 and the annual increases of most cable and satellite television providers, it’s hard to paint Pandora as greedy. As Pandora explains in justifying the increase, the royalties that it pays to performers through SoundExchange for subscription listening have soared 53 percent over the past five years. Battle of the Bands It’s probably just a coincidence that Spotify lowered its price to select users just days after Pandora’s announced hike. Spotify announced on Tuesday that college students — including two-year colleges and vocational schools — could pay just $5 a month for its streaming service. It doubles to the $10 a month rate that everyone else pays after they graduate. Spotify is an on-demand platform that lets users pick the tracks that they want to hear and create play lists. Pandora is a music discovery service that crunches algorithms to serve up tracks that it thinks you will like ba

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has confirmed that it wants in on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad. Consumers have been able to use Microsoft’s key Office programs on the Mac, but now it is official: Office for iPad is here.

  • [By Jeff Reeves]

    Shares of MSFT stock are up more than 40% in the last 12 months. That’s more than the 33% gain for the Nasdaq in the same period, and more than its arch rival Apple (AAPL), which has put up a measly 17% in the same period.

Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: International Business Machines Corporation(IBM)

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) provides information technology (IT) products and services worldwide. Its Global Technology Services segment provides IT infrastructure and business process services, including strategic outsourcing, process, integrated technology, and maintenance services, as well as technology-based support services. The company?s Global Business Services segment offers consulting and systems integration, and application management services. Its Software segment offers middleware and operating systems software, such as WebSphere software to integrate and manage business processes; information management software for database and enterprise content management, information integration, data warehousing, business analytics and intelligence, performance management, and predictive analytics; Tivoli software for identity management, data security, storage management, and datacenter automation; Lotus software for collaboration, messaging, and so cial networking; rational software to support software development for IT and embedded systems; business intelligence software, which provides querying and forecasting tools; SPSS predictive analytics software to predict outcomes and act on that insight; and operating systems software. Its Systems and Technology segment provides computing and storage solutions, including servers, disk and tape storage systems and software, point-of-sale retail systems, and microelectronics. The company?s Global Financing segment provides lease and loan financing to end users and internal clients; commercial financing to dealers and remarketers of IT products; and remanufacturing and remarketing services. It serves financial services, public, industrial, distribution, communications, and general business sectors. The company was formerly known as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. and changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation in 1924. IBM was founded in 1910 and is base d in Armonk, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Again today the big market mover among the DJIA stocks was International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) which dropped 1.39% and traded at $189.94 in a 52-week range of $172.19 to $214.89 just ahead of the closing bell. Volume was on track to be about 10% above the daily average of around 5.2 million shares traded. A fund manager at AlphaOne Capital told CNBC he is shorting IBM stock, saying “the cloud is deflationary” for the company.

  • [By Jim Jubak]

    This is the part of the cloud market where Google competes—and where Google cuts prices. The public cloud sector is dominated by Amazon.com (AMZN) with Microsoft (MSFT), Google, IBM (IBM), and Rackspace Hosting (RAX) competing for the Number Two slot.

  • [By Annalisa Kraft-Linder]

    Nati Harnik/AP Warren Buffett, chairman of the board of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), is surprisingly open about his mistakes, chronicling them for all to read — and learn from — in his annual shareholder letters. The Cigar Stubs The textile mill that gave Berkshire Hathaway its name turned out to be an albatross for more than two decades as Buffett dithered over shutting it down. Located in Massachusetts, far from the new textile and cotton hubs down South, it was a money-loser from the start. He has since admitted his stubborn attachment to it probably cost Berkshire $200 billion in lost opportunity costs to invest in better companies. Back then, Buffett was more a proponent of the “cigar stub” theory of investing — buying a downtrodden company or stock and smoking out the last few puffs of profit. Another iteration of this thesis gone wrong was his purchase of Blue Chip Stamp Co. in the late ’60s. It was a lesser rival of the Sperry & Hutchinson Green Stamps Co. Both involved an early form of loyalty program in which shoppers collected stamps that could be redeemed for merchandise. “When I was told that even certain brothels and mortuaries gave stamps to their patrons, I felt I had finally found a sure thing,” Buffett said in his 2006 shareholder letter. However, Blue Chip revenues declined by more than 80 percent from 1970 to 1980 and by almost 99 percent by 1990 as credit-card loyalty programs and increasing affluence made shoppers reluctant to waste time pasting stamps in books. What Buffett learned became a new leg of his investing stool: to only buy businesses for their demonstrated profitability. The Economic Moat Buffett coined the term “economic moat” to describe the competitive and hopefully monopolistic advantages that will help a company thrive. He has long said he regrets buying Dexter Shoes in 1993, purchasing it with Berkshire Hathaway stock then worth $433 million for an estimated loss of $3.5 billion. He admits now it didn’t have t

Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: Philip Morris International Inc(PM)

Philip Morris International Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in markets outside of the United States. Its international product brand line comprises Marlboro, Merit, Parliament, Virginia Slims, L&M, Chesterfield, Bond Street, Lark, Muratti, Next, Philip Morris, and Red & White. The company also offers its products under the A Mild, Dji Sam Soe, and A Hijau in Indonesia; Diana in Italy; Optima and Apollo-Soyuz in the Russian Federation; Morven Gold in Pakistan; Boston in Colombia; Belmont, Canadian Classics, and Number 7 in Canada; Best and Classic in Serbia; f6 in Germany; Delicados in Mexico; Assos in Greece; and Petra in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It operates primarily in the European Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Canada, and Latin America. The company is based in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Matthew Coffina]

    Philip Morris International (PM)

    Among our holdings, Philip Morris is arguably the most exposed to depreciating emerging market currencies, since it doesn’t have any US sales. Unfortunately, currency fluctuations are an unavoidable tradeoff for emerging markets’ relatively stable cigarette volumes.

  • [By Lawrence Meyers]

    That means you should go with either Altria Group (MO) or Philip Morris International (PM). And if you’re only interested in buying one, I think I’d select MO stock. It pays a slightly better divided (5.2% vs. 4.7%).

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Lorillard have jumped 4.6% to $51.29 at 1:32 p.m. today, while Reynolds American has gained 2.5% to $52.12 and British American Tobacco has dropped 1.1% to $107.62. Altria Group (MO), meanwhile, has risen 0.4% to $36.43 and Philip Morris International (PM) has declined 0.9% to $80.21.

  • [By Kelley Wright]

    Tobacco is a controversial business; but for Philip Morris International (PM), it’s a market basically unaffected by economic slowdowns or rising commodity prices, which means it is stable and defensive; a combination we can live with. We also like the $3.76 dividend, outstanding growth, and a five-year average return on equity of over 160.

Top 5 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: Chevron Corporation(CVX)

Chevron Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in petroleum, chemicals, mining, power generation, and energy operations worldwide. It operates in two segments, Upstream and Downstream. The Upstream segment involves in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas; processing, liquefaction, transportation, and regasification associated with liquefied natural gas; transportation of crude oil through pipelines; and transportation, storage, and marketing of natural gas, as well as holds interest in a gas-to-liquids project. The Downstream segment engages in the refining of crude oil into petroleum products; marketing of crude oil and refined products primarily under the Chevron, Texaco, and Caltex brand names; transportation of crude oil and refined products by pipeline, marine vessel, motor equipment, and rail car; and manufacture and marketing of commodity petrochemicals, plastics for industrial uses, and fuel and lubricant additives. It a lso produces and markets coal and molybdenum; and holds interests in 13 power assets with a total operating capacity of approximately 3,100 megawatts, as well as involves in cash management and debt financing activities, insurance operations, real estate activities, energy services, and alternative fuels and technology business. Chevron Corporation has a joint venture agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation. The company was formerly known as ChevronTexaco Corp. and changed its name to Chevron Corporation in May 2005. Chevron Corporation was founded in 1879 and is based in San Ramon, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Robert Rapier]

    Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) is just the opposite. I was once an investor in this giant Brazilian integrated oil and gas company, whose stock has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the past five years. Over that same span, shares of US integrated majors Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) rallied 98 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The sales big spender was Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) which posted 16 high bids, totaling just over $321 million. Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) offered six high bids, totaling $106 million, followed by Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE: MUR) with 16 high bids, totaling nearly $50 million, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) with four high bids, totaling more than $45 million.

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) is down some 7.4% so far year to date, but it is down 10.2% from its 52-week high of $127.83. It is trading at $114.60, and the consensus target of $129.56 implies upside of just over 13% for the oil giant. While Exxon was barely behind this one, Chevron does at least have that higher 3.5% dividend yield, and that dividend is likely to rise yet again. The company’s capex and drilling outlook failed to excite Wall Street, but that happens sometimes, and vast fields are getting harder to find at economical levels.