Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own For 2014

Oil and gas MLP LINN Energy (NASDAQ: LINE  ) has become a battleground stock this year. Vicious short-sellers have called the company’s accounting aggressive, if not erroneous. Further, those who are negative on LINN assess its worth as low as $5.50 a unit. Needless to say, it’s been a rough year for investors in LINN, especially after it was disclosed that the SEC would now be looking into its books. 

One of LINN’s 19,000 producing oil and natural gas wells. (Photo courtesy of LINN Energy)

I firmly believe that LINN will successfully navigate the SEC inquiry, which once resolved should end the attacks against the company. In anticipation of that happening, I want to take advantage of the weakness created to add to my position in the company. In fact, I can point to two other major reasons why I think LINN and its affiliate LinnCo (NASDAQ: LNCO  ) are both compelling values worth buying today.

Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own 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 Paul Ausick]

    McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) traded up 1.02% today at $97.14. The company said it would offer free coffee at breakfast time for a two-week period beginning next Monday. Investors apparently like the idea that the company is responding to new competitive breakfast offerings. The 52-week range for the stock is $92.22 to $103.70. Trading volume for the shares was about 25% below the daily average of around 5.3 million shares traded.

  • [By Bloomberg Businessweek]

    Alamy McDonald’s (MCD) may recently have struggled to lure customers, but it still does far more business at each location than rival burger chains. The average McDonald’s restaurant in the U.S. drew $2.6 million in revenue last year. Average sales for No. 2 chain Burger King (BKW): $1.2 million, according to data from its largest franchisee, Carrols Restaurant Group (TAST). What accounts for this more-than-a-million gap? “Everything from marketing and site selection to product initiatives and franchisee selection have been historical factors,” said Nick Setyan, vice president in charge of equity research at Wedbush Securities, in an email. Here are four factors that drive higher sales volumes at McDonald’s: 1. McDonald’s gets more customers during off-peak hours. Look no further than the strength of its breakfast business relative that of Burger King, says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at restaurant consultancy Technomic. Egg McMuffin is part of the fast-food vocabulary in a way Burger King can’t match. And beverage and snack offerings such as McCafe and wraps have helped increase McDonald’s sales between meals. The dramatic impact from off-peak business explains why chains such as Taco Bell (YUM) are entering the battle for morning customers, while others such as Starbucks (SBUX) are seeking more afternoon and evening business. 2. The power of the Happy Meal. McDonald’s has the largest share of kids meal sales in the fast-food industry and gets about 10 percent of total sales from Happy Meals, the most commonly advertised child-oriented fast-food item on television. Burger King, meanwhile, is still trying to win back “parties with kids and seniors and women,” said Josh Kobza, Burger King’s chief financial officer, at a conference last year. One way to do that: “We got rid of the creepy king character that tended to scare away women and children.” 3. McDonald’s has an edge on efficiency. Despite recent operational challenges at McDonald’s,

  • [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]

    Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images From a new player in the fast food market cleverly attacking the leader’s mascot to a social giant bringing out its inner shutterbug, here’s a rundown of the week’s smartest moves and biggest blunders in the business world. Twitter (TWTR) — Winner There are limitations inherent with Twitter, and the 140-character cutoff is just scratching the surface. Twitter’s had its monetization challenges because it’s not as interactive with multimedia, but that’s taking a step in the right direction this week with the hashtag hasher sprucing up its offerings for shutterbugs. Twitter will now allow Twitter users to tag fellow users in photographs. Twitter will also let someone include as many as four photographs in a single post. We live in visual times, and while Vine and Twitter’s original photo platform are decent, it’s great to see the dot-com darling take things up a notch. King Digital Entertainment (KING) — Loser There are tens of millions of Candy Crush Saga players on any given day, but apparently most of them would rather be matching candy pieces than buying into the game’s developer. Game creator King Digital Entertainment went public at $22.50 on Wednesday, and unlike many of the dot-com darlings that have pulled off blazing IPOs, the market spat the Candy Crush maker out. The stock opened lower and closed its first day of trading down 16 percent, at $19. It was easy to see this coming. Many key performance metrics had peaked at King during last year’s third quarter. Oculus — Winner Few figured that Facebook (FB) would rush into any big-ticket purchases after its $19 billion deal for Whatsapp, but then the social networking leader announced the purchase of Oculus for $2 billion. Oculus is a virtual reality headwear maker that started drawing attention as a Kickstarter campaign. Critics have pointed out that the backers of that crowdfunding campaign that raised $2.5 million on Kickstarter will get nothing out of this deal.

  • [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.

Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own For 2014: Visa Inc.(V)

Visa Inc., a payments technology company, engages in the operation of retail electronic payments network worldwide. It facilitates commerce through the transfer of value and information among financial institutions, merchants, consumers, businesses, and government entities. The company owns and operates VisaNet, a global processing platform that provides transaction processing services. It also offers a range of payments platforms, which enable credit, charge, deferred debit, debit, and prepaid payments, as well as cash access for consumers, businesses, and government entities. The company provides its payment platforms under the Visa, Visa Electron, PLUS, and Interlink brand names. In addition, it offers value-added services, including risk management, issuer processing, loyalty, dispute management, value-added information, and CyberSource-branded services. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The stock doing its best to sink the Dow 30 today was Visa Inc. (NYSE: V). The credit and debit card issuer was hit with a $5 billion lawsuit this morning. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is the first of the big retailers to file its own case for damages related to card swipe fees charged by Visa and other issuers. Visa’s stock traded down 1.91% today at $211.65 in a 52-week range of $161.27 to $235.50. Trading volume was nearly equal to the daily average of around 3.2 million shares traded.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    After announcing last Friday that they would not be processing any transactions for Russian banks, Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) restarted payment processing on Saturday. Payment processing was halted following the inclusion of individuals who own banks on a list of 20 Russian officials and businesspeople who have been identified as targets of U.S. sanctions related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own 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 Dan Burrows]

    It’s one thing to spruce up the bottom line by cutting costs. It’s quite another to grow the company by creating demand for BlackBerry smartphones — perhaps an impossible task now that Samsung (SSNLF) and Apple (AAPL) dominate the market.

  • [By tyokunbo]

    Adobe faces a stiff competition from Apple (AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and a privately held company called Quark Inc. Although Adobe’s market rivals are looking to expand into the cloud computing segment, I believe the firm will be able to maintain its growth through its product differentiation solutions. Furthermore, the Adobe Creative Cloud is positioned as one of the most popular brands in the application software sector.

  • [By Jason Cunningham]

    He cited Bubble Witch as the largest game on Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) for PC users, with a total of three Digital King titles ranked in Facebook’s top ten games. Farm Heroes, meanwhile, became one of the top ten grossing games for Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android in 11 days, and in less than six weeks for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS.

  • [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

Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own 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%).

Top 5 Blue Chip Stocks To Own 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 John Reese]

    Chevron Corporation (CVX)

    Since I started tracking my Guru Strategies nearly ten years ago, the performance of my Graham-based model has been rather remarkable. Even though the strategy Graham outlined is now more than 60 years old, it just keeps on working.

  • [By Brendan Conway]

    My Best Stocks for 2014 entry these days is weighed down by lackluster returns in massive stocks like Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Walmart (WMT), and disappointment in the retail sector. Fortunately, VIG isn’t about shooting the moon — it’s about favorable risk-adjusted returns.

  • [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.