3 Value Stocks to Buy During a Stock Market Crash

This has been a year of many stock market firsts. We’ve witnessed the quickest plunge into bear market territory in history, as well as the fastest rebound from a bear market bottom to new all-time highs. Sprinkle in a brief period of negative West Texas Intermediate crude futures and the highest reading for the CBOE Volatility Index on record, and you have yourself quite the eventful year.

But sometimes history just likes to repeat itself, rather than be rewritten.

A person writing and circling the word buy underneath a dip in a stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

You see, in each of the past eight bear markets (dating back 60 years), there have been a total of 13 corrections ranging between 10% and 19.9% in the three years immediately following a bottom. In other words, the average rebound from a bear market low sees an estimated one or two pretty sizable corrections to the downside — and more often than not, well before the three-year mark is hit.

What we’ve been witnessing since the first week of September looks to be the first of what could be a handful of corrections or crashes following the breakneck bounce from the March 23 low. History tells us these crashes or corrections are inevitable, and we’re seeing that in action at the moment.

But you should also understand that a plunging stock market is no reason to panic. While red ink can be a bit unsightly in the short run, history has proved that all corrections/crashes are eventually put into the rearview mirror by a bull market rally. This makes any significant downside in the stock market an opportunity to buy great companies on the cheap.

Although growth stocks have been the investment of choice for much of the past decade, value stocks have actually outperformed over the very long run, as well as during periods of economic expansion. With investors liable to place more emphasis on value during this recession, value stocks could be a smart place to park your money during a stock market crash.

Here are three value stocks that investors would be wise to consider buying.

Two CVS pharmacists collaborating while using a computer.

Image source: CVS Health.

CVS Health

The beauty of the healthcare sector is that it’s highly defensive. No matter how well or poorly the U.S. economy or stock market is performing, most healthcare stocks are unlikely to see a material change in demand for their products or services. That’s why any extensive downside in equities would be a full-fledged opportunity to scoop up shares of pharmacy chain CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) on the cheap.

The most straightforward reason to own CVS Health is the growing likelihood that an aging U.S. population will become reliant on maintenance therapies over time (i.e., boomers are aging). With improved access to healthcare and more brand-name drugs coming off patent, CVS should see a steady uptick in sales from its pharmacy segment. It should be noted that pharmacy sales produce more-palatable margins for CVS than its front-end retail sales.

A less obvious reason (but nevertheless an important one) to consider buying CVS Health is the company’s acquisition of Aetna, which was completed in 2018. Aside from cost synergies, the deal actually inflates CVS Health’s organic growth opportunities, as well as incentivizes Aetna’s millions of members to stay within the CVS Health ecosystem.

You can scoop up shares of CVS Health today for less than 8 times forecast earnings in 2020, and you’ll receive a 3.5% yield to boot.

An engineer placing a hard-disk drive into a data center server tower.

Image source: Getty Images.

Western Digital

Believe it or not, there is still traditional value that can be found in the technology sector. Assuming you have an investment horizon that’s measured in years and not days or months, data-storage solutions company Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) could be the perfect value stock.

Western Digital is a cyclical company that’s been clobbered by supply concerns in the near term. But it’s also a company with plenty of growth catalysts on the runway.

For example, it’s a significant player when it comes to gaming console storage. Though the gaming console cycle tends to be lumpy and cyclical, we’re currently in an expansion phase that should see demand pick up for Western Digital.

But what I find more exciting are the storage needs for data centers. With the coronavirus pandemic completely altering the traditional office environment, demand for remote clouds should soar. This means an even greater reliance on data centers in the years to come. Western Digital’s hard-disk drives should remain a key player in data center storage, with its NAND flash products potentially representing the future of data center storage.

Western Digital shares can be bought right now for roughly 6 times next fiscal year’s projected per-share profit, according to Wall Street.

A bank teller handing cash back to a customer.

Image source: Getty Images.

Bank of America

Though the idea of investing in bank stocks may not sound appetizing given the uphill climb the U.S. economy is facing, value investors would be doing themselves a disservice by overlooking Bank of America (NYSE:BAC).

The highly cyclical banking industry is likely to see its interest income-earning potential disrupted in the near term by the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep interest rates near a record-tying low. At the same time, loan delinquencies are expected to rise, as is common during a recession. This combination means Bank of America and its peers could see compressed earnings for a year or two.

Thankfully, Bank of America benefits from the fact that the U.S. economy spends far more time expanding than it does contracting.

BofA is also the most interest-sensitive of the big banks. What this means is that when interest rates do start rising, Bank of America’s interest income would be expected to swell faster than its peers. That makes Bank of America a particularly smart buy for a rebounding economy.

CEO Brian Moynihan also deserves credit for the company’s complete 180 from a decade ago. He’s shored up BofA’s balance sheet, enhanced the company’s digital engagement with customers, and managed to close some of the company’s physical branches to rein in noninterest expenses.

Opportunistic investors can buy into Bank of America right now for 17% below its book value and just 11 times next year’s forecast earnings. For those who are curious, we have to go back four years to find a time when BofA was this consistently cheap relative to its book value.

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