Stock Picks and Politics: Four Companies to Buy Cheap After CEOs Meet With Obama


The CEOs of 20 companies are visiting the White House Wednesday,

17 of which are publicly traded businesses. While it's possible that this meeting is just a photo op, there's a good chance that those corporate executives will try to get something from the administration in exchange for the political cover they're giving President Obama. And whatever they ask for is likely to lead to better earnings for their shareholders down the road, which makes some of them good picks for your 2011 portfolio.

Administration staffers say this meeting is part of Obama's normal efforts to reach out to the business community, but it's likely that the president invited these CEOs to the White House now because he was stung by the $30 million spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- a private lobbying group -- to back Republican candidates in the midterm elections.

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Obama clearly thinks it will be more effective to meet with business leaders for a public talk rather than attempt to mollify the conservative chamber privately. So, will this meeting incite these companies and others to use a greater fraction of the $1.9 trillion cash they have stashed away to hire some of the 15 million Americans looking for work?

Of course not. However, it may get these savvy CEOs some goodies, which could lead to positive surprises down the road for shareholders. It's impossible to guess which of the companies might benefit, but it's not as hard to see which are trading at the lowest levels, based on their price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratios. (In my opinion, a PEG below 1 makes a stock a good value.)

So, here are the four of those 17 publicly traded companies that are cheapest relative to earnings ranked by PEG:

  • Honeywell (HON): 0.30 based on a P/E of 19.8 on earnings forecast to grow 66% to $3.67 in 2011.

  • Dow Chemical (DOW):0.73. P/E: 23.8; earnings +32.4% to $2.44 in 2011.

  • Boeing (BA):0.87. P/E: 13.8; earnings +15.8% to $4.62 in 2011.

  • Cisco Systems (CSCO):0.88. P/E: 14.4; earnings +16.4% to $1.63 in 2011.

With stocks hitting their highest level in years, these four may have further to run.

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