Investing with Impact: Today’s Most Promising Buy-Rated ESG Stocks

Here’s a question I once had, in case you do… What is ESG, and what does it have to do with stocks? 

ESG—which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance—is a standard focused on a company’s prioritization of environmental and social responsibilities. Scores are assigned based on those factors, and they can be crucial indicators of a stock’s long-term sustainability and profitability. 

This kind of investment can be a personal one but a wise one as well. Today’s ESG stocks show upside potential and solid metrics. Oh, and they pay dividends, too. 

Now I’ll lay out what makes these ESG-strong tickers worth a look. Let’s have that look now:

Gildan Activewear Inc (GIL) 

One business that stands out for me is Montreal-based Gildan Activewear Inc. (GIL) for having a substantial positive impact on jobs, taxes, and physical diseases. Last year, GIL launched its groundbreaking “Next Generation ESG” strategy, meant to address environmental and social issues. GIL strives to contribute to improving lives, safeguarding the environment, and fostering a sustainable economy. The recent “Gildan Respects” campaign unifies ESG efforts, highlighting GIL‘s commitment. 

GIL’s stock is currently up by 10.02% year-to-date with a 0.93 beta. It shows $3.16 billion in TTM revenue at $2.70 per share, from which it made $493 million with a 15.55% profit margin. GIL has an ROE (return on equity) of 26.23%, a forward P/E of 9.5x, a PEG (price/earnings/growth) ratio of 0.79x, and a P/S (price to sales) of 1.72x GIL has an annual dividend yield of 2.47% and a quarterly payout of 19 cents ($0.74/year) per share. With a 10-day average volume of approx. 744 thousand shares, GIL has a median price target of $38, with a high of $42 and a low of $35.54, representing the potential for an almost 40% jump from its current pricing. GIL has 10 buy ratings and 1 hold rating

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J B Hunt Transport Services Inc (JBHT) 

If ESG is important to you, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.’s (JBHT) stock could be an excellent opportunity to seize. JBHT has set an ambitious emission reduction target for 2034, focusing on expanding the use of biogenic fuels, introducing more alternatively powered equipment to their fleet, and enhancing diesel fuel. JBHT‘s goal aligns with the famous Paris Climate Agreement’s objective of limiting global warming to 2°C, and it’s on an urgent mission toward a sustainable future. 

JBHT is up ever-so-slightly YTD by 0.01%, its stock has a safe 0.91 beta measure, and it has a solid 26.20% ROE. JBHT has TTM revenue of $14.5 billion at $8.81 per share, from which it profited $923.8 million in net income via its modest 6.35% net margin. JBHT has a PEG ratio of 1.39x, a P/S ratio of 1.22x, a D/E (debt to 

equity) ratio of 32.69%, and is forecasted to report $3.4 billion in sales at $2.02 per share for the current quarter. JBHT has a 0.96% dividend yield and a quarterly payout of 42 cents ($1.68/year) per share. With a 10-day average volume of roughly 712 thousand shares, JBHT has a median price target of $193.50, with a high of $210 and a low of $162. This range suggests a possible 20% or more price increase. JBHT has 15 buy ratings and 11 hold ratings.

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Merck & Co Inc (MRK) 

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) has achieved much recognition for its sustainability efforts. MRK has been named one of Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies for the third consecutive year, securing the top position in the pharmaceutical industry. MRK’s overall ranking has notably advanced from 67th place in 2022 to an impressive 29th in 2023. MRK has been named an industry leader in the compilations “America’s Most JUST Companies” by JUST Capital and CNBC, as well as “America’s Most Responsible Companies” by Newsweek and Statista earlier this year. MRK’s stock is down slightly by 2.05% year-to-date and has a notably low 0.36 beta figure. MRK has TTM revenue of $57.8 billion at $5.11 per share, earning a net income of $13 billion via its 22.52% profit margin. MRK has an ROE of 29.71% and a PEG ratio of 1.10x, and it’s projected to report $14.4 billion in sales at $1.85 per share for the current quarter. MRK most recently beat analysts’ EPS and revenue projections by margins of 4.76% and 4.98%, respectively. MRK has a dividend yield of 2.69%, a quarterly payout of 73 cents ($2.92/year) per share, and a 55.47% payout ratio. With a 10-day average volume of 7.31 million shares, MRK has a median price target of $127, with a high of $135 and a low of $102, representing a potential 24% price jump (from where it currently sits). MRK has 20 buy ratings and 7 hold ratings.

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