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Stocks to love: Facebook, Dollar General, Alaska Air and more

Investing and romance may not go hand in hand. But finding attractively valued stocks with dependable sales and earnings growth can make some hearts go pitter-patter.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we decided to run a screen of the 1,500 companies in the blue chip S&P 500 index as well as the S&P 400 MidCap and S&P 600 Small Cap indexes to identify top stocks that are worthy of your devotion in a long-term portfolio.

Using software from Refinitiv, we looked for stocks trading at reasonable prices that had double-digit sales gains over the past five years and are expected to post earnings increases of at least 10% annually for the next few years.

We also made sure that the companies had relatively low debt loads and healthy return-on-equity levels to insure that the companies are as financially strong as possible.

Our screen whittled down the 1,500 companies to just 19. Here are some of the more interesting ones that made the cut. Consider it our Valentine’s gift to you. They may not be as sweet as chocolate or smell as good as roses but they can hopefully provide lovely returns over the long haul.

Eight stocks that could make your portfolio sweeter than candy

Facebook: Yes. We know what you’re thinking. How can Facebook, with all its scandals regarding election interference and regulatory calls to break up the company, make this list? Numbers don’t lie.

Despite the never-ending negative headlines, Mark Zuckerberg’s company continues to rack up strong earnings and revenue gains. And while the core Facebook platform may not be as cool as it once was, younger users still flock to Facebook-owned Instagram.

Applied Materials: This semiconductor equipment giant is a leading indicator for the health of the global tech industry. With top customers such as Samsung and Intel, Applied Materials is thriving thanks to booming demand for mobile devices.

Dollar General: Cash-strapped consumers are flocking to discount retailers like Dollar General. The company is also benefiting from turmoil at top rival Dollar Tree, which has come under fire from activist investors in the past few years due to poor sales.

D.R. Horton: The housing market is red hot, and that’s great news for builders like D.R. Horton. With the Federal Reserve unlikely to raise interest rates any time soon, mortgages should remain cheap. That could fuel even more demand for new homes.

Dentsply Sirona: Sure, SmileDirectClub may be imploding. But its poor performance is a reminder that many people require professional oral care. That’s great news for this leading supplier of X-ray machines, implants and other products for dentists.

Take-Two Interactive: The “Grand Theft Auto” and “Red Dead Redemption” games maker has outperformed Electronic Arts and Activision over the past few years. And with new consoles coming from Sony and Microsoft, more gains may lie ahead.

Qorvo: There is growing excitement about the potential for 5G iPhones coming soon. That should be great news for Qorvo, a top maker of chips for wireless devices that generated nearly a third of its total sales from Apple last year.

Alaska Air: Fare wars and rising fuel costs hurt poorly run airlines. But Alaska Air scores points for strong customer satisfaction ratings. And its merger with Virgin America in 2016 transformed it from a top regional carrier to a national powerhouse.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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