"If you need income and can afford to buy only one stock, Texas Utilities (NYSE, TXU, $39.875), which is rated A- for quality, could make a lot of sense, says Bill Staton, Money Advisory, Charlotte, N.C. "TXU has an unbroken string of 44 consecutive years of dividend increases. However, before you buy this stock, you should know the company had a $1 billion write-down last year because of an adverse ruling by the Texas Public Utility Commission, which is being appealed and will take years to settle. While I don't think the strain is unbearable, dividend growth will be slowed. With its 8 percent yield, we believe it's hard to lose with this issue."
Empire District Electricry
"My top income recommendation is Empire District Electric (NYSE, EDE, $22.875)," says Larry Roesch, The Roesch Market Memo.
"This rapidly growing, though relatively small electric utility, serves the Ozark region. The kicker to this overlooked stock is that its region is primed to become one of the top retirement and recreational areas in the nation. For the past few years, theaters have been opened in Branson, Mo., by Boxcar Willie, Mel Tillis, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers and dozens of other country music stars. . . . This very conservatively managed public utility offers the shareholder a 5.8 percent yield and appreciation potential."
Becky Barfield, First Boston, rates Checkers Drive-In Restaurants (CHKR, OTC, $24.50) with a strong buy.
"Based in Clearwater, Fla., Checkers is one of the fastest growing restaurant companies in the U.S. Since 1988, the company has grown from 14 to 138 stores, a 100 percent growth rate. Revenues have increased at a 144 percent rate. Currently there are 54 company-owned units and 84 franchises. . . . We are estimating 40 percent top-line and bottom-line growth rate over the next five years. . . . We have assumed only 2 percent comparable sales increases over the longer term, which we feel could be conservative."
"Income-oriented investors may want to consider USX-Marathon Group (NYSE, MRO, $23.25), which sports a generous 6.4 percent yield," says Irwin Yamamoto Forecast, Kahului, Hawaii. Marathon shares began trading separately in 1991.
"It has earned a worldwide reputation within the industry for exploration. In my opinion, the dividend is secure. Earnings per share should improve this year to $0.80 -- $0.85 from 1991's $0.72. Next year, we expect a sizable increase in profits, to $1.20 a share. At the present depressed level, you can pick up this stock with valuable oil reserves at a cheap price. While you wait for capital gains, you receive a handsome dividend. Buy."