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Two FTSE 100 dividend stocks I’d buy before Christmas

Rupert Hargreaves
Smiling diverse couple holding Christmas presents while walking through a winter forest

The FTSE 100 is full of bargains right now, and one company that stands out to me is Carnival (LSE: CCL).

The cruise operator has had a mixed year in 2019. Hurricanes in the Caribbean, volatile fuel prices and the reinstatement of a travel ban between the United States and Cuba have all weighed on the company’s earnings.

Falling earnings

Indeed, at the beginning of the year, City analysts were expecting the company to report earnings per share of around $4.80 for 2019. But after factoring in all of the above, analysts are forecasting earnings of just $4.20 for the year.

Nevertheless, growth is projected to return in 2020. With this being the case, I think now could be an excellent opportunity for investors to snap up its shares at a highly attractive price.

Right now, shares in Carnival are changing hands at just 6.6 times forward earnings, its lowest valuation in five years. What’s more, more shares in the world’s largest cruise operator also support a dividend yield of 4.9%.

The company is also returning cash to investors with share buybacks. Over the past six years, Carnival has acquired around 10% of its outstanding shares.

So all in all, considering the company’s low valuation, market-beating dividend yield, and the potential return to growth next year, I think it’s worth buying Carnival before Christmas.

Turnaround taking shape

Another FTSE 100 income stock I’m interested in right now is Standard Life Aberdeen (LSE: SLA). Just like Carnival, Standard Life’s growth has ground to a halt over the past 12-24 months. As a result, the market has been quick to dump the shares.

However, over the past six months, signs of a turnaround have started to materialise. While the company’s third-quarter results showed a slight dip in adjusted pre-tax profit to £280m for the first six months of 2019, down from £311m in the same period last year, assets under management increased 5%, jumping from £552bn at the end of last year to £578bn this year.

This is good news because it seems to suggest outflows from its funds have slowed. And while profits are still falling, the fact investor outflows have slowed indicates a recovery could be taking shape.

I think we will see the first signs of a full recovery next year. For that reason, I would buy Standard Life before Christmas. 2020 will be a big year for the group as it’s planning to complete the integration of the Aberdeen Asset Management business and achieve cost savings of at least £350m.

When the integration is complete, management can concentrate on returning the enlarged group to growth, and I believe this plan will start to take shape next year.

In the meantime, investors can sit back and enjoy the dividend yield of 7% that shares in the financial services group currently offer.

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Rupert Hargreaves owns shares in Carnival and Standard Life Aberdeen. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Carnival. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Motley Fool UK 2019