Investing in the stock market is tricky business. Any investment you make runs the risk of losing value, wasting your time, and potentially destroying your life savings. Stock market investment during economic turmoil can be even riskier than usual and is certainly not for the faint of heart. But fear not fellow investor, many stocks and other investment vehicles perform well during difficult economic times and could put your nest egg back on the fast track towards making money.
Green energy and alternative fuels have been slowly growing in popularity for several decades. Recent spikes in oil prices have moved this sector into the mainstream and positioned several green energy pioneers for strong growth in 2009 and beyond. First Solar Inc. (Ticker:FSLR) designs, manufactures, and sells solar power modules and is a strong proponent for renewable green energy. With revenues over $1 billion last year and virtually no debt First Solar is a strong contender for reaping the benefits of any spending by the Obama administration on green energy. Sunpower Corporation(Ticker:SPWRA) is another big player in the green energy market and shares many characteristics of First Solar. Low debt, strong demand, and a focus on solar energy production makes both companies good choices for investment.
One sure bet in any economic environment is that people gotta eat. Restaurants are often one of the first victims of discretionary spending cuts but the agriculture industry which supplies not only restaurants, but also grocery stores, biofuels, and even clothing tends to fare far better. A good example of this resilience is the Powershares DB Agriculture ETF (Ticker:DBA) which sits unchanged from the price seen back in 2007. This ETF attempts to track the price of a basket of common commodities including corn, soybeans, and wheat. With global populations soaring and only limited farmland available agriculture is one of the few industries expected to show growth in 2009. This investment does not come without risk as evidenced by the dramatic rise and fall of commodity prices in 2008 but strong fundamentals in the agriculture industry make this ETF worthy of consideration for any savvy investor.
Across other industries many stellar performers stand out. In telecom AT&T(Ticker:T) continues to crush competition and grow subscribers while also increasing operating margins and dividend payouts. AT&T is beginning to reap the benefits of a new fiber optic service called U-verse which offers digital TV and internet service for a price that makes cable companies cry. In the materials sector Praxair(Ticker:PX) shines. Praxair primarily produces and distributes industrial gases to commercial clients. While this may not sound glamorous to those of us not working in the synthetics industry Praxair’s profits have been anything but dull. After announcing Q4 profits which topped analyst estimates Praxair also hiked the dividend by over 6% for 2009.
While it may be impossible to predict general stock market movements some investments are far less murky. These five stocks and funds all show strong balance sheets, solid revenue streams, and are well positioned to grow in a recession. Do your portfolio a favor and check out these stellar performers for 2009.