We are in a bull market right now, with the S&P at all time highs, and the Dow near all time highs. So what sectors are working now? What are the long term trends worth investing in? (In this article, trends mean 3 years or longer.)
In 2002, there was an influential US Farm Bill, "The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002." Prior to this, according to a Forbes Article, " few stocks had big moves prior to the enactment of the 2002 farm bill. Consider AGCO (AG), which sells combines and other farm equipment. Over the course of the year prior to the May 2002 signing of the farm bill, AGCO's shares climbed 150%, vs. a 14% decline for the S&P 500. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Deere & Co. (DE), though not as frothy, also rose nicely in that time period." The push towards Ethanol is also another reason for the bull market in agriculture.
Jim Cramer prefers Deere (DE), who makes the agriculture farm equipment, Monsanto (MON), a biotech company that makes the seeds, and Chemical and Mining Co. of Chile (SQM), a fertilizer play in the agricultural sector.
Forbes likes companies such as Archer Daniels Midlands (ADM), AGCO (AG), and CNH Global (CNH), among many companies in the list they provide as beneficiaries of the farm bill.
Similar to the farm bill, the $287 Billion US Transportation-spending law in 2005 has been good to machinery stocks. Beneficiaries include companies such as Caterpillar (CAT), and Terex (TEX). As a bonus, companies like Caterpillar (makes of construction equipment), have international exposure as well.
In this area, Jim Cramer likes Foster Wheeler (FWLT) and McDermott (MDR). Foster Wheeler, "provides engineering and construction services to the oil and gas, oil refining, chemical/petrochemical, pharmaceutical, environmental, power generation, and power plant operation and maintenance sectors worldwide. It operates through two groups, Global Engineering and Construction Group (Global E&C Group), and Global Power Group." McDermott (MDR) "operates in three segments: Offshore Oil and Gas Construction, Government Operations, and Power Generation Systems."
Fluor (FLR), is another company in this area. Again, this sector also benefits from global growth.
4. Aerospace and Defense
All those old civilian and military planes need to be replaced. We are in the middle of long aerospace cycle. The main play is Boeing (BA), who benefits from the cycle and also from Airbus' troubles. Other companies in this area include BE Aerospace (BEAV), which manufactures and markets cabin interior products for commercial aircraft and business jets, Northrop Grumman (NOC), an aerospace and defense company, Embraer (ERJ), maker of jet and turboprop aircrafts for civil and defense aviation markets, and Transdigm Group (TDG), a 2 Billion Market Capitalized Company that "engages in the design, production, and supply of engineered aircraft components for use in commercial and military aircraft worldwide." Indirectly, companies such as Allegheny Technology (ATI), creator of specialty metals, benefits from this cycle, as newer planes need lighter materials to save fuel.
5. Oil, Gas, and Energy
Oil, Gas and Energy are in bull market mode because demand is high, and supply is low. The US and Emerging Markets need these to continue their fast growth. And supply is limited, so aside from oil, oil services company which do offshore drilling, supply services to oil companies, companies which search for oil, companies that make and manage offshore rigs are benefitting greatly.
Companies include integrated oil companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Conoco Philips (COP), oil services companies such as Halliburton (HAL), and Schlumberger (SLB), refiners such as Valero (VLO), offshore drillers such as Global Santa Fe (GSF) and Ensco (ESV), transport vessels for offshore oil services such as Tidewater (TDW), and oil services and rig companies such as National Oilwell Varco (NOV) and Transocean (RIG).
Gold, Copper, Silver, and other materials are in bull market mode. Once again, this is low supply, high demand. The US, as well as emerging and other international markets are growing! They have an insatiable appetite for these materials. Companies include Freeport-McMoran (FCX), a gold and copper company, and Jim Cramer suggests Lundin Mining (LMC) as well, as the runner up.
7. Telecom especially Emerging Market (Wireless) Telecom
Wireless use, and advanced telecom services such as mobile internet, are growing around the world. Products such as the Apple (AAPL) Iphone, and Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry help drive demand, and countries around the world are increasingly using these services. In the US and in Europe and in Japan, wireless penetration is reaching levels from 70-100%. However in Emerging Markets such as Mexico, and Latin America, wireless penetration is at much lower levels, and is expected to hit 60% penetration in the region only in 2010. That means that there is great opportunity and growth in this area. As an example, Mexican (and South American) telecom play, America Movil (AMX), still has a forward PE of only 15.51, and a 5 yr estimated growth rate of 31.6%, for a PE to Growth ratio of around 0.5, very cheap!
While AT&T (T) is a play on North America Telecom, the greater growth (at a reasonable price) is in emerging markets. Companies include America Movil (AMX), for Mexico and South America, NII Holdings (NIHD) for Latin America, Vimpel Communications (VIP) for Russia, China Mobile (CHL) for China, and Vodaphone (VOD) for Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa.
8. Mobile Convergence/Wireless Integrated Devices/Handsets
Mobile convergence, where different technologies such as voice, data, and video come together in a single handset, is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Leaders include Apple (AAPL) with their new handset, Research in Motion's (RIMM) popular Blackberry product, and other companies like Nokia (NOK). As new services emerge, the infrastructure to provide fast, high quality video on these mobile devices will play an important role.
9. Location Based Services
Location based services currently depend on GPS, the Global Positioning System. The companies which use these technlogies are doing well in the market, and will continue to do well, as anything that moves, from cars, with automatic navigation devices, to military weapons, to people holding mobile converged devices such as advanced cellphones will have GPS. Garmin (GRMN) is a company which provides Location Based Product devices. Navteq (NVT) is a company which provides the digital maps, and its competitor is a private company called Tele-Atlas. Sirf Technlogies (SIRF) makes GPS chips. Though it has struggled in the recent past, there are signs that the stock is stabilizing. Competitor includes Broadcom, who bought out their competitor Global Locate. Trimble Navigation (TRMB) is another company providing GPS systems. They even bought the company AtRoad, which tracks fleets of vehicles. Software maker MapInfo (formerly MAPS), was recently bought out by Pitney Bowes (PBI). Indirectly, telecoms will benefit, advanced handset makers will benefit, and companies such as Google (GOOG), may be prime candidates in creating location based service applications such as local GPS search supported by location based advertising. There is great growth in this industry!
10. Computer and Video gaming
Computer and Video gaming are in the middle of a strong cycle, as three major gaming consoles are out from Sony (SNE), Microsoft (MSFT), and Nintendo (NTDOY.pk). Sony also has the portable gaming device Sony PSP, and Nintendo has the portable gaming device Nintendo DS. Demographics also support growth as Generation Y is the 2nd largest group (after the Baby Boomers), and many people in Generation Y like to play games. There are many plays in this sector from Retailers (Gamestop (GME)), console makers (Nintendo (NTDOY.pk)), game makers (Electronic Arts (ERTS), Activision (ATVI)), graphic chip makers (NVidia (NVDA)), and gaming accessories (Logitech (LOGI)). More on this sector and analysis by the numbers here.
11. Online Gaming in Emerging Markets such as China
There is great growth in online gaming, especially in China. There is a growing middle class, and increasing broadband penetration (internet cafes included). In China and Korea, online gaming has become a very popular pasttime. Two good online gaming plays in China include Shanda Interactive (SNDA), and The9 Limited (NCTY) who has the right to bring World of Warcraft to China. Shanda Interactive has a free model where people can play the games for free, but pay real money for items in the game. Article on the Growing Online Gaming Market in Emerging Markets here.
12. Internet, Search, and Internet Video
The internet, the backbone of the major Information Revolution, remains strong. People need to find relevant information from all the data, and companies like Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) help do this. Google (GOOG), the groups bellwether company, even purchased YouTube, a popular internet video company. Baidu (BIDU) and Rediff (REDF) service both the Chinese and India markets. Brick and Mortar Retailing continues to be challenged by internet retailing spearheaded by Amazon.com (AMZN) and EBay (EBAY). Infrastructure companies, such as Akamai (AKAM), help make delivery of information better and faster.
13. International Emerging Markets
Emerging markets such as Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and China are in bull market mode. This trend will last more than a few years, and this would appear to be part of a much longer trend. Since many companies benefit, an investor could invest in a broad based Emerging Market Exchange Traded Fund such as ishares EEM, and Vanguard's VWO.
Other Sectors to Watch
Besides the sectors which are working well right now, there are other sectors worth watching. Some may start their run right now, while others may take more time to make their gains.
1. Optical Networking and Networking
More data is being placed on the internet, especially internet video. High Definition (which requires more bandwidth) will become more of a standard. Advanced services such as Internet TV (IPTV), and video demand will require much greater bandwidth. Eventually, the system will not be able to handle the demand for greater bandwidth. Next generation applications will require much greater bandwidth. Right now, even AT&T's top DSL Broadband package supports 6 Megabits per second (mbps). In Korea, broadband penetration is around 70%, and their internet speeds go up to 50 mbps, over 8 times faster than AT&T's top speed. The US is behind some countries such as Korea!
Optical Networking is a way to get much better download speeds. The best way to play this is througn Corning Glassware (GLW), who have the added benefit of servicing LCD and flat panel displays (another growth area). Ciena (CIEN) is an optical networking play. Speculative plays include $6 stock Level 3 Communications (LVLT) and $4 stock Finisar (FNSR).
I believe we are the verge of a breakout in the Optical area.
Obesity is a long term problem. Two possible ways to play this trend are through Weight Watchers (WTW) and NutriSystem (NTRI). NutriSystem looks like the good growth play right now.
3. Specialty clothing
Certain companies just have a special story and product. A good example is Crocs (CROX), maker of a very popular type of footwear. Other companies include UnderArmour (UA) and Gildan Activewear (GIL).
4. Long-Term Care Facilities
Parents of Baby Boomers and eventually the Baby Boomers may need to use Long Term Care Facilities such as Manor Care (HCR), Brookdale Senior Living (BKD), and Sunrise Senior Living (SRZ). We need to watch this group for better action.
5. Healthcare Information System
Eventually, healthcare needs to have integrated software systems. The companies which provide these solutions include Cerner (CERN), Allscripts (MDRX), and Quality Systems (QSII). While this is a growth area, we may have to study the companies carefully to determine the better play.
6. Specialty and Niche Product Companies
Companies which provide a specialty or niche product have a competitive advantage. Examples might be #2 Energy Drink Maker Hansen Natural (HANS), and robotic surgery company Intuitive Surgical (ISRG).
7. Gambling Companies
There is great growth in the gambling and gambling equipment industry. Macau, in Asia, is being transformed into the Las Vegas of the East, and many companies can benefit. If internet gambling (which has taken a hit based on some laws restricting them in the US) comes back, this group will grow even more. Some companies in the gambling and gaming area include Las Vegas Sands (LVS), and MGM Mirage (MGM). Gaming equipment companies include International Gaming Technlogy (IGT), Scientific Games (SGMS), and ShuffleMaster (SHFL).
8. Leisure and Entertainment
Baby Boomers are in their peak spending years which may finally peak in 2010, until Generation Y comes of age. Also, Generation Y, as represented by Generation Y reporter of TheStreet.com Cliff Mason, appears to be more willing to spend money on leisure and entertainment. During these periods, leisure and entertainment companies should benefit.
Companies in this sector include gambling companies and gambling equipment companies (as mentioned above), hotels and resorts such as Starwood Hotels and resorts (HOT), Cruise Ship Companies such as Carnival Corp (CCL), and companies such as Vail Resorts (VAIL) and food and restaurant companies such as Darden (DRI). Powershares ETF "PEJ" covers this area, and the companies in the ETF are listed here.
Some people say that water, and clean water, may be the next oil. An ETF which covers this area is powershares PHO, which holds companies such as Mueller Water Products (MWA) and Tetra Tech (TTEK).
10. Environmental Cleanup and Waste Management
Some companies have to cleanup our mess and all or waste including industrial waste, and radioactive waste. According to a Motley Fool article, the trends driving growth in this sector include growth in consumer spending on disposable items in growing populations. Also, there is a rise in industrial waste services as more companies utilize hazardous products in production facilities. There is a greater concern for the environment, so these companies will benefit. Companies in this area include Waste Management (WMI), Clean Harbor (CLHB), and American Ecology (ECOL).
11. Stock Exchanges
Stock Exchanges are in bull market mode. There is great consolidation in this area, and people speculate there may be only a few worldwide stock exchanges. Companies include the InterContinental Exchange (ICE), Nasdaq (NDAQ), New York Stock Exchange-Euronext (NYX), CME Group (CME), and Nymex (NMX).
12. Future Gen Y Plays: Housing, Automobiles, Weddings, Babies
Yes, housing is down right now, but we have to look many years into the future. Generation Y is a very large group, second only to the Baby Boomers. They will eventually (many years from now) be buying their first homes. They will also make other large purchases such as automobiles, and many will be getting married, and having babies. This sector trend will be good for companies in these areas, but we may have to wait many years to play these trends.
Through my research and experience, I found these bull markets. Jim Cramer mentions six wild bull markets, and those six are incorporated above (with my comments), and a long time ago, Jim Cramer also suggested looking into areas such as HealthCare Information Systems.