Since I do not manage any client assets in my financial planning practice, I am, at best, a knowledgeable “outsider,” using only basic stock-picking expertise. When I was at Clemson, one of my professors, who made no secret of the fact that he did quite well in the stock market, gave me a nugget of advice – select those industries that would profit most in the current economic cycle and then chose the best-run companies in that business sector.
It doesn’t take a financial genius to understand that the health care industry is one that will profit greatly in the second Obama administration, and the only problem is how best to invest in that sector. Stocks such Pfizer and United Healthcare have experienced dramatic gains since the passage of Obamacare, and both stocks are likely to continue to experience price gains in the future. The problem with investing in individual stocks is that it is difficult to obtain any diversification, but since we are dealing with two stocks in the same sector, diversification is not that big of a deal.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the leading health sector performing fund in 2012 has been the T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund (PRHSX), which has rung gains of more than 35 percent this year and a 10-year return of 14.7 percent. The expenses of the fund are 0.82 percent, below the industry average for funds of this type. If you are interested, check out the holdings of this fund and discuss it with your investment adviser.
Another sector that should profit in the next four years is the home construction industry. This sector doesn’t typically utilize college graduates, and the income levels for journeymen craftsmen are quite good. Stimulating this sector will not lead to job outsourcing overseas. Moreover, growth in home building has a tremendous multiplier effect since home construction requires building materials of all types. The simplest way to invest in this sector is by purchasing a fund, such as the I-Shares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund.
Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been actively engaged in what has been referred to as quantitative easing, which, according to Investopedia, refers to a “government monetary policy occasionally used to increase the money supply by buying government securities or other securities from the market. Quantitative easing increases the money supply by flooding financial institutions with capital, in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity.” The real estate sector has benefitted from this policy since many of the securities that have been purchased by the Feds support the real estate industry. A fund such as I-Shares Real Estate Fund (ITB) might be the way to go.
More than a few industry pundits are high on the financial services industry, since most Americans have curtailed profligate spending and reduced their household debt. As a result, credit card use is on the rise, and MasterCard (MA) is the leader in credit card transaction processing. As credit card usage continues to increase, MasterCard will further increase its revenues and profitability. Finally, MasterCard is not sitting on its hands but has begun to move into e-commerce payments and prepaid cards. All of this strategic positioning, coupled by its move into emerging markets, bodes well for its future increased profitability and stock appreciation.
Greg Roberts is a certified financial planner with 35 years of financial and estate planning experience.