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5 Stocks Immune to Europe's Problems - views
MILLBURN, N.J. (Stockpickr) -- For the third consecutive summer, the global markets are reeling from the sovereign and banking debt crisis in Europe. This condition is exacerbated by the resultant ineptitude of its leaders to develop a swift, united and effective resolution.
As a result, assets are leaving the eurozone and seeking a safe haven in the U.S. The euro currency is being sold in favor of the U.S. dollar.
But there are secondary effects to domestic U.S. companies that we must consider. Many of these companies have significant operations overseas. The weaker economy is impeding sales and earnings in Europe, and the stronger U.S. dollar is further lessening the benefit from European operations.
Of course, there are some silver linings to the strong U.S. dollar. Many commodities that have a large currency component to their prices, such as crude oil and coffee, are falling.
One way to inoculate our portfolios from these European problems is with American companies that derive all or most of their revenues from domestic sales or sales in North America. With that in mind, here are five stocks with exclusive exposure to North America.
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Boston Beer (SAM), the nation’s largest public hand-crafted beer brewery, makes Sam Adams-branded beers and Twisted Tea hard iced teas. In 2011, Boston Beer finally captured 1% of the U.S. beer market, despite overall U.S. beer sales declining by 1.3% that year.
That’s because the craft beer industry is growing fast -- by 13% in volume and 15% in dollars in 2011.
Boston Beer was established on the East Coast of the U.S. but is expanding throughout the country. It recent acquisition of Los Angeles-based Angel City Brewing in January will create a West Coast base from which the company can further expand.
Boston Beer also shows up on a recent list of 3 Hot Stocks to Survive Summer.
Altria (MO) is what is left of the old Philip Morris Company after Philip Morris International (PM) and Kraft (KFT) were spun off several years ago. Altria is now primarily an American operation comprised of its domestic cigarette business, Philip Morris USA, which grows, manufactures and markets its cigarettes in the U.S.; U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which has 55% of the smokeless tobacco market shares; Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, a West Coast wine operation; Philip Morris Capital, a leasing unit; and a minority share in SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewery to Anheuser-Busch Inbev (BUD).
The foreign exposure to SABMiller and the financing business is not material to the company’s top or bottom line. To top it all off, Altria pays a 5% annual dividend, which I expect to be boosted later this year.
Altria shows up on recent lists of 9 High-Yield Stocks to Consider in Lieu of Bonds and 10 Century-Old Blue-Chip Stocks Still Earning Their Keep.
Consolidated Edison (ED), know to New Yorkers as Con Ed, is the largest utility company serving the New York metropolitan area with electricity, natural gas and steam power to residential, industrial, commercial and government customers.
The company’s cost of production has declined dramatically both from the reduction of input costs and the company’s investment in new technologies. Not only does Con Edison avoid foreign exposure, it actually benefits from the massive influx of foreign immigrants to New York City and the large presence of foreign diplomats tied into the United Nations. Those foreign expenditures are not going away despite the Eurozone problems.
If that is not enough, Con Ed has increased its dividend for 38 consecutive years and now pays a 3.9% annual dividend.
U.S.-based carrier Alaska Air (ALK) flies to destinations which are limited to the United States, Canada and Mexico. To a great extent, Alaska Air has a virtual lock on air travel to and from Alaskan destinations. The travelers to or from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Germany, France of the other EU nations is quite small on Alaska Air.
The company is also one of the few and most profitable airlines in the U.S. Fuel prices are declining, and Americans are traveling more than ever, especially by air.
I also featured Alaska Air recently in "7 Value Stocks to Buy in Facebook's Wake."
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) is one of the largest health care plan operators in the U.S. Unlike many other insurance companies which offer a wide variety of other insurance and investment products which can be impacted by the financial markets, UnitedHealth focuses entirely on health care plans including pharmacy benefit management.
Revenue and earnings per shares will grow at high single-digit percentage rates. The stock sells at 11 to 12 times current-year earnings. You don’t have to worry about what happens in Greece or Spain. The real wild card is how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the Obamacare lawsuit.
I am expecting the law will be nullified in whole or part. If that happens, the health care providers should benefit and we can get back to a health care system based on competition rather than government-mandated regulations.
To see these stocks in action, visit the 5 Stocks With Exclusive Exposure to North America portfolio.
-- Written by Scott Rothbort in Millburn, N.J.
At the time of publication, author had no positions in stock mentioned.
Scott Rothbort has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He is the founder and president of LakeView Asset Management, a registered investment advisor specializing in customized separate account management for high net worth individuals. In addition, he is the founder of TheFinanceProfessor.com, an educational social networking site, and publisher of The LakeView Restaurant & Food Chain Report. Rothbort is also a professor of finance at Seton Hall University's Stillman School of Business.