American Poverty: Companies With Exposure to Low-Income Families

As a result of the current debt ceiling turmoil, Americans can look forward to a slate of budget cuts, sometimes cheerlessly referred to as austerity measures.

It is still unclear where the budget cuts will fall, although substantial budget cuts to social welfare programs have been one of the prevalent topics. It is looking increasingly likely that the fiscal conservatives who wield significant power in the majority-Republican House of Representatives will be able to include cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, among other programs, as part of a debt package.

A recent proposal from Speaker of the House John Boehner proposes "$1.8 trillion in savings, expected to come largely from government benefit programs and entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid," according to David Rogers of Politico.

This is gloomy news for American families in dire straits who are some of the biggest beneficiaries of government spending. Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse compiled a list of 10 horrifying facts about the current situation of the poorest members of American society. Here are a few of the lowlights.

  • Only 58% of Americans currently have jobs.
  • The poorest 50% of all Americans own only 2.5% of all the wealth in the U.S.
  • 21% of all children in the US were living below the poverty line in 2010.
  • Over 44 million Americans are on food stamps. Nearly half of them are children.

In a press conference Tuesday, new IMF head Christine Lagarde warned that "drastic cuts in spending" could lead to a "jobless recovery" (via the BBC).

The report adds, "Ms Lagarde warned that while a package to cut the U.S. deficit was essential, quick cuts in spending could damage the economy."

If Lagarde's assessment is accurate, then low-income families could be in for increased hardship.

In light of this sullen news, here is a list of companies that serve the shopping, health care, and financial needs of low-income families.

List sorted by market cap. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT  ) : Discount, Variety Stores industry with a market cap of $187.41B. It does business in six strategic merchandise units across several store formats, including discount stores, supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. Its grocery merchandise consists of a line of grocery items, including meat, produce, deli, bakery, dairy, frozen foods, floral and dry grocery, as well as consumables, such as health and beauty aids, household chemicals, paper goods and pet supplies. Its entertainment merchandise contains electronics, toys, cameras and supplies, photo processing services, cellular phones, cellular service plan contracts and prepaid service. Its hardlines merchandise consists of fabrics and crafts, stationery and books, automotive accessories, hardware and paint, horticulture and accessories, sporting goods, outdoor entertaining and seasonal merchandise. Its apparel merchandise includes apparel for women, girls, men, boys and infants, shoes and jewelry. Its health and wellness includes pharmacy and optical services. Its home includes home furnishings, housewares and small appliances.

2. Dollar General (NYSE: DG  ) : Discount, Variety Stores industry with a market cap of $11.09B. It is a discount retailer. As of February 25, 2011, the company operated 9,414 stores located in 35 states, primarily in the southern, southwestern, Midwestern and eastern United States. It offers a selection of merchandise, including consumables, seasonal, home products and apparel. Its merchandise includes national brands from manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, Kimberly Clark, Unilever, Kellogg's, General Mills, Nabisco, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, as well as private brand selections. It offers its merchandise at everyday low prices through its convenient small-box (approximately 7,200 square feet) locations.

3. Family Dollar Stores (NYSE: FDO  ) : Discount, Variety Stores industry with a market cap of $6.43B. It operates a chain of more than 6,800 general merchandise retail discount stores in 44 states, providing consumers with a selection of priced merchandise in neighborhood stores. Its merchandise assortment includes consumables, home products, apparel and accessories, and seasonal and electronics. Family Dollar store is between 7,500 and 9,500 square feet. Its stores are located in urban, suburban, small town and rural markets. Its stores operate on a self-service basis, and its low overhead enables it to sell merchandise at a moderate markup.

4. AMERIGROUP (NYSE: AGP  ) : Health Care Plans industry with a market cap of $3.54B. It is a multi-state managed health care company focused on serving people who receive health care benefits through publicly funded health care programs, including Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid expansion programs and Medicare Advantage. As of December 31, 2010, the Company provided a range of products to approximately 1,931,000 members in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and New Mexico.

5. Cash America International (NYSE: CSH  ) : Credit Services industry with a market cap of $1.7B. It provides specialty financial services to individuals through retail services locations and through electronic distribution platforms known as e-commerce activities. These services include secured non-recourse loans, commonly referred to as pawn loans and unsecured consumer loans. Its consumer loan portfolio includes short-term single payment loans, longer-term multi-payment installment loans, credit services and participation interests purchased from third parties in the micro line of credit (MLOC) services channel.

6. EZCORP (Nasdaq: EZPW  ) : Specialty Retail industry with a market cap of $1.69B. It is a provider of specialty consumer financial services. It operates pawn stores in the United States under the EZPAWN and Value Pawn brands, and in Mexico under the EMPENO FACIL and EMPENE SU ORO brands. It also operates short-term consumer loan stores in the United States under the EZMONEY brand and in Canada under the CASHMAX brand. As of September 30, 2010, the Company had 390 locations in the United States.

7. Avista Corp. (NYSE: AVA  ) : Diversified Utilities industry with a market cap of $1.51B. It is an energy company engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of energy, as well as other energy-related businesses. It operates in two business segments: Avista Utilities and Advantage IQ. Avista Utilities generates, transmits and distributes electricity and distributes natural gas. It also engages in wholesale purchases and sales of electricity and natural gas. Advantage IQ, provides energy management programs and services for multi-site customers and utilities throughout North America. Its other investments and operations include real estate investments investments in technology venture capital funds and low income housing.

8. 99 Cents Only Stores (NYSE: NDN  ) : Discount, Variety Stores industry with a market cap of $1.42B. It is a retailer of primarily consumable general merchandise. It offers customers an assortment of consumer goods, as well as a variety of quality, closeout merchandise, at a discount from standard retail prices. Merchandise sold in its 99 Cents Only Stores is priced at or below 99.99 Cents per item. As of April 2, 2011, the Company operated 285 retail stores with 211 in California, 35 in Texas, 27 in Arizona, and 12 in Nevada. It also sells merchandise through its Bargain Wholesale division at prices generally below normal wholesale levels to retailers, distributors and exporters. Bargain Wholesale represented 3.1% of the Company's total sales in fiscal 2011.

9. Dollar Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: DLLR  ) : Credit Services industry with a market cap of $546.8M. It is an international diversified financial services company serving primarily unbanked and under-banked consumers. Through its retail storefront locations, as well as by other means, such as via the Internet, it provides a range of consumer financial products and services in five countries, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Ireland and Poland, to customers who purchase some or all of their financial services from the Company rather than from banks and other financial institutions. Its products and services, principally its short-term consumer loans, check cashing services, secured pawn loans and gold buying services, provide customers with access to cash for living expenses or other needs.

10. Advance America, Cash Advance Centers (NYSE: AEA  ) : Credit Services industry with a market cap of $527.85M. It is a non-bank provider of cash advance services in the United States. As of December 31, 2009, the Company operated 2,553 centers in 32 states in the United States, 21 centers in the United Kingdom, and 13 centers in Canada, and had 71 limited licensees in the United Kingdom. Cash advances are typically small-denomination, short-term, unsecured advances that are due on the customer's next payday. It does not provide pawn lending, title lending or similar services.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Andrew Dominguez does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.

The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo, Wal-Mart Stores, and Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Kellogg, Wal-Mart Stores, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and AMERIGROUP. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo. 

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