In case you haven't noticed, our old friend volatility is back again. Through the first six trading days of October, a historically volatile month for the stock market, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) has delivered single-day points declines (when rounded) of 36, 53, and 46.
For those investors fixated on point values rather than percentages, the start of October has all the making of a stock market "plunge." The S&P 500 has shed an aggregate of 83 points in a six-day span, and it's nearly 115 points lower than where the index closed in mid-September. Concerns about weak manufacturing data, the persistent trade war between the U.S. and China, and the inverted yield curve, have some folks talking about the dreaded "R" word: recession.
Putting the market's recent "plunge" into perspective
But there are a couple of things you should certainly keep in mind if the latest stock market hiccup has you concerned. First, these "hiccups" tend to be pretty common. Over the previous 70 years, there have 37 corrections in the S&P 500 totaling at least 10%, not including rounding. That's one every 1.9 years. Drops in the market of 5%, similar to what we're experiencing now, are even more frequent. This is the price of admission, so to speak, for long-term wealth creation.
That brings me to the next point: long-term investors rarely suffer lasting damage from stock market corrections. Though you're going to be wrong on some of the individual stocks you buy, it's important to recognize that each and every correction in the stock market has been eventually erased by a bull market rally. Patience, time, and diligence are the keys to succeeding over the long run.
Lastly, it's never a bad idea to have a strategy in place to curb your concerns when these inevitable corrections and hiccups in the stock market pop up. When investor fear builds and emotions drive the stock market lower in the near-term, here are three investment ideas that can thrive.
1. Buy basic-need good and service companies
The first consideration for investors is to buy businesses that provide a basic-need good or service that isn't impacted by the ups and downs of the U.S. economy. Some really basic examples include detergent and toothpaste, which are going to be bought by consumers regardless of how well or poorly the economy is performing.
In terms of top-performing basic-need stocks, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) might be worth a closer look as a healthy hedge during times of volatility. NextEra is the largest electric utility in the U.S. by market cap, and also happens to be a global leader in wind and solar energy generation. These renewable projects haven't been cheap, but it's put NextEra on track to be low-cost producer for a long time to come.
On the other side of the coin, NextEra's traditional electric generation business is regulated. This mean NextEra can't raise its prices without the approval of state-based energy commissions. However, it also means that the company isn't exposed to volatile wholesale pricing, and its cash flow is highly predictable.
Since homeowners and renters don't change their electricity usage much as a result of fluctuations in the economy, NextEra is the epitome of a defensive basic-need stock that can thrive in a volatile market.
2. Consider low-volatility, established, brand-name businesses
Admittedly, not every company provides a basic-need good or service. However, that shouldn't disqualify brand-name stocks from being purchased during periods of heightened volatility. Businesses that provide steady profits, pay a dividend, and offer low volatility can be especially profitable when the tide turns.
Take telecom giant AT&T (NYSE:T) as an example. I simply say the name AT&T and investors worldwide yawn. It's a relatively boring business model with a low-to-mid-single-digit growth rate that's buoyed by its wireless division and content options, such as DIRECTV. But during periods of heightened volatility, and over the long run, boring is beautiful.
The barrier to entry in the wireless space is exceptionally high in the U.S., meaning AT&T only has a few major competitors and pretty healthy market share. Its wireless division is also looking at an exciting infrastructure upgrade cycle that'll see the rollout of 5G networks really ramp up in 2020. Since data is AT&T's margins driver, 5G networks could provide years of higher-margin growth. Assuming AT&T can also monetize its Time Warner acquisition into juicier advertising rates and more streaming subscribers, this boring business could be on the verge of getting considerably more exciting.
And did I mention it offers a 5.4% yield, which is more than triple the current yield of a 10-year Treasury bond?
3. Seek out a safe-haven stock
A third way to thrive during a stock market correction is to buy a safe-haven asset stock. For instance, when uncertainty or worry build in the stock market, investors will often turn to gold as a store of value. This is why it's known as a safe-haven asset.
But buying gold, or any commodity for that matter, tends to underperform the stock market over longer periods of time. Plus, physical assets like gold don't offer a dividend. That's why it might be a smart idea for investors to consider buying a company that produces a safe-haven asset, such as gold.
As an example, British Columbia-based SSR Mining (TSX:SSRM) is a company that's sitting on net cash of almost $207 million, which is pretty incredible considering that most gold and silver mining stocks are saddled with debt. SSR Mining expects production at its flagship Marigold mine in Nevada to grow by about 30% to 265,000 ounces of gold per year by 2021 or 2022, and has seen its Seabee Mine deliver record gold output year after year.
Also, after recently acquiring Golden Arrow's 25% joint venture stake, SSR Mining also now owns a 100% stake in the Chinchillas silver mining project in Argentina. Though still generating a significant portion of revenue from the gold market, SSR Mining now has recurring silver revenue that allows it to benefit from a robust economy, too.
The next time to stock market "plunges," keep in mind that there are alternatives that can allow investors to thrive.