Elections are like stocks: Even when something seems like a sure thing, the end results can sometimes surprise you. And the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 3 is anything but a sure thing for either side.
Whichever way the election goes, it's likely that the results will benefit certain stocks and disadvantage others. But are there any stocks that are good buys now regardless of the election's outcome? We asked that question to three of our Motley Fool contributors. They came back with Brookfield Renewable (NYSE:BEP)(NYSE:BEPC), Newmont Gold (NYSE:NEM), and PTC (NASDAQ:PTC). Here's why these are their top picks now.
Big upside, fewer risks
John Bromels (Brookfield Renewable): Energy has emerged as one of the flash points of the current presidential campaign, with sharp differences in opinion between the candidates on energy-related subjects like the Paris Climate Accords, fossil fuel subsidies, and the viability of wind power.
Obviously, if Joe Biden wins the election, and especially if the Democrats retake control of the Senate, renewable energy stocks are likely to benefit. If Donald Trump wins, on the other hand, U.S. solar and wind stocks may take a hit. That's why I'm recommending a stock that seems to have the best of both worlds: Brookfield Renewable.
Brookfield Renewable is part of the Canadian Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM) family. It owns and operates renewable assets across the globe -- primarily hydropower but also wind and solar-generation facilities. It's been growing by leaps and bounds, with distributions to unit holders growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% over the last 20 years. That's unlikely to change no matter who wins the U.S. election: Management is targeting 12% to 15% total returns going forward and is projecting 15% to 20% returns on many of its projects.
Brookfield's global footprint would help to insulate it from potential unfavorable changes in U.S. energy policy. In 2019, less than half of Brookfield's energy generation occurred in the U.S., and the bulk of its U.S. generation was from hydroelectric dams, which aren't as controversial as wind or solar installations. Meanwhile, it's currently yielding 3.9%, which makes it a solid choice for dividend investors regardless of which way the election goes.
Dig it -- this gold dividend now looks a lot more lustrous
Scott Levine (Newmont Mining): Allegations of voter fraud, concerns that President Trump won't leave office if he loses, and questions about foreign interference are only a few of the issues looming over the upcoming election -- issues which are further complicated by the speculation that we may not even know who won the election long after the polls close. With so much uncertainty surrounding Election Day, it seems that gaining some exposure to gold is a wise move to make right now as the price of gold usually climbs during times of political uncertainty and volatility.
While there are a variety of options available to investors who want to add some to their portfolios, Newmont Mining, the largest gold mining company based on market cap, currently represents one of the most compelling opportunities. A quick look at the recent third-quarter 2020 earnings report may not seem very inspiring since the company came up short of analysts' revenue expectations, but dig below the surface and you'll find plenty of gold nuggets -- the most alluring of which is the raised dividend.
In its Q3 earnings presentation, for example, Newmont announced a 60% increase to the quarterly dividend per share from $0.25 to $0.40. Representing a forward yield of 2.6%, the dividend, payable to shareholders on Dec. 28, represents the highest distribution among gold mining companies.
Another attractive factor is the company's conservative approach to leverage. Executing development and exploration projects is a capital-intensive endeavor, so mining companies will often resort to weighing down their balance sheets with debt to finance their projects. In the case of Newmont, though, the company ended the last quarter with a strong balance sheet. After reporting Q3 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.55 billion, Newmont now has a net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 0.34. In terms of growth projects, Newmont is in the auspicious position of having the self-proclaimed "industry's largest gold reserves" of 95.7 million ounces, suggesting that it has ample glittering growth opportunities.
Growth no matter who wins the election
Lee Samaha (PTC): Whether under a President Trump or a President Biden, industrial companies are still going to be investing in smart factories, and the digital revolution will continue apace. That's where industrial software company PTC comes in.
PTC's core business right now (around 72% of revenue) is in computer-aided design (CAD) and product-lifecycle management (PLM). CAD enables engineers to design and create products through 3D software modeling, while PLM is the process of managing a product from conception through design, use, and ultimately disposal. PTC's management sees a high single-digit revenue growth opportunity for CAD and PLM over the medium term.
However, the really exciting growth opportunity lies in PTC's augmented reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, which management sees as growing at a 60% and 26% rate, respectively, over the medium term. AR allows technicians to service equipment without even being physically present, while PTC's IoT solutions are at the heart of the movement toward smart factories.
In a nutshell, PTC's solutions help connect physical assets to the digital world, so real-time data can be analyzed digitally in order to improve the performance of the physical asset. Similarly, companies can create "digital twins" of physical assets in order to model and predict performance. It's an exciting new world known as industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, and PTC stands at the forefront of this movement.
Having recently reported 2020 results, PTC's full-year 2021 guidance calls for 9% to 12% growth in average recurring revenue and free cash flow (FCF) of $340 million. Based on the FCF guidance, PTC trades on 28 times forward FCF -- a good value for a high-growth company set to do well even if President Trump isn't reelected.