Inflation, while it has declined a bit from its peak a few months ago, is still higher than it has been in the past 40 years. The Federal Reserve looks ready to keep hiking interest rates, and gas prices appear likely to rise again as OPEC prepares to cut oil production. Even the most experienced investors have reason to feel unclear about what's going to happen next.

With the S&P 500 down 12% so far in 2022, many investors are doubtless wishing they could find some safe-haven assets to pick up that could help shield their portfolios from whatever turbulence might be around the corner.

Well, some such stocks exist.

AT&T (T 1.17%) and ExxonMobil (XOM 0.26%) have been through economic tempests before and come out the other side of them as strong as ever. Moreover, they both have tremendous growth potential. If you have $1,000 to invest and a long time horizon for holding onto your investments, now would be a great time to tap into their potential and let them help fortify your portfolio.

Vignette of $100 bill.

Image source: Getty Images.


Telecom giant AT&T could very well be one of the original "widow and orphan" stocks -- a stable company that provides a high-yielding dividend, making it a suitable holding for investors who can't tolerate much risk. 

While AT&T previously strayed from those roots, it is once again laser-focused on its core business, and riding a hypergrowth trend that will provide years, if not decades, of growth.

AT&T tried to be too many things to too many people, and in so doing lost its way. But with the spinoff of its entertainment division into Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this year, it has put itself back on a path toward long-term expansion. The nationwide rollout of 5G networks will dominate management's attention, not only because the infrastructure investments necessary are costly, but because consumers are reacting to this high-inflation environment.

Yet the telecom's services still appeal to those consumers. It has in recent years added millions of customers to its various plans even as its chief rival, Verizon, lost ground. That didn't save AT&T's stock from tumbling after management cut its cash flow forecast for the year, because that shift called into question the sustainability of its dividend, which at the current share price yields a lucrative 7.3%.

On the other hand, now that AT&T stock has lost 24% of its value over the past three months, investors have a great opportunity to buy in.

AT&T just reported third-quarter earnings that handily beat Wall Street's expectations for the third consecutive quarter on even greater customer additions (it brought another 708,000 postpaid customers on board and 338,000 new fiber customers) as free cash flow of $3.8 billion remained stable. CEO John Stankey had said as much at an investor conference last month, suggesting that the telecom giant's shares might not remain at such bargain levels for much longer.


We don't hear much talk about "peak oil" now that has it become clear that there's far more oil and natural gas that can be cost-effectively extracted than was previously believed. New technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling allowed extraction companies to reach deposits that were previously unavailable, and for a brief period, the U.S. became the world's largest exporter of fossil fuels. Integrated operator ExxonMobil made significant investments in its upstream, downstream, and midstream assets, and has been a beneficiary of all of these changes.

In the current situation, though, with only limited new drilling happening domestically and global geopolitical events causing worldwide energy shortages, ExxonMobil and other oil and natural gas producers are benefiting from higher prices as demand is elevated and growing. According to energy intelligence firm Rystad Energy, global exploration is near an all-time low and new awards are at a 20-year low.

"It is clear that oil and gas companies are unwilling to take on the increased risk associated with new exploration or exploration in environmentally or politically sensitive areas," said Aatisha Mahajan, Rystad's vice president of analysis.

ExxonMobil, for example, has reduced its projects to just the most profitable ones, such as in Guyana, a country the oil giant hopes to turn into a top-10 producer. Management believes Guyana could produce as much as 1 million barrels of oil per day by the end of the decade. Guyana will be a significant part of the company's projected capital spending, which management pegs between $20 billion and $25 billion annually through 2027. By focusing on just its best projects and maintaining strict cost controls, ExxonMobil has pushed its natural gas realizations and refining margins well above their 10-year historical ranges.

ExxonMobil also pays a dividend and has raised its payout for 39 straight years. Today, it's booking record profits, and with strong energy demand forecast to continue, investors who buy in now can expect at least another 40 years of income security.

Editors note: A previous version of this article stated that ExxonMobil would spend between $20 billion and $25 billion annually through 2027 in Guyana. The piece has been changed to state that ExxonMobil's global capital spending is projected to be between $20 billion and $25 billion annually.