One of the hardest things about dispensing financial advice in a crummy market is that you're often tempted to plant asterisks at the end of most stock picks.
- Buy restaurant stocks and retailers ... once comps turn positive.
- Buy tech hardware companies ... once corporate IT budgets begin ramping up again.
- Buy banks ... once the government proves it's not serious about nationalization.
There's not a lot you can do with that kind of investing advice today, so I'm going to offer up some stocks that are doing just fine in this environment. In fact, the dour economy may be helping their prospects.
Let's dig in, see if you agree, and then hand it over to you for more stock suggestions.
While many subscription services that are at the mercy of discretionary income are sputtering, Netflix has been growing its user base at breakneck speed. It crossed the 10-million-subscriber mark just six weeks after beginning 2009 with 9.4 million members.
The recessionary attraction to Netflix is obvious. Home-based entertainment is a big winner during economic lulls, as families avoid splurging on costly outings. With the recent wave of layoffs, there are plenty more -- hopefully temporary -- couch potatoes these days.
All of this plays right into Netflix's plan. Now that the company is also providing online streaming at no additional cost to active subscribers, it's the perfect value proposition in dire times.
2. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Since we're talking about value propositions, how would you feel about spending roughly $0.40 for a cup of premium coffee instead of having to hand over a lot more to a barista?
Green Mountain is tapping an economic sweet spot with its Keurig one-cup brewers, armed with its arsenal of 200 different flavors of K-Cup java fixes. If you're wondering where all of the Starbucks
The company was huge over the holidays, moving 711,000 of its Keurig brewers. That is more than double the units it sold a year earlier. The more consumers warm up to the convenience and cost savings of home-brewed premium coffee, the better it will be for Green Mountain.
3. American Public Education
For-profit online educators have been thriving in this climate, as the workforce is retooled for the future. Most of the public players, like Apollo Group
The company markets its degree programs to military personnel, who make up the majority of its enrollment base. Flexible class schedules and the attraction of Web-served academia are big winners for the educator. President Obama is suggesting cutbacks in defense spending and military personnel, and that will likely lead to an increase in ex-military members brushing up on civilian workforce skills. The stock isn't cheap, but analysts see revenue and earnings surging 42% and 44%, respectively, this year.
4. TASER International
Publicly traded gun and rifle makers have been on a roll lately. The primary catalysts are a combination of healthy quarterly reports and fears that the new administration will tighten the requirements for attaining new guns.
I have a different theory. I believe a good chunk of the flight to weaponry is the natural reaction to people arming themselves for an uptick in crime as the souring economy heightens desperation. TASER may always be a litigation target, but I like the stun-gun giant's chances for consumer weaponry, especially if conventional revolvers become harder to come by.
5. Life Partners Holdings
Death is an uncomfortable -- but inevitable -- subject. Life Partners brokers life settlements, essentially the buying of life insurance policies from terminally ill policy-holders at a discount.
Cashing in on a life insurance policy while one is still living has its advantages. Whether it's to personally deliver inheritances, satisfy current cash crunches, or just to check off a personal bucket list, viaticals aren't as morbid as they seem. Life Partners is a leader in this niche.
There have been recent legal challenges to the practice, but that also explains why a company that is actually growing its profitability soundly these days is trading for 10 times earnings.
Add on, by all means
How do you feel about my five recession-proof specials? Do you think you can do better? I'm sure you can. Head down this page and find the comment box. Use it to suggest stocks and investments that you feel will thrive in this dreary economic climate.
Let's make lemonades out of this lemon of an economy together.
Other ways to coast through recessionary pressures:
Starbucks is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Starbucks and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. TASER is a former Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Netflix shareholder -- and subscriber -- since 2002. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.