Brian Richards and I wrote back in March that we thought the dollar might be doomed. That was because:
1. The United States has a massive and growing deficit.
2. The United States continues to generate significant trade deficits.
3. The United States has become oh-so-willing to print money out of thin air to meet its increasing obligations.
The more things change ...
Fast-forward, and our willingness to print and spend has only increased. None other than Warren Buffett put the nail in the dollar's coffin in a recent New York Times editorial.
He wrote, "Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory" and concluded that "unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar's destiny lies with Congress."
Lies with Congress? If you know anything about Congress -- I used to work in the political game -- then you know for sure now that the dollar is doomed.
This should be worrisome news if you earn a dollar-based salary, keep a dollar-based bank account, or invest in dollar-denominated U.S. stocks and bonds. Why? Because as the dollar declines in value, so will all of your earnings, savings, and investments. And that's scary stuff.
The good news for you is that the dollar's decline in value over time won't happen in a vacuum. In order for the dollar to decline, other world currencies must rise in value against it. That means there are a few ways you can protect yourself -- and even profit -- from the dollar's decline.
First, consider companies such as Total
Some currency candidates
Our Motley Fool Global Gains international stock research team believes that the currencies that stand to benefit most are those that are tender in countries that 1) are big and stable enough to offer a credible alternative to the U.S. for countries that are looking to stash their trade surpluses, 2) have significant natural-resource assets that will become more and more in demand over time, or 3) both.
Thus, candidates include the Brazilian real, the Indonesian rupiah, the Chinese yuan (should it become freely convertible), and the Chilean peso.
What we don't know, however, is how this all will all play out. So rather than bet on just one of these currencies, we recommend that you buy a basket of stocks that will get you exposure to all of them. Thus, even if political instability triggers a decline in the rupiah or the new sol, you have sanctuary in diversification.
With that last point in mind, I'm going to give you the name of my No. 1 dollar protection stock -- one that I consider a "buy" in our Global Gains service. But before I do that, know that this stock is not the silver bullet. Indeed, to properly protect yourself and position yourself to profit, you need a globally oriented portfolio of stocks that will give you exposure to a variety of currencies and markets.
But this stock is a great place to get started ...
My No. 1 dollar protection stock
Philip Morris International was spun off from Altria in early 2008 to hold all of Altria's foreign cigarette businesses. This includes those in Canada, Latin America, and Europe, and even a joint venture with China National Tobacco.
Today, the company makes about 48% of its sales in the EU; 23% in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; 19% in Asia; and 10% in Latin America and Canada, though I'll note that the company's European exposure is coming down over time since growth has been more rapid in the company's emerging markets.
And while the company's earnings have recently been dinged by a strong dollar, earnings going forward should benefit from a significant currency tailwind as the dollar declines against many of the other currencies Philip Morris does business in. Add on a dividend yield near 5%, and this stock will not only protect your savings from the dollar's decline, but should also beat the market going forward.
Looking for more ideas
This is just one of the ways we're helping our Global Gains members protect themselves against a falling U.S. dollar and gain exposure to emerging international markets, which we expect will grow much faster than the United States over the next decade.
To see the rest of our ideas, including plays on Indonesia, Brazil, and rural China, click here to grab a free 30-day guest membership to Global Gains. There is no obligation to subscribe.
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This article was originally published on August 28, 2009. It has been updated.
Tim Hanson is co-advisor of Motley Fool Global Gains. He owns shares of Philip Morris International, which is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. CNOOC is also a Global Gains pick. Total is an Income Investor selection. If the Fool's disclosure policy were written by Congress, it would be 50% less effective and about 1,000 pages in length.