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Three Stocks to Brave a Government Shutdown


The end results of a government shutdown likely include a rating downgrade of the nation or a debt crisis. However, you can turn the odds in your favor by investing in stocks that are well positioned to combat this situation and move ahead.

This article was originally published by Zacks.com.

The government is now in a partial shutdown as a result of the battle over federal budget, Obamacare and the debt-ceiling. The existing federal budget ran out of money Monday night and the debt ceiling expires in about two weeks, but still no negotiations are in sight.

Congress failed to endorse by the midnight deadline the bill voted (231-192) by the Republican-led House in a rare Sunday session. The purpose of the bill primarily is to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year.

On the ceiling front, President Obama and Senate Democrats also vowed non-acceptance of opponent demands. The House Republicans are claiming certain priorities in return for their approval of raising the nation's borrowing limit. But the Obama administration is even unwilling to sit at the negotiation table.

This disagreement in raising the debt ceiling carries intense economic implications as the government will not be able to meet its financial obligations, including interest payments on debt.

The end results of a government shutdown likely include a rating downgrade of the nation, similar to Standard & Poor’s grade cut a couple of years back, or a debt crisis. Whatever the case, the battle is now bad enough to jeopardize the improving market sentiment.

Primarily, the debt ceiling issue could make borrowing expensive for the U.S. firms, thereby throttling their business activities and depressing stock prices.

However, you can turn the odds in your favor by investing in stocks that are well positioned to combat this situation and move ahead. These stocks are bound to plunge if the border market crushes, but their recovery will be quicker than others.

Before suggesting a few rewarding stocks of that category, let’s get the hang of the method to track them.

Prioritize low leveraged stocks

You must check the financial leverage of a company before investing in it. Companies with low financial leverage can recover faster as these depend less on external borrowings for capital expenditures. So companies with very small debt-to-equity ratios should fare well even if the market faces a debt crunch.

Look for reinvestment ability

Earnings power is a key factor in this strategy. Low-leveraged companies that are able to generate higher profits on each dollar of sale should have the flexibility to reinvest in their operations. So a healthy operating margin is necessary to reduce dependence on the debt market.

Bank on effective equity utilization

Analyzing the efficacy of employed investor money should be the next step in narrowing down your choice. Companies with higher return on equity ratio (ROE) indicate better utilization of equity base to generate earnings performance.

Three stocks ready to endure debt crisis

I ran a screen for companies with the following parameters:

1. Debt-to-equity ratio less than 1% — this captures stocks that have a low degree of financial leverage.

2. Operating margin greater than or equal to 35% — this identifies those stocks that have the flexibility to reinvest their pure profits as their costs are under control.

3. ROE greater than or equal to 25% — this picks out stocks that are generating over 25% earnings annually by utilizing their equity base.

4. Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2 — this ascertains stocks that have shown above-average returns over the last 26 years.

Here are the top three stocks among the seven that made it through this screen.

FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (FLT)

Headquartered in Norcross, Ga., this provider of fuel cards and workforce payment products is my best choice.

Debt-to-equity ratio = 0.46%

Operating margin = 35.2%

Trailing 12-month ROE = 28.5%

FleetCor will also likely deliver a positive earnings surprise when it releases third-quarter earnings on Nov 4, as it has a combination of Earnings ESP of +1.06% and a Zacks Rank of #1.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ)

This specialty biopharmaceutical company is my second choice. The company is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Debt-to-equity ratio = 0.47%

Operating margin = 40.7%

Trailing 12-month ROE = 28.6%

Pioneer Southwest Energy Partners L.P. (PSE)

Based in Irving, Texas, this developer of oil and gas properties comes as my third choice.

Debt-to-equity ratio = 0.65%

Operating margin = 36.9%

Trailing 12-month ROE = 27.2%

Also, Pioneer Southwest is expected to deliver a positive earnings surprise in the third quarter, as it has a favorable combination of Earnings ESP of +5.26% and a Zacks Rank of 2.

Don’t be scared of a dip

These stocks are well positioned to deal with a debt crisis, but are bound to drop if the market crashes on heightened political drama. So these stocks may offer you a better entry point. In any case, these stocks will recover faster and better than others due to their self-sufficient sources of funding. However, a significant slump is a hint for staying away from buying them.

Also, it is safe to dig a little dipper into these stocks’ fundamentals that assure long-term gains. Let’s wait and see where the political battle ends up, but be prepared with this investment strategy.

The information supplied above by Zacks Investment Research Inc. contains opinions based on factual research which may or may not be accurate. Neither Zacks nor Intellisphere will assume any liability for losses from investment decisions based on this information.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as investment advice or as a solicitation to buy or sell any stock. Nothing published by Physician’s Money Digest should be considered personalized investment advice. Physician’s Money Digest, its writers and editors, and Intellisphere LLC and its employees are not responsible for errors and/or omissions.

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