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Friday, February 12, 2010

Stocks for the snowbound

There has been a lot of talk about all this snow and its affects on the government, people and the economy.

Will the snow closures hurt the economy?

Will not working send some people and families further into the red with the loss of potential income?

If it keeps congress and the president from passing any more legislation putting us further in the hole, is $100 million dollars a day to close the federal government worth it?

All noble questions, but not ones I am looking for answers to.

I got into wondering which companies, stocks might benefit from all this snow.

The other day, InvestorPlace published an article on just this sort of subject. They had a couple stocks that I was going to write about.

United States Natural Gas (UNG)
This cold weather stock isn’t actually a stock; it’s an exchange-traded fund (ETF). It is United States Natural Gas (UNG), an ETF designed to replicate the performance, net of expenses, of natural gas. The logic for UNG is simple. The colder it is outside, the more we need to heat our homes and offices, and most of us do this via natural gas. The increased demand for natural gas should translate into higher natural gas prices. Of course, sometimes this simple logic isn’t quite that simple. Mainly because there are literally tons of natural gas resources right here in the US. But I suspect that if we continue having cold weather, as the experts predict, then the short term supply situation will begin to dwindle as demand becomes stronger. If this dynamic does take shape, it could mean a big surge in natural gas prices. But I am not as convinced that this will be the place to be in the long term.

Netflix (NFLX)
When it’s too cold to go outside, it’s time to stay in and watch movies. These days, most people get their movies from Netflix (NFLX). The DVD rental pioneers were darlings of Wall Street last year, with the stock nearly doubling in 2009. But fears of an inability to meet growth expectations going forward, along with several downgrades of the stock in recent weeks, have knocked NFLX shares well off their highs. But I suspect this pullback in the stock could actually represent a good buying opportunity in the shares, as Netflix will undoubtedly remain the dominator in the DVD rental space for quite some time.

The InvestorPlace article also mentioned a clothing manufacture. North Face.
Made and distributed by VF Corp, it is certainly a worthwhile choice.

My choice for outdoor wear was Wolverine.

Wolverine World Wide Inc. (WWW)
Back when we had our first of three big snow storms, Dec 19, I had a pair of old boots that I had probably purchased at a local payless store. They were really not the greatest pair of boots, especially considering the fact that the entire soles FELL OFF!

Needless to say, my wife and kids were inspired to purchase a new pair of boots. They found a pair of Wolverine boots which are absolutely fantastic. Through all this ice, snow, wind and cold my feet have been 100% warm and dry.

The Wolverine stock has recently pulled back a bit on price and is, in my opinion near a good entry point.

Of course, where can you buy all these good outdoor products?

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS)
In November, the company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on rising same-store sales. Dick’s attributed the rise in same-store sales to strong performance of both the North Face and Columbia Sportswear brands. The company also said the increased sales for these brands were likely due to fears of a harsh winter.

Well, we all know that harsh winter came to fruition, and it’s not over yet. As the cold winds continue blowing, look for more shoppers to continue visiting Dick’s Sporting Goods for all of their cold-weather gear.

And, speaking of shoppers...
Each and every time one of these big storms was fore casted and hit the area, stores such as Shoppers Food Warehouse, Giant Food Stores, Wegmans, Safeway, Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market Inc (WFMI) were absolutely packed with people buying all the essentials. Milk, Bread, Beer, Wine, Chips, Steaks, and TP.

One could invest in many of these individually or one could diversify with an ETF such as Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP)

And one final note on shopping, if, like many on the east coast, you were truly snowed in, you probably spent a fair amount of time online. And with a major holiday, Valentines Day, quickly approaching I bet many literally spent more online at places such as FTD or ProFlowers.

And don't forget about some of the other big name online retailers such as Amazon (AMZN), HSN (HSNI), and QVC.

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