So you made a huge boo-boo and decided to buy a whole bunch of energy companies in your portfolio because they are currently valued as "cheap" due to a high oil supply and low prices. It's simple economics; the supply of oil is extremely high and will be for quite some time so naturally the price of oil will stay quite low. Oil companies, like most other aspects of a portfolio, are very profitable to have for the long-term but are subject to lots of volatility over one's lifetime. At the same time, socially responsible portfolios tend not to include any petroleum-based energy companies, but rather encourage investors to check out solar, wind, hydrogen, or natural gas stocks. Unfortunately, low oil prices dampens these stocks as well because if oil prices are so cheap for the average consumer, why would they pay even MORE money for energy that accomplishes the same task.
Ultimately, low oil prices hurt the entire energy sector - not just the drillers. It's times like these when investors will look to either remove themselves from current stocks in energy (not recommended for beginners) and or look for an alternative sector to put their money to work. All is not lost when oil prices decline; here are a few sectors you should consider checking out to add to your portfolio that are not only benefiting from low oil prices, but should also get a substantial boost once the stock market turns around.
Airlines - I wrote a piece on this earlier about no matter what condition the stock market is in, so few investors and funds hold at least one airline stock. Low fuel costs save airlines massive amounts of money since they use massive amounts of fuel every day. At the same time, the industry has been increasing ancillary fees (like paying extra to check a bag or board the plane early) and seat fares have remained relatively constant. As such, last year and this year are expected to be record earnings years for airline stocks.
Shopping Malls - Discretionary spending, especially at malls, tends to get a massive boost during the winter months and especially when gas prices are low. This is because consumers are not all that committed to saving money and paying off debt at the moment, so in turn they will use the extra $20-$50 they save on refilling their gas tanks each week and go to the mall to either shop or watch a movie. Buying shares in a mall real estate investment trust (REIT) is a great way to diversify and cover all bases. Just bare in mind that consumers are not buying luxury items like crazy - this usually happens when unemployment is low and wages keep increasing. For the moment, small impulse buys are the targets of the consumer.
Gas Stations - You wouldn't think that this would be a likely choice since gas stations are making less money on the fuel they sell, but this is actually a direct play on the discretionary spending theme. Most people with extra cash left over from gas will spend it right away, and what better place than at a gas station? Since gas prices have declined, these locations have seen a pick-up in the buying of small items in their convenience stores, like drinks, cigarettes, candy, car parts, and food. These are definitely worth a look.
Fast Casual Restaurant Chains - The money that the average consumer saves per week in filling up their gas tank is not ususally enough to make an large purchase, but it is enough to treat themselves or their families to a nice dinner or lunch. Rather than going for fast food, they will instead dine at a "fast casual" location, such as Denny's, Red Robin, Sonic, Applebee's etc. In good economic times, they frequent these locations even more.
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