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3 Stocks to Buy With Rising Recession Risk, Increasing Geopolitical Tensions

Despite the bear market rally, the market is facing serious risks due to rising recession risk and increasing geopolitical tensions. Here are 3 defensive picks to help investors outperform in this tricky environment: Lockheed Martin (LMT), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), and Elevance Health (ELVH).

The stock market is in the midst of an impressive and blistering rally. From the mid-June lows, the S&P 500 is up 14%, while the Nasdaq Composite is closing in on a 20% gain. Some of the factors behind this rally are extreme bearish positioning, better than expected economic data, marginally positive news on inflation, and odds of a ‘soft landing’ that have increased from implausible to ‘pretty unlikely’.

Yet, it’s also very likely that this market action is a bear market rally rather than a new bull market. The Fed remains hawkish and focused on bringing down inflation even at the cost of a recession or damage to the jobs market. From a bottom-up perspective, we are seeing the most shorted stocks rise the most, while quality stocks are not participating in the rally, an indication that institutions aren’t participating. 

In addition to rising recession risk, the war in Ukraine continues to rage. Additionally, tensions are rising in the Pacific with China making aggressive overtures toward China. And, these have been recently inflamed further following Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. Amid this environment fo slowing growth and increasing geopolitical tensions, investors should consider buying the following 3 stocks. 

Lockheed Martin (LMT)

LMT is a security and aerospace company that has four segments: Aeronautics; Missiles and Fire Control; Rotary and Mission Systems; and Space. The company produces high-tech weapons and defense systems but is best known for its F-35 fighter jets. In addition to these services, LMT provides a wide variety of services for governments all over the world.

In terms of the current environment, LMT is an ideal selection to ‘beat’ the bear market. For one, government budgets and defense spending are much less volatile than other parts of the economy. In fact, defense spending, on a global level, has grown at about an average, annual rate of 5% over the last couple of decades with the only dip being during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 90s. 

Second, companies like LMT often receive long-term contracts and only have a few competitors given that these projects are quite sophisticated and require security clearance. They also tend to have large balance sheets and a long history of paying and raising dividends which also leads to outperformance during periods of economic turbulence.

LMT has an overall B rating, which translates to a Buy in our POWR Rating system. B-rated stocks have posted an average annual performance of 20.1% which compares favorably to the S&P 500’s annual performance of 8.0%. 

In terms of component grades, LMT has a B for Value due to its forward P/E of 14 which is cheaper than the S&P 500 (and less prone to negative revisions). It also has a B for Quality due to being one of the leading aerospace & defense companies. Click here to see more of LMT’s POWR Ratings.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX

VRTX discovers and develops small-molecule drugs for the treatment of serious diseases. Its key drugs are Kalydeco, Orkambi, Symdeko, and Trikafta for cystic fibrosis, where Vertex therapies remain the standard of care globally. The company also focuses on developing treatments for pain, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory diseases, influenza, and other rare diseases.

The company's cystic fibrosis drugs are poised to continue dominating the market for the foreseeable future due to the disease-modifying potential of the drugs, consistent use by patients, and very little competition. VRTX combination therapies also have lengthy patents, which protect its cystic fibrosis portfolio from generics. There is also potential for its non-cystic fibrosis pipeline, which has exposure to promising areas, such as AAT deficiency, sickle cell disease, and beta-thalassemia.

VRTX has an overall grade of A which equates to a strong Buy rating in the POWR Ratings service. A-rated stocks have posted an average annual performance of 31.1% which compares favorably to the S&P 500’s average annual gain of 8.0%. 

VRTX also has strong component grades including an A for Quality due to 11 out of 19 analysts covering the stock having a Strong Buy rating with only 2 having a Sell rating. It’s also regarded as one of the top companies in the space due to its dominance of the CF market and strong pipeline of potential, blockbuster treatments. Click here to see more of VRTX’s POWR Ratings.

Elevance Health (ELVH

ELVH is a managed care company, providing medical benefits to roughly 44 million members. The company offers employer, individual, and government-sponsored coverage plans. It is also the largest single provider of Blue Cross Blue Shield branded coverage. This sector has also been particularly strong due to a very low unemployment rate which means that the company has seen strong growth in enrollees. 

Further, the pandemic was a boost to its bottom-line as less people were going to the doctor and undergoing procedures. Therefore, the company’s payout ratio declined. Many analysts had been expecting an above-average reading as the economy normalized, but so far this has simply returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Another reason to like managed care stocks is their pricing power as healthcare spending tends to rise at a faster pace than inflation. And, they tend to be less affected by economic slowdowns. Currently, the company is seeing growth from its Medicare Advantage plans and virtual care services. 

With these attributes, it’s not surprising that ELVH has an overall grade of A, which translates into a Strong Buy rating in our POWR Ratings system. 

9 “MUST OWN” Growth Stocks

What makes them “MUST OWN“?

All 9 picks have strong fundamentals and are experiencing tremendous momentum. They also contain a winning blend of growth and value attributes that generates a catalyst for serious outperformance.

Even more important, each recently earned a Buy rating from our coveted POWR Ratings system where the A rated stocks have gained +31.10% a year.

Click below now to see these top performing stocks with exciting growth prospects:

9 “MUST OWN” Growth Stocks

ELVH shares rose $0.41 (+0.10%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, ELVH has declined -12.75%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Jaimini Desai

Jaimini Desai has been a financial writer and reporter for nearly a decade. His goal is to help readers identify risks and opportunities in the markets. He is the Chief Growth Strategist for and the editor of the POWR Growth and POWR Stocks Under $10 newsletters. Learn more about Jaimini’s background, along with links to his most recent articles.


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