When both the snow and the temperature are falling, it is easy to feel blue. However, there are things you can do to protect your health and perk up your moods. Similarly, there are ways you can protect your portfolio from the winter blues by looking up specific industries and companies that profit by helping us cope with the winter months.

Not that any winter can be pegged as "typical", but what many Americans saw in 2010 dwarfed expectations. Experts reported as much as five feet of snow burying much of the nation - from Texas through the upper Ohio Valley, to the Mid-Atlantic Coast, and lower New England - in successive storms. (For more, see 5 Ways Winter Can Help Your Portfolio.)

IN PICTURES: 9 Simple Investing Ratios You Need To Know

Winter Power
Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE:GNRC) makes back-up power generation products. GNRC reported net sales in 2009's fourth quarter (ending in December) of $154 million, compared to $144.3 million in the third. Despite increased sales, profits were slightly off in quarter four 2009, dropping to $11.9 million from $14.3 million in quarter three.

Clearing Driveways
Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corporation (NYSE:BGG) is also into devices like power generators, but it has a separate division devoted exclusively to snow blowers. It profited from that division in the fourth quarter ending in December 2009, making $3 million based on net sales of $393 million. The previous quarter showed sales of "only" $324.6 million, and a net loss of $8.7 million. Company literature seems to indicate that BGG's snow blower team more than pulled its weight to increase the company's bottom line.

"In general," last year's quarterly report reads, "all lawn and garden product volumes were less than those in the same period a year ago, except for stronger snow blower shipments." (To learn more, see Footnotes: Start Reading The Fine Print.)

Melting Ice
Another of winter's hazards involves the way water turns to ice on the roads. One of the largest publicly traded companies making de-icing products is Kansas-based Compass Minerals International Inc. (NYSE:CMP), which produces salt and magnesium chloride for use by road crews and operates 11 production and packaging facilities worldwide.

CMP reported net earnings for 2009's last quarter of $62.5 million, on sales of $312.2 million. This was higher than the $25.7 million earnings in the previous quarter on sales figures of only $182 million.

IN PICTURES: 5 Tips To Reading The Balance Sheet

The Travel Bug
One would think that a growth industry during the winter months would be the airline industry. Snowbirds are usually eager to get away from the cold, ice, snow and darkness, and work on their tans beneath palm trees. But last winter, snow piled up around airports in many of the nation's major centers causing a huge number of cancellations. Continental Airlines Inc. has since merged with United Airlines to create United Continental (NYSE:UAL). American Airlines (NYSE:AMR) also took flights off the board - due in large part to a single-day record one-foot snowfall that closed down flight operations (and most of the rest of the area) at Dallas-Fort Worth International (AMR's home terminal).

Although it also had its share of cancellations in the midst of those storms, the best candidate appeared to be Houston-based Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV), which showed a solid profit over winter 2009-10 in spite of the weather.

For investment purposes, last year's results are just that - last year's. But in a troubled industry, consider that LUV reported $115 million worth of black ink in the last quarter of 2009, contrasted with a third-quarter 2009 net loss of $16 million. This was with revenues relatively constant in both final quarters at $2.6 billion. The profit figure brought the full-year profit for the airline to $99 million and enabled the carrier to extend its string of annual profits to 37 years. Even Brett Favre can't boast a streak that long!

The Bottom Line
Just as it's very difficult to gauge the weather three months or so in advance, it's challenging to determine with any clarity what will be the big winners among "winter" stocks. Remember, too, that this year's big winner is very seldom the big winner next year. Hopefully, though, the aforementioned stocks will give you some idea of what to look for to warm up your portfolio when temperatures plunge. (For more, see 5 Businesses That Rise As The Temperature Falls.)

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Lions And Diapers And Dows, Oh My!

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Building a Case for the Bulls: 3 Opinions

    These three big names are bullish on the economy. Are there good times ahead?
  2. Investing News

    A 2016 Outlook: What January 2009 Can Teach Us

    January 2009 and January 2016 were similar from an investment standpoint, but from a forward-looking perspective, they were very different.
  3. Markets

    The (Expected) Market Impact of the 2016 Election

    With primary season upon us, investor attention is beginning to turn to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
  4. Economics

    Why Commodities Aren't to Blame for Market Malaise

    Commodities are taking the brunt of the blame for poor investment performance. Are they the real villain?
  5. Investing News

    Will China Slip Into a Recession?

    The Chinese economy is an entanglement of many factors gone wrong: an overvalued, engineered stock market, slow GDP growth and a devalued currency. What happens next and what will be the global ...
  6. Investing News

    Is it Time to Buy Emerging Markets ETFs?

    Does the poor performance of emerging markets, particularly China, present a buying opportunity with ETFs?
  7. Products and Investments

    The Market in 2016: What Schwab Believes

    Schwab believes that central banks have stabilized the global economy and that small returns should be expected in 2016. Is the firm correct?
  8. Stock Analysis

    Are These the Best Stock Buys Right Now?

    The market is volatile but this presents opportunities. Here are a few to consider.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Best US Equity Sector Since Market Peak October 2007

    Find out about the best U.S. equity sectors since market peak in October 2007, how they became the best and what may happen if market conditions change.
  10. Economics

    The Marshall Plan and the Revitalization of Post War Europe

    The Marshall Plan helped revive the economies of Western Europe after WWII largely by reforms that created greater economic cooperation in the region.
RELATED FAQS
  1. When phase of the economic cycle tends to be strongest for companies in the retail ...

    The economic cycle has four phases. The expansionary phase occurs when the economy is growing. During this phase, cyclical ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the average length of the boom and bust cycle in the U.S. economy?

    The boom and bust, better defined as expansion and contraction, business cycles of the U.S. economy averaged 38.7 months ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. During what stage of the economic cycle should I invest in the telecommunications ...

    Later stages of the economic cycle are the best time to invest in the telecommunications sector. Late stages are characterized ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What can demographics tell us about present and future consumption trends and economic ...

    Demographics gives insight into future population growth, which can reveal present and future consumption trends and economic ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What role does credit play in the economic boom and bust cycle?

    A great deal of economic literature has been written about the nature of economic cycles, and it has usually led to even ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the typical factors that cause the economy to repeat a boom and bust cycle?

    Not all experts agree about the causes of the business cycle. Most seem to agree that repeatable booms and busts result from ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  2. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  3. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  4. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  5. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  6. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
Trading Center