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Tickers in this Article: HD, LOW, GT, HON, WNI, AMR, DAL
The days are growing shorter, and the weather outside will soon be frightful, as fallen leaves give way to freezing rain and snow squalls. But like the ants who prepared for the winter - and unlike the grasshopper that ignored advice - those who look ahead can find ways to build their nest eggs by tracking the companies that help them prepare for winter weather. (For more, see 5 Ways Winter Can Help Your Portfolio.)

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Winterize Your Home
The need to ensure that wind, snow and cold do not penetrate windows, shingles and eaves troughs sends folks to big box hardware stores. Consider Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW), which annually goes into battle with the formidable Home Depot Inc. (Nasdaq:HD). Both pride themselves on selling materials that help the home withstand the rigors of winter, while reducing fuel bills and cutting stress.

In the quarter ending in January 2010, LOW reported $10.1 billion in sales during the quarter, a year-over-year jump of 1.8%. While this doesn't hold a candle to the $14.4 billion in sales for the quarter that expired midway through 2010's summer (when folks are thinking more lawn and garden than snow blower and space heater), it's a pretty fair achievement in a tough economy.

HD, for its part, experienced Q4 sales of $14.6 billion, a 0.3% decrease from the Q4 of fiscal 2008. In the summer, though, sales came in at $19.4 billion during the second quarter of 2010, due mostly to do-it-yourselfers building things in ways they couldn't during the winter. (For more, read 9 Ways To Save On Winter Bills.)

Winter-Ready Your Car
However warm your digs are, you occasionally have to leave them and get in the car, provided your vehicle starts and performs well once running. Companies catering to the snow tire and engine winterizing markets include the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:GT), which reported fourth-quarter 2009 sales of $4.4 billion, up 7% from the same quarter of 2008. That's only a shade less than the $4.5 billion in business it did in Q2, 2010.

Honeywell International (NYSE:HON), makes Prestone Anti-Freeze, vital to keeping your vehicle running during the winter months. Fourth-quarter 2009 sales for Honeywell came in at $8.1 billion versus $8.7 billion in 2008. Second-quarter 2010 sales were up 8% over the same quarter last year, reaching $8.2 billion.

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Keep Colds at Bay
Another winter concern is keeping our body's engine in top condition. Many people take vitamins and supplements to improve nutrition, fight colds, and even offset the depression that is often brought by the short, dark days of winter.

Consider Schiff Nutrition International Inc. (NYSE:WNI), which develops, manufactures and sells branded and private label vitamins, nutritional supplements, and sports nutrition products. WNI displayed third-quarter net sales of $53.3 million, an improvement over $49.9 million in the same period of fiscal 2009. This compares favorably with the $49.3 million total in the quarter ending in May - a month when things are starting to warm up, and folks can get their vitamins from an increased availability of fresh foods and sunshine.

Follow the Sunshine
Finally, why not flee the frost by flying to sunnier climes? Even if you can't afford a flight, you can still send your investment dollars skyward by investing in the airlines that transport winter-weary travelers. American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE:AMR) and Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE:DAL) are among those offering flights to southern hot spots. However, AMR reported a $344 million net loss for 2009's final quarter and still has some catching up to do.

Atlanta-based DAL is the world's second-largest airline in terms of passenger traffic. The latest reporting period for DAL ended last September, where the carrier showed a net income of $929 million (excluding special items) - an $878-million improvement year-over-year - or $1.10 per diluted share.

The Bottom Line
So, batten down the hatches and make sure you're ready for winter. And remember, while the season makes special demands of us, it also offers opportunities for building wealth - provided you know where to look. (For more, see Home Winterizing Tips That Work.)

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