Unless the current polls are wrong, or unless Mitt Romney turns things around soon, Barack Obama is likely to remain as President of the United States for a second term. How will this affect the market? More specifically, what should investors do to maximize their returns and minimize their risks if Obama is in the White House another four years?
Here's a rundown of the segments that could be most affected by an Obama win and which kind of stocks you should buy or sell as a result...
Stocks to buy
A double-edged sword for health care stocks -- There's little dispute that Obama's biggest effect on the stock market has been within the health care arena. The so-called Obamacare overhaul -- which mandates that everyone must have health insurance -- is going to create new paying customers for some industry players, but at the same time, greater regulation and tighter requirements could threaten the bottom line of other companies in the health care industry.
One of the benefiting groups are hospitals and health care plan providers such as WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG), Health Management Associates (NYSE: HMA) and Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC).
WellCare is a particularly compelling stock right now, largely because it's on the right side of the Medicare/Medicaid continuum. Medicare providers are facing slimmer margins as Obamacare requires the insurer for the country's senior citizens to do more with less. Medicaid, however, is going to be expanded in such a way that it'll fall right into the hands of providers such as Wellcare.
As for hospitals, large-scale charge-offs and write-offs will be a thing of the past once treatments for uninsured patients fades out.
Renewable energy is a top priority -- President Obama has also been a huge supporter of renewable energy, and it's widely expected he'll ramp up measures to encourage green-friendly energy if he stays in office for another four years. These arenas include wind, solar, geothermal and nuclear power.
That said, just because President Obama supports alternative energy companies doesn't mean every single one of them is going to become wildly profitable. Take Solyandra for instance. Despite the company's $535 million loan from the Obama administration, the solar panel maker still went under and defaulted on the loan. That's why investors should focus on alternative energy businesses that are already proven and profitable, but would still benefit from more accommodative green-energy policies.
A company like NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) comes to mind. The energy producer/wholesaler utilizes a variety of sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar to provide power to utility companies. In fact, the company is North America's biggest producer of wind and solar power, and it does so quite profitably. The company turned $15.3 billion in revenue last year into a profit of $2 billion.
Investors with a little more risk tolerance and looking for more upside may want to mull a pick like Fuel-Tech (Nasdaq: FTEK). The company makes large-scale equipment to cut back in the pollution being spewed out by factories and coal-fired power plants. It's not such a riveting business, but it is profitable and should be even more so as Obama raises the bar on carbon emission regulations.
An upside of stiff gun control -- Gun owners and enthusiasts have already made it clear they will rush to buy firearms and ammunition, should Obama be re-elected. The current President is for tighter gun control measures, and many fear it could become quite difficult -- if not impossible -- to acquire a handgun or rifle if Obama remains in office.
That puts gunmakers like Smith & Wesson (Nasdaq: SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE: RGR) in a prime position for a wave of increased revenue. Just don't get married to the idea. While the rush of gun sales may make for a nice quarter or two, that will be a tough act to follow for these two companies. And if Obama is successful at implementing tighter gun-control law, revenue for these companies could dry up significantly.
Stocks to sell...
The imminent death of coal -- On the flipside of President Obama's affinity for alternative energy is an agenda to wean the country off coal-powered electricity. It's the last thing already-struggling coal-mining companies like Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) and now-bankrupt Patriot Coal (PINK: PCXCQ) need. While a recent court ruling determined that the Environmental Protection Agency didn't quite have as much regulatory authority over the coal industry as it assumed it had, the anti-coal undertones are still clear.
Similarly, though many would argue that Obama has already instituted too much new regulation for already heavily-regulated arenas like energy and banking, its safe to assume more is on the way. Indeed, the National Federation of Independent Business estimates that all the new rules in the works could cost U.S. business well more than an extra $500 billion during the next four years if implemented. That's going to further crimp sectors like energy and banks, where regulation has already reached stifling levels.
Risks to Consider: The pre-election rhetoric and post-inauguration agenda don't always match up. In politics, nothing is ever absolutely certain. So while you should be aware of these potential outcomes and position your portfolio accordingly, also be prepared for unforeseen changes along the way.
Action to Take --> It's still too soon to count Romney out, but it's not too soon to start thinking about how a portfolio could be maximized for a Democratic victory this November.
These buying and selling ideas are the foundation for a specific investment plan. Some of these themes may require action before others. Firearm sales, for example, will likely surge shortly after a victory, before President Obama would have a chance to tighten gun control laws. Renewable energy stocks, on the other hand, may not benefit until the President has had time to implement green-energy incentives. Either way, investor action is likely to be merited sooner or later.