Where to Invest for a Trade War: Goldman's View

As increasingly protectionist rhetoric and trade policies from the White House spark retaliation overseas, fears over an impending global trade war have shaken up the market, sending shares of some of 2017's highest-flying companies such as Boeing Co. (BA) on a downward spiral. While investors gear up for another bumpy quarter, one team of analysts on the Street recommends buying shares of companies with large domestic sales exposure during this period of heightened global trade tensions. (See also: 5 Stocks Poised to Win in a Down Market.)

On Wednesday, a day after the Trump administration detailed its list of Chinese imports it plans to slap with tariffs, China announced its own tariffs on 106 U.S. products ranging from soybeans and cars to aerospace and defense. Many of America's biggest exporters saw their stock prices fall early on Wednesday, just as analysts at Goldman Sachs had warned in a note to clients back in July. 

"One potential risk to our central case is that global growth slows, or profits are hit, by increased US tariffs on trade and the possibility of an escalating global trade war," wrote Peter Oppenheimer, Goldman's chief global equity strategist and head of macro research. “Below the surface of the market, trade conflict would benefit the performance of the most domestic-facing U.S. stocks relative to the most foreign-facing firms.”

Goldman's Picks Includes CVS, Verizon, Wells Fargo

The investment bank's domestic sales basket list, updated as of Mar 1, includes consumer companies CVS Health Corp. (CVS) and Dollar General Corp. (DG), railroad operator CSX Corp. (CSX), fintech software company Intuit Inc. (INTU), telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), real estate company Public Storage (PSA), and beaten down bank Wells Fargo Corp. (WFC).

Also this week, in an interview with CNBC, the Goldman strategist indicated that even as the market falls back into correction, "it is difficult to see the triggers for a recession anytime soon." Oppenheimer pointed to high corporate profitability as hedging against a major crash, considering "it is really a recession or fear of profits falling that is the usual trigger for a sustained bear market (in stocks) and we don't see those risks as being very high."

Without interest rates and inflation expectations rising significantly, investors shouldn't have to worry about a prolonged period of falling equity prices, according to Goldman. (See also: Goldman Computer Model Warns Bear Market Is Near.)