It’s certainly never a dull moment in the markets these days — or anywhere else for that matter. It’s hard to pick the best stocks with all these headlines tugging them in all different directions. The Chinese economy is slowing down to sub-6% growth. Brexit negotiations are in shambles. President Donald Trump’s political troubles are growing. Europe is putting the brakes on quantitative easing.
The markets are understandably having trouble processing it all. One day China-U.S. trade talks are rallying stocks, but the next day, there’s talk of a global recession and stocks are tanking.
This is when you need quality stocks that aren’t wrapped up in all these issues. This when you need stocks that are moving on trends that are beyond much of this market volatility
The 10 best-of-the-best stocks for 2019 that I feature below are the kind of stocks I’m talking about. All are top-rated picks in my Portfolio Grader and will not only be shelter from this storm but great long-term growth companies as well.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) should be no surprise at the top of this list.
The U.S. economy is driven by the consumer — about 70% of our economy is consumer driven. And few companies are focused on the consumer like AMZN.
Plus, Amazon has a “growth over profits” philosophy that has served it well, even when analysts had their doubts. It means that AMZN is already laser focused on making money in low-margin businesses and fueling its growth with higher-margin enterprises like its Amazon Web Services cloud services division.
It commands a significant premium, but given its track record through tough times, it’s well deserved.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has stuck to its knitting, unlike many of the other FAANG stocks. While it lost nearly 26% in the past three months, NFLX is still up an impressive 42% year to date. This is where the headlines may mislead some investors.
There’s no doubt that FAANGs like Netflix have been hammered. But the fact is, they’re still some of the best performing stocks in the market today.
What’s more, NFLX stock is continuing to grow its subscriber base in high-potential markets like India, where economic growth isn’t as volatile and barriers to entry are lower than in say, China right now.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) is my favorite integrated energy company right now. One key reason is that it’s well diversified across oil and natural gas operations.
While oil has been a victim of overproduction and prices are low, natural gas prices are on the rise. And with winter coming to the Northern Hemisphere, demand is growing in Europe and Asia, where prices are significantly higher than in the U.S.
COP stock recently acquired more natural gas reserves in Canada, so it continues to expand its business in stable countries with hungry markets.
Up 18% year to date, this is solid energy pick that you can count on for the long haul.
Ecopetrol SA (EC)
Ecopetrol SA (NYSE:EC) is the top Colombian integrated energy company. It has upstream operations — exploration and production — as well as midstream (pipelines) and downstream (refining) divisions for its oil and natural gas reserves.
EC has been operating in Colombia since 1948, but Colombia has had its ups and downs over the decades.
In the past few years, new leadership has brought its long-standing civil war to an end and the drug cartels are significantly less influential. This has meant that the economy is recovering and the middle class is expanding.
EC is a stable energy player in South America, delivering strong growth and a solid 3.5% dividend.
Abiomed (NASDAQ:ABMD) is part of the medical device megatrend that is underway across the globe.
ABMD makes the world’s smallest heart pump. It was started by the doctor who invented the first artificial heart.
Today, it has a $14 billion market cap and is gaining business at a rapid pace because it’s a much better alternative to costly surgery and other procedures. When healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s companies like ABMD that benefit the most.
That explains why, in this tough market, ABMD is up 71% year to date. And there’s still plenty of headroom left.
Veeva Systems (VEEV)
Veeva Systems (NYSE:VEEV) is a cloud provider that operates in a niche space — life sciences.
While you may think about the cloud as simply some remote storage facility that allows people to access information from anywhere, it’s more complex and nuanced than that. It has tiers of access and layers of analytics as well as customer resource management tools and productivity applications. And few sectors need a specialized cloud solution more than life sciences.
With all the regulations, the drug approval process and managing pipelines, as well as research, distribution and marketing, a focused and cohesive system built around these needs is very valuable.
That’s why VEEV has taken off in recent years. It’s up 67% year to date and has plenty of growth left.
China Petroleum & Chemical (SNP)
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (NYSE:SNP), or as it’s better known, Sinopec, is China’s leading energy company and one of the top five energy companies in the world.
That’s not bad for a company that isn’t even 18 years old at this point.
Obviously, energy is a key component to the world’s second-largest economy’s economic growth. And it needs a secure source of oil and natural gas because relying on OPEC can get dicey, given the power and influence of the U.S. in the Middle East.
Sinopec is the tip of the spear for China’s energy independence. And there’s little reason to think that Sinopec’s importance is likely to fade in coming years. As a matter of fact, China’s moves into the South China Sea would suggest that energy exploration and production efforts are growing.
Up a respectable 13% year to date, it also throws off an impressive 5.6% dividend.
CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) is a telecom provider that has been around since 1930.
It’s not one of the major players and is more of a player in smaller markets where it can hold sway in rural communities and small towns. It considers itself the second-largest U.S. communications company to global enterprise providers. Basically, that means it’s a major player in the enterprise level marketplace. And this is the focus of the business moving forward.
The consumer market is losing its allure, especially as the mobile age takes over. CTL is now focused on finding its most valuable revenue sources and cutting its low- and no-margin businesses.
At worst, CTL is a good takeover play. At best, there’s a lot of growth and a solid 12.6% dividend to buy your patience.
Square (NYSE:SQ) would be a fourth grader if it was a human. Yet Square is already a company with a $26 billion market cap and global reach.
SQ stock is up 81% year to date.
That’s a lot of success in just a few years. Granted, Square’s payment processing solutions were up and running before the company went public. And while SQ stock is firing on all cylinders, the financial industry has also started to take its fintech game to the next level, turning mobile banking into a significant force.
The crazy thing is, that its 81% return this year also includes a 30% slide in its stock price during the last three months.
Given the fact that SQ is a game-changer for small- and medium-sized business and there is a lot of untapped growth in these sectors, it is in a great position for the unfolding fintech evolution.
Shopify (NASDAQ:SHOP) is a major player in helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed online. It not only helps people build out their sites, but it also delivers tools to help people manage inventory, develop marketing, track payments and track shipping.
It’s an all-in-one small business system in the cloud.
This niche is growing very quickly as people are looking for extra income, exploring turning a hobby into a business or looking to grow the market for their existing business.
At this point, there are more than 600,000 businesses powered by SHOP that are doing more than $82 billion in sales.
The stock is up 45% year to date and has weathered the stormy market. That should continue for years to come.
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