Selecting Stocks During Recessionsby Eric Petroff
When investing in stocks during recessionary periods, the relatively safest places to invest are in high-quality companies with long business histories, as these should be companies that can handle prolonged periods of weakness in the market. For example, companies with strong balance sheets, including those with little debt and strong cash flows, tend to do much better than companies with significant operating leverage (or debt) and poor cash flows. A company with a strong balance sheet/cash flow is better able to handle an economic downturn and should still be able to fund its operations as it moves through the weak economic times. In contrast, a company with a lot of debt may be damaged if it can't handle its debt payments and the costs associated with its continuing operations. Also, traditionally, one of the safe places in the equity market is consumer staples. These are typically the last products to be removed from a budget. In contrast, electronic retailers and other consumer discretionary companies can suffer as consumers hold off on these higher end purchases.