15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Joe Biden Presidency
In January, Joe Biden will become America's 46th president. These are 15 of the best stocks to own under the new administration.
The race has been called. Former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States come Jan. 20, barring some unlikely twist of fate.
He won't have a particularly easy job in front of him. Biden will be inheriting an economy struggling to find footing in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections. Adding the uncertainty of a new administration into an already wildly uncertain environment could be a recipe for some choppiness.
New administrations always bring a new set of policy priorities. And while President-Elect Biden has pledged to govern as a centrist, he's already made it very clear that he wants to "Build Back Better" with an emphasis on renewable energy and modern infrastructure.
"A Biden administration will mean more regulatory scrutiny for financial and energy stocks and probably higher taxes across the board," says Rodney Johnson, president of economic research firm HS Dent Publishing. "But there will be opportunities. Infrastructure spending, green energy and health care are all Democratic priorities and should do well under a Biden presidency."
And even though we won't know for sure until Georgia's runoff election, it looks like the Republicans will hold on to the Senate. This means that the Biden administration will need to reach across the aisle and negotiate on any major policy proposals. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it means any major policy moves will likely be broadly accepted and unlikely to ruffle too many feathers.
Let's look at the 15 best stocks to buy for a Joe Biden presidential victory. Some of these are fairly obvious winners, but some are contrarian bets you might not expect.
Data is as of Nov. 8. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price.
Martin Marietta Materials
- Market value: $16.0 billion
- Dividend yield: 0.9%
As mentioned a minute ago, a key plank of Joe Biden's platform is his "Build Back Better" plan, which includes pledges to "mobilize American manufacturing" and "build a modern infrastructure."
Biden might have to negotiate with a Republican Senate, but he's unlikely to get a lot of pushback on these particular issues. Both parties at least pay lip service to the need for a manufacturing renaissance and for investments in infrastructure.
"Infrastructure improvement and supply-chain reshoring of health care goods and other items deemed critical to national security likely will be pushed either by a split government or one led by the Democrats," WFII analysts say.
This brings us to Martin Marietta Materials (MLM, $256.18).
Martin Marietta is a building materials company that specializes in the materials used in large construction projects. Among other things, it makes crushed sand and gravel products, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt, and paving products and services.
A Biden win should help to speed along a major boost in infrastructure spending, making MLM one of the best stocks to buy for the new administration.
- Market value: $87.6 billion
- Dividend yield: 2.6%
If a boom in infrastructure spending is on the horizon, then it's hard to avoid Caterpillar (CAT, $161.29), the world's leading maker of construction and mining equipment. The company also diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.
You probably wouldn't want Caterpillar's equipment in your backyard. What would the neighbors say, after all? But if you're looking to start a major construction project, you're going to order from Caterpillar.
Caterpillar has traded in a range for the past few years, unable to get much traction. Weakness in emerging markets really took the wind out of the stock's sails.
But something interesting happened this year. Caterpillar tanked along with the rest of the market in February and March. But it not only recouped its losses in the rally that followed, it actually broke out of a three-year trading range.
Caterpillar is not purely a play on American infrastructure, of course. The company has a global presence and should benefit from a recovery in emerging markets as well.
- Market value: $68.6 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.3%
President-Elect Biden is serious about getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control. In his view, there can be no durable economic recovery until the virus has been tamed.
A major piece of that strategy will be the deployment of a vaccine once it's ready. And while it might not be fair to call this a Biden investment given that the push for a vaccine started under the Trump administration, it will inevitably be the Biden administration that implements it.
This brings us to Becton Dickinson (BDX, $236.62). Becton, a Dividend Aristocrat, is a manufacturer of medical instruments and supplies, including syringes. If you're going to administer potentially hundreds of millions of vaccines in the United States alone – and billions globally – you're going to need Becton and its peers to ramp up production of the equipment needed to make that happen.
What's more, it's not at all certain that a vaccine is a "one and done" event. It seems that immunity to COVID-19 following infection and recovery can last as little as only three or four months. This would suggest that, for a vaccine to be remotely effective, it will require regular boosters.
Well, that's a lot of syringes. And Becton will be there to deliver them.
Brookfield Renewable Partners LP
- Market value: $10.8 billion
- Distribution yield: 2.9%*
We'll start with Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (BEP, $59.11), which owns a portfolio of wind, solar, hydroelectric and other green-energy properties.
While Biden is less focused on environmental issues than many of his Democratic peers, environmentalism and sustainability are a big part of his platform. From his campaign website:
"From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being. … Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face."
Biden might have to negotiate with a Republican Senate, and it's extremely unlikely he'd have a strong enough mandate to force through the Green New Deal in its entirety. In fact, "even if Biden wins the White House and Democrats lead Congress, the combined opposition from the party's moderate wing and from Republicans should make it difficult to push through transformational fiscal programs, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All," writes the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
But it's still safe to assume that green energy and infrastructure will be a priority. That makes Brookfield Renewable Partners LP, the 60%-owned renewable-energy affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), one of the best stocks to buy for a Joe Biden presidency.
The U.S. government isn't exactly going to write Brookfield a check. But a rising tide lifts all boats, and increased spending in this space is likely to boost Brookfield's bottom line.
* Distributions are similar to dividends but are treated as tax-deferred returns of capital and require different paperwork come tax time.
- Market value: $148.3 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.9%
NextEra Energy (NEE, $75.72) isn't the most exciting company on this list. Or any list. For crying out loud, it's an electric utility. But unlike many of its peers, NextEra has a focus on renewable energy, which makes it interesting in the event of a Biden win.
NextEra serves approximately 5.5 million customers in Florida. But it is best known as the world's largest producer of wind and solar energy, as well as one of the largest battery storage company in the world. The company owns and operates wind assets generating close to 15,000 megawatts and has 140 megawatts of storage capacity.
This emphasis on green energy has made the company popular, ranking No. 1 among utilities in Fortune's 2020 list of Most Admired Companies.
For an electric utility, NextEra doesn't sport a particularly high dividend yield at just 1.9%. But that's just it: NextEra isn't a garden-variety electric utility, and you don't buy it for the yield. You buy it because it is a leader in green energy and a stock that is likely to catch the eye of social-responsible investors.
Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure
- Market value: $3.4 billion
- Dividend yield: 5.1%
For another play on green energy, consider Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (AY, $33.25).
It's hard to call AY a true "Biden stock." That's because it's not a pure play on the American Green New Deal – it's a British company with operations scattered across the globe, though some of those assets are in the U.S. But if you believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and that a massive wave of new investment in green infrastructure will likely boost all stocks in the sector, Atlantica is an interesting play.
AY has a diversified portfolio of renewable energy, natural gas and water assets and – importantly – virtually all of them are operated under long-term contracts. Atlantica's assets have a weighted average remaining contract life of 18 years.
In total, Atlantica's properties have the capacity for 1,496 megawatts of renewable energy, 343 megawatts of natural gas generation capacity, 1,166 miles of electric transmission lines and 10.5 million cubic feet per day of water desalinization assets.
Atlantica should enjoy a nice run under a greener U.S. administration. But apart from the potential capital gains, the stock also sports an attractive dividend yield at 5.6%. That's the sort of yield you'd generally expect to find in a traditional energy company, not a sustainable one.
- Market value: $9.4 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
Let's take a look at one last green energy play in First Solar (FSLR, $88.27). First Solar is a leading manufacturer of solar power systems. And, importantly in an age of pandemics and vulnerable supply chains, it's American.
China is the world's leading player in solar panel production. But the COVID pandemic has made many companies question the wisdom of a global supply chain that can fall apart when under stress. Add to that an escalation in anti-China sentiment – which is unlikely to abate much under a Biden regime – and you have the potential for FSLR to gain some serious market share. But policy will be key here, as solar panels have become something of a commoditized product. Any policy that reduces demand for cheaper Chinese parts will be a major boon for a homegrown producer like First Solar.
FSLR is a wildly volatile stock, and it's not cheap. The shares trade hands at 38 times trailing earnings and 2.4 times sales. Looking at estimates for 2021, the shares look a little more reasonable, trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 22. But that's still more expensive than its own historical average, so you should be careful here and keep your position size reasonable.
But if you believe that Biden is serious about pushing for a greener future, then green-energy plays like First Solar are among the best stocks to buy if he becomes president.
- Market value: $8.7 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
A Democratic administration likely would benefit green projects. But it would likely be good for, ahem, the other kind of "green" project.
Democratic politicians take a more relaxed view toward marijuana and are more likely to support soft drug legalization. Joe Biden does not publicly support marijuana legalization at the federal level – or at least, not yet. But given his support for criminal justice reform that would include decriminalization for marijuana use, it's not hard to see him coming around to full legalization over the course of a four-year term. At the very least, a Biden administration would likely be a lot more lenient in criminal prosecution for marijuana-related crimes.
This brings us to Canopy Growth (CGC, $23.50). Canopy is a leader in recreational and medical marijuana products in the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Like most marijuana stocks, Canopy became something of a bubble stock in 2018 and 2019. The pot bubble burst a little over a year ago, and the shares today trade for less than half their old highs.
We probably won't see a return to the bubble highs any time soon. But under a Biden presidency, don't be surprised if Canopy and other marijuana companies emerge as some of the best stocks across his term.
- Market value: $407.5 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
Returning to the green-energy theme, Tesla (TSLA, $429.95) is a natural beneficiary of a Biden presidency.
One of Biden's stated objectives is to make the United States the leader in electric vehicle production and acceptance. And while Tesla isn't the only game in town for electric vehicles, it's clearly the largest and best-known pure play.
Of course, it's not like Tesla needs Joe Biden to generate interest in its cars. Tesla is doing more than fine under a distinctly non-green Trump administration. CEO Elon Musk generates more press than most presidents, and TSLA shares have been on fire. Even after a considerable pullback, shares are up about 415% year-to-date, and Tesla is now the most valuable auto company in the world.
Is this an unsustainable bubble? It might be. But we have to say "might" because the shares have appeared to be expensive for years by traditional metrics and yet continued to run higher. So, regardless of who becomes the next president, you might want to tread carefully in Tesla stock. But a Biden administration would certainly push electric vehicles, and that can only help Tesla's bottom line.
- Market value: $2.2 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
Biden might be good for several electric vehicle stocks, in fact. That's why you might want to also consider the shares of Workhorse Group (WKHS, $17.29), which not only makes EVs, but electric delivery drones too.
Workhorse has a little bit of history, with roots going back to 1998. Also, its focus isn't consumer vehicles, but delivery vans. WKHS originally started by converting vans made by other manufacturers but transitioned to making its own original models in 2015 following a merger.
The potential here is obvious. The delivery business is booming during the pandemic, and that's not likely to change once life gets back to normal. Already, Workhorse counts United Parcel Service (UPS) and Ryder System (R) among its customers.
And a Biden victory could further smooth the road ahead for WKHS. Prodding and subsidies from a Biden administration would likely encourage companies to upgrade their trucking fleets to electric models. This sector would have strong tailwinds at its back with a green-oriented Democrat in the White House.
Along with much of the rest of its electric vehicle peers, Workhorse has been in a nasty correction since late September. This was a trendy sector in 2020, and prices clearly got ahead of themselves. So you might want to wait for the shares to bottom out and resume their uptrend before buying. This is a volatile sector and should be considered speculative.
- Market value: $329.7 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.4%
Joe Biden broke rank with many of his fellow Democrats by stopping short of promising "Medicare for all" or any sort of single-payer healthcare system. Instead, Biden has promised to provide a "Medicare-like" government option for health plans and to make private-sector plans more affordable and less complex.
We'll see how successful he is in that endeavor if he wins. The last several presidents certainly tried and failed to "fix" healthcare and it's still an expensive and complicated mess.
Regardless, a Biden win would be bullish for health insurers like UnitedHealth Group (UNH, $347.46). United Healthcare is particularly well placed because it specializes in Medicare supplemental plans. If Biden is successfully in providing a Medicare-type solution, there will be enormous demand for supplemental plans.
"With respect to Democrat Presidential Nominee Joe Biden's Medicare expansion proposal, (Avalere Health founder Dan Mendelson) estimates that nearly 23 million individuals would be newly eligible for Medicare," write Credit Suisse analysts.
Healthcare still is a political minefield, so be careful investing in the sector. But a Biden win could create a long runway for UNH.
- Market value: $20.4 billion
- Dividend yield: 4.8%
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) were an unintended casualty of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Trump's signature tax reform lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, which was great for traditional corporations. But it made special tax shelters like REITs less attractive by comparison. REITs are not required to pay federal taxes so long as they distribute at least 90% of their profits as dividends.
Joe Biden's tax plan would raise corporate taxes back to 28% and would more aggressively tax foreign income. It also is specifically designed to force large, profitable tech companies to pay more.
All of this bodes poorly for the stock market. But it wouldn't be such a bad thing for REITs. Their special tax status might actually be appreciated again.
One REIT to consider is Realty Income (O, $57.99). Although Realty Income specializes in retail properties, most of its portfolio – pharmacies, dollar stores, convenience stores, big-box retailers – is relatively COVID-proof. It's a conservative REIT with a long track record of rewarding its shareholders. The company has paid 603 consecutive monthly dividends and has actually raised its dividend for 92 consecutive quarters.
Shares are down by roughly 25% from their recent highs, which has elevated the yield to nearly 5%. A combination of receding COVID fears and a stricter tax regime might be just the right mix to send shares even higher.
Energy Transfer LP
- Market value: $13.8 billion
- Distribution yield: 11.9%
You might have done a double take when you saw Energy Transfer LP (ET, $5.11) in the Biden list. Energy Transfer is a pipeline operator, after all, and a particularly controversial one. The company is currently embroiled in an ongoing dispute over its Dakota Access Pipeline, which passes close to the Standing Rock Reservation. Opposing the pipeline is a cause célèbre for environmental activists.
So, how can Energy Transfer be on a list with the likes of environmental darlings like Tesla?
It comes down to cash flow.
Under a Biden administration, it is safe to assume that new pipeline construction will slow to a crawl. The permitting process will become lengthier and more cumbersome.
"Given the election year, we believe that the regulatory environment would become more challenging under a Biden administration as he could require lengthy reviews to determine whether a project's economic value outweighs its impact to climate change," Stifel analysts write.Paradoxically, this is good for many pipelines, particularly the large, established ones. Many operators have taken a growth-at-any-cost approach, looking to build empires irrespective of profitability. A world in which no new pipelines get built is a world in which serial empire builders like Energy Transfer have a lot more free cash on hand.
Unfortunately, for now, Energy Transfer has been forced to make a painful move in the interests of deleveraging and putting itself back on firm financial footing. That is, it cut its distribution by half – from $0.305 per unit to $0.1525 – which you could argue many investors had already priced in, given its sky-high yield of nearly 20% prior to the cut.
The upside for new money? That still leaves ET shares with a roughly 12% yield, and allows the company to more aggressively pay off its debt.
And without the temptation to spend cash on new projects under a Biden administration, Energy Transfer could eventually be in a better position to buy back units or even begin building its distribution back up again.
iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
- Assets under management: $58.9 billion
- Dividend yield: 3.1%
- Expenses: 0.13%
Emerging markets (EMs) as a group weren't exactly killing it before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) has never recovered to its pre-2008 highs, and the ETF has been stuck in a trading range for the past 10 years despite being historically cheap compared to U.S. equities.
The underperformance of emerging markets stocks isn't a total mystery. Stale commodity prices and a massive corruption scandal have effectively knocked Latin America out of the game for the better part of the last decade. Slowing growth in China and war in the Middle East certainly haven't helped either.
These issues were specific to emerging markets and didn't have a lot to do with the United States. But U.S. trade policy under the Trump administration was a contributing factor, too. The Trump administration really shook up the status quo on trade, which rattled EM investors. This likely kept a lid on prices.
When historians look back at this period, they may conclude that the COVID pandemic marked the end of post-WWII globalization. Finely tuned global supply chains fall apart when confronted with the possibility of a country-wide quarantine. Furthermore, there is a growing consensus in both parties that the U.S. and China are rivals and no longer friends.
All of that said, a Biden administration would likely preside over a less confrontational trade agenda that should generally be better for emerging markets. The ETF to use for that, however, is not EEM, but its more cost-friendly sister fund, the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG, $57.33). IEMG, which provides access to nearly 2,500 emerging-market stocks, charges 55 basis points less annually than EEM (a basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point).
SPDR Gold MiniShares
- Assets under management: $3.8 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
- Expenses: 0.18%
It was always messy and a little embarrassing. But the constant bickering between the Obama administration and the congressional Republicans throughout the 2010s wasn't all bad. The repeated government shutdowns kept spending in check to some extent and kept the budget deficit lower than it might have been.
We will likely get a repeat of that dynamic under a Biden administration if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate once the votes are counted and Georgia has its runoff election.
But what if they don't?
As of this writing, control of the Senate has yet to be decided. It is still possible that the Democrats pick up two more seats in Georgia, which with incoming Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote, would give them control of the Senate.
Well, for better or worse, Joe Biden's policy platform is potentially expensive. And with the economy still in rough shape, the combination of increased government spending with sagging receipts could mean massive budget deficits for the foreseeable future.
Under that scenario, gold would make sense as a possible inflation and dollar devaluation hedge, and one of the cheapest and most cost-effective ways to buy it would be via the SPDR Gold MiniShares (GLDM, $19.45). GLDM sports an expense ratio of just 0.18%, making it one of the cheapest gold ETFs on the market.
Gold likely will continue to rise no matter who wins in November. Investors are genuinely worried about the health of the dollar these days, and with legitimate reason. But under an unrestrained blue-wave scenario, you might see gold's ascent speed up.
Charles Sizemore was long ET, GLDM and O as of this writing.