Former Vice President Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
And while he has only just reached his first 100 days in office, he's already made quite the splash, energizing a number of so-called "Biden stocks" along the way.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout was so successful that he had to revise his goal of 100 million shots in the first 100 days to a whopping 200 million. And then there was the $2 trillion COVID-relief bill that included $1,400 stimulus checks.
Next on the policy agenda is a major infrastructure bill – one that Biden himself has called the most ambitious domestic action plan since the Interstate Highway System and the space race.
President Biden has pledged to govern as a centrist. But he also has made it very clear that he wants to "Build Back Better" with an emphasis on renewable energy and modern infrastructure. These priorities likely will be warmly embraced by a Democrat-controlled Congress without provoking a filibuster from Republican senators.
So, what does this "blue wave" mean for the stock market?
"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 healthcare are all Democratic priorities and should do well under a Biden presidency."
Without partisan gridlock to slow government spending, we could also see even larger budget deficits and the real potential for inflation down the road. That remains to be seen. But in the meantime, let's look at the 20 best stocks to buy for the Joe Biden presidency. Some of these are fairly obvious winners, but some are contrarian bets you might not expect.
Data is as of April 26. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price.
Martin Marietta Materials
- Market value: $22.3 billion
- Dividend yield: 0.6%
As mentioned a minute ago, a key plank of President Biden's platform is his "Build Back Better" plan, which includes pledges to "mobilize American manufacturing" and "build a modern infrastructure."
While Biden will certainly benefit from a more accommodative Senate, he was 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," Wells Fargo Investment Institute analysts say.
This brings us to Martin Marietta Materials (MLM, $357.47).
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.
Biden's American Jobs Plan could help to speed along a major boost in infrastructure spending, making MLM one of the best stocks to buy for the new administration should that legislation pass.
- Market value: $125.1 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.8%
If a boom in infrastructure spending is on the horizon, then it's hard to avoid industrial stocks like Caterpillar (CAT, $230.56), 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.
Something interesting happened in 2020, however. Yes, 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: $56.9 billion
- Dividend yield: 2.1%
For another broad play on the expected boom in infrastructure spending, consider Eaton (ETN, $143.37).
Eaton doesn't generate power, and it's not a pure play on green energy like some of the other best "Biden stocks" on this list. But, as a major supplier of electrical components and systems, it is absolutely an indirect play on this fast-growing industry, and one that is likely to thrive irrespective of the inevitable booms and busts we'll see in the coming years. The wind and solar farms popping up around the country need to be incorporated into the national grid, and that's precisely what Eaton does.
Eaton is a power management company that dates back more than a century. It has been listed on the NYSE for 97 years and has paid a dividend every year since 1923. That's remarkable consistency in an industry that has gone through incredible changes over the past century, and that's a major selling point of this Biden stock.
Many of the high-flying stocks in alternative energy might or might not be around a decade from now. This is still very much the wild west. But Eaton almost certainly will be, supplying the survivors with power systems and software and integrating them into the grid.
- Market value: $74.8 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.3%
President 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 is the deployment of vaccines now that they're 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, the Biden administration is implementing the majority of it.
This brings us to Becton Dickinson (BDX, $257.45). Becton, a Dividend Aristocrat, is a manufacturer of medical instruments and supplies, including syringes. If you're going to administer hundreds of millions of vaccines in the United States alone – and billions globally – you 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 six months. So far, it's believed that all currently approved vaccines 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: $11.3 billion
- Distribution yield: 3.0%*
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 doesn't have the easiest path in the world given that he still only has a split Senate, so it's unlikely he'll have a strong enough mandate to force through the Green New Deal in its entirety. In fact, before the runoffs, the WFII wrote that "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."
But it's still safe to that green energy and infrastructure are a priority, given the contents of the American Jobs Plan. That makes Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (BEP, $41.16), the 60%-owned renewable-energy affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), one of the best stocks to buy for a Joe Biden presidency. BEP owns a portfolio of wind, solar, hydroelectric and other green-energy properties.
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: $152.6 billion
- Dividend yield: 2.0%
NextEra Energy (NEE, $77.93) 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 2.0%. 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: $4.4 billion
- Dividend yield: 4.2%
For another play on green energy, consider Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (AY, $39.76).
It's hard to call AY a true "Biden stock." That's because it's not a pure play on America's green-energy hopes – 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 3.8% ... lower than when we first recommended this stock in fall 2020, but attractive nonetheless. It's the sort of yield you'd generally expect to find in a traditional energy company, not a sustainable one.
- Market value: $9.6 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
First Solar (FSLR, $89.79) 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 3.5 times sales and at a price/earnings-to-growth ratio of 6.8 (anything above 1.0 is considered overpriced). Looking at estimates for 2021, shares look a little more reasonable, trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 24. But that's still more expensive than its own historical average, so you should be careful here and keep your position size reasonable.
Nonetheless, 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.
Invesco Solar ETF
- Assets under management: $3.4 billion
- Dividend yield: 0.1%
- Expenses: 0.69%
Let's take a look at one last green energy catch-all in the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN, $91.88).
If you believe in the general macro story behind solar stocks but don't want the company-specific risk that comes with picking a single company in the space, the Invesco Solar ETF might be a good option. TAN is based on the MAC Global Solar Energy Index and includes most of the major players in the space.
The largest stock in the ETF's portfolio is Enphase Energy (ENPH), which accounts for nearly 11% of the total. Enphase creates all-in-one solar and storage systems for American homes and is one of the more established players in this field. The company went public in 2012, and the shares are up by 360% over the past year.
Israel-based SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) is the second-largest position in the ETF's portfolio with a weighting of 9.9%; the aforementioned First Solar comes in fourth at 6.4% of the portfolio.
The Invesco Solar ETF is a relatively large, liquid ETF with more than $3 billion in assets under management and daily trading volume of about 2 million shares. By giving you access to a portfolio of solar companies, TAN is a slightly more conservative way to play the rise of alternative energy. But keep in mind, solar stocks are wildly volatile, and even a more diversified option like TAN is capable of wild price swings. So, be sure that you keep your position sizes reasonable here.
- Market value: $687.3 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
Returning to the green-energy theme, Tesla (TSLA, $738.20) 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 while TSLA shares are roughly flat in 2021, they're up by about 410% over the past 12 months. In fact, 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: $8.5 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.1%
The electrification of the federal vehicle fleet, including the trucks used by the United States Postal Service, was a major green priority for Biden, as he believes the government should lead by example.
Oshkosh recently won the contract to produce 165,000 new mail trucks, and a significant percentage of these will be electric vehicles.
Oshkosh makes a lot more than just mail trucks. The company has gone "all in" on electric vehicles, going so far as to produce electric-powered cement mixers and other heavy-duty vehicles.
If you believe that a Biden's infrastructure bill, or at least something that looks close to it, will become reality, Oshkosh is a way to play that trend. many of its products are used in heavy construction projects, such as cement mixers, truck mounted cranes, and "cherry pickers" and other hydraulic lifting systems.
And again, Oshkosh is now making many of these vehicles available in electric models, potentially given them an edge over competitors by a green-focused Biden administration.
- Market value: $10.5 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, $27.53). 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 more than a year ago; after another run-and-retreat this year, shares trade for a little more 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.
Innovative Industrial Properties
- Market value: $4.3 billion
- Dividend yield: 2.9%
The marijuana economy is likely to do well under a blue wave. But picking individual winners here can be a challenge. The safer bet is to invest in the infrastructure supporting the marijuana economy. It wasn't the gold miners that got rich during the 19th century California gold rush, after all, but the people that supplied them with everything from pickaxes to Levi's jeans.
This brings us to Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR, $181.96), a real estate investment trust (REIT) that buys and manages specialized properties used in the medical marijuana space. IIPR's portfolio includes cultivation, processing and retail properties. The REIT owns 63 properties spread across 26 states. The portfolio is 99% leased with a weighted average lease length of over 16 years. If you believe that medical marijuana is here to stay, Innovative Industrial is a good way to play that long-term trend.
Unlike many REITs, Innovative Industrial is not primarily an income play as its current yield is just 2.9%. It's a total-return play based on growth expectations in the legal cannabis space. But frankly, in this interest-rate environment, 2.9% is actually pretty competitive, and it belies what has been rapid dividend growth on IIPR's part for years.
- Market value: $18.7 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.1%
One of Biden's early policy pushes was the $2 trillion COVID-relief stimulus bill, which included direct payments to most Americans of $1,400. With many Americans still out of work and struggling financially, the bulk of the checks likely were spent on rent, groceries and basic necessities.
But some of it likely was splurged on frivolous little luxuries like a restaurant meal. This, and increasingly the vaccine rollout, should mean a boost to chain restaurant stocks such as Darden Restaurants (DRI, $142.14). Darden is the parent company of the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and other popular restaurants.
The past year has been a brutal one for the restaurant business. Due to COVID-related capacity restrictions, America's restaurants have been largely empty since last March. Demand for carryout has been strong, but diners tend to spend less on carryout orders, particularly on high-margin alcoholic beverages and desserts.
Brighter days are ahead, as restaurants will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a successful vaccine rollout. Darden has already recouped its 2020 losses and then some. Further gains could be ahead as the world starts to look a little more normal.
- Market value: $622.2 billion
- Dividend yield: N/A
2020 was a blowout year for tech stocks and for growth stocks in general, but many traditional value stocks really struggled. In some ways it was reminiscent of the late 1990s, the era of "irrational exuberance," to quote Alan Greenspan. Then, as now, investor attention has been squarely focused on large-cap tech at the expense of all else.
But an interesting thing happened 20 years ago. After years of leaving value stocks in the dust, tech-heavy growth stocks entered a long stretch of underperformance in 2000. It was stodgy value stocks that took the lead between 2000 and 2008.
The "old economy" struck back.
We could be on the cusp of a similar move today. The rally in growth names could continue in 2021; only time will tell. But if you believe that old-economy value stocks are due for their time in the sun, then Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B, $270.86) is a good option.
Of course, Berkshire Hathaway is not a pure old-school value stock today. Its largest holding by a country mile is Apple (AAPL), which makes up nearly half of its public stock portfolio. But looking deeper, you see a collection of quality old-economy stocks, such as Bank of America (BAC) and Coca-Cola (KO). And digging into its portfolio of wholly owned private companies, you find gritty industrials like BNSF Railway and Acme Brick company.
If you believe Main Street America might get a much-needed reprieve in 2021 from a Biden infrastructure boom and a successful vaccine rollout, then Berkshire Hathaway is a nice catch-all investment to play that theme.
- Market value: $372.1 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.3%
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, $395.86). 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 ... 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: $25.7 billion
- Dividend yield: 4.1%
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, $69.32). 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 605 consecutive monthly dividends and has actually raised its dividend for 93 consecutive quarters.
A combination of receding COVID fears and a stricter tax regime might be just the right mix to send shares higher.
Energy Transfer LP
- Market value: $22.3 billion
- Distribution yield: 7.5%
You might have done a double take when you saw Energy Transfer LP (ET, $8.18) on this list of Biden stocks. 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 30.5 cents per unit to 15.25 cents – 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 nearly 9% yield, and it 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: $77.9 billion
- Dividend yield: 1.8%
- Expenses: 0.11%
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, $66.25).
IEMG, which provides access to nearly 2,500 emerging-market stocks, charges 59 basis points less annually than EEM (a basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point). That's two basis points lower than when we first featured the fund here; iShares announced lower fees on IEMG and a few other ETFs in December.
SPDR Gold MiniShares
- Assets under management: $4.0 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're set to get something of a mix of that. A split Senate means Biden will have fewer headaches than he would have under complete Republican control there. But with Harris' tie-breaking vote, he effectively has control of the Senate, and thus some measures should be easier to pass than they otherwise would have been.
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, $17.72). GLDM sports an expense ratio of just 0.18%, making it one of the cheapest gold ETFs on the market.
Gold's fortunes seemed promising enough regardless of November's winner. Investors are genuinely worried about the health of the dollar these days, and with legitimate reason. But under a largely unrestrained blue-wave scenario, gold's ascent could speed up.
Charles Sizemore was long ET, GLDM and O as of this writing.
Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA is the Chief Investment Officer of Sizemore Capital Management LLC, a registered investment advisor based in Dallas, Texas, where he specializes in dividend-focused portfolios and in building alternative allocations with minimal correlation to the stock market.
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