As implausible as it seemed last year and as surreal as it is now, Donald Trump is the only presidential front-runner in the race not under the simmering threat of a federal indictment. Though Trump taking the White House may still be a long shot, it is not as long of a shot as it once was. Much to the bemusement of establishment insiders, the shot just keeps getting shorter.
Investors need to adapt quickly to whatever situation arises, but there is considerable confusion as to what to expect with a Trump presidency. Here is an attempt to clarify at least some of the blur as to what to do with your portfolio if ever the Donald takes the oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.
Sell Health Insurance Stocks
Say what you want about Obamacare from a political standpoint, it has done wonders for health insurance stocks. Since bear market bottom on March 6, 2009, the S&P has risen 160%. Compare that to the largest health insurers, and gains range from Anthem Inc.’s (NYSE: ANTM) 217% all the way to WellCare Health Plans Inc.’s (NYSE: WCG) 727% gain. All of them have handily outperformed the broader market since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In the middle of the gainers are United Health Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) up 336%, and Centene Corp (NYSE: CNC) up 458%.
The rationale is simple. If the government forces people to buy health insurance, those who sell health insurance will gain. There’s nothing else to it. Trump has made it clear he not only intends to repeal Obamacare, but he also wants to allow drug imports from overseas, hurting domestic Big Pharma. The two companies that may be hurt the most by these moves are the two biggest gainers, WellCare and Centene, which focus on government-sponsored health plans. Stay away from those two at least, and if you’re brave enough, establish short positions the day after Trump wins, if that happens.
Sell Gun Stocks
If you think health insurance stocks have done well since 2009, gun stocks will blow you away. Smith and Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) is up over 600%. Sturm, Ruger and Co. (NYSE: RGR) over 1,000%. Much of this is fundamentally driven by gun buyers afraid of the government taking away their ability to purchase weapons. One of Trump’s stated positions is that “The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”
At first glance this looks good for gun companies, but the reality may be counterintuitive. A relaxed government stance on gun laws is more likely to lower the demand for weapons as people become less fearful of government interference in the matter. Just as a real or threatened government clampdown on gun ownership benefits gun stocks, a relaxed stance will do just the opposite.
Buy the Military Industrial Complex
Trump’s antagonism towards China is well known. It is perhaps his signature position. Labeling China a “currency manipulator” (not exactly unique to them these days) and raising tariffs on Chinese imports is likely to severely antagonize the world’s second biggest economy and raise the volume on belligerent and bellicose tones coming from both sides. There is already considerable tension in the South China Sea over manmade islands, and with Trump in the White House, even a small incident could lead to something quite dangerous and unprecedented. Afghanistan and Iraq are one thing, but China is something else entirely. Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) could all climb much higher if the threat of a confrontation with China increases due to a Trump victory.