While US, China Wrangle Over Trade Deal, Look to These Stocks for Some Peace of Mind

Print Email

The deadline for a deal between the United States and China passed at midnight Thursday and, as of Friday, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in goods imported from China rose from 10% to 25%. The Chinese have promised to retaliate, but so far no specific actions have been reported.

The impact of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies has depressed equity markets around the world, mostly because, bad as a trade war is for the global economy, it could get even worse.

One of the leading indicators of global economic strength is air freight volumes, which John Kemp of Reuters said Friday “are falling at some of the fastest rates since the end of the great recession.” Typically, high-value cargoes shipped by air and early availability of freight volume data are useful early indicators of the global economy’s direction.

A tariff war between the United States and China could be more damaging to the Chinese. The government has done little to shift the country’s economy more toward domestic consumption and away from manufacturing export goods. At some point, as the price of Chinese goods rises not just in the United States but in other countries as well, more manufacturing will ship to other low-cost locations like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

A threat that the Chinese will dump their $1.2 trillion in U.S. Treasuries is not much of a real threat at all. U.S. debt totals north of $22 trillion, and even if the Chinese could sell every Treasury note they hold, that would amount to less than 5% of U.S. debt outstanding. And there would be plenty of buyers. Even at rates of less than 3%, U.S. debt holders are getting something, unlike holders of euro- or yen-denominated debt.

Since Monday, the S&P 500 Index is down about 2.7% as of mid-morning Friday, as investors dump stocks with exposure to retaliatory tariffs from the Chinese or investors just want to rotate out of equities. The 10-year Treasury note traded down slightly Friday morning at around 2.44%, and gold was trading up about a quarter-point at nearly $1,289 an ounce.

Here are 10 stocks with minimal exposure to a trade war because a large percentage — and in some cases all — of their business is domestic. We’ve added last night’s closing price and a few other significant data points.

American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) shares closed at $82.87 on Thursday, within a 52-week range of $62.71 to $86.10. The stock has a consensus price target of $85.06 and pays a dividend yield of 3.13%. AEP shares are up 11.4% so far in 2019 and traded up about 0.4% Friday morning.

American Water Works Co. (NYSE: AWK) closed up 0.3% Thursday at $105.78, in a 52-week range of $77.73 to $108.32. The stock was up about 0.5% Friday morning and has a consensus price target of $109.83. For the year to date, shares are up 16.6%. The company’s dividend yield is 1.68%.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) shares closed down 0.6% Thursday at $705.13, within a 52-week range of $383.20 to $721.42. The consensus price target is $683.00, and the stock price has soared by 61.5% so far this year. Chipotle does not pay a dividend.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) closed down 0.5% at $188.65, in a 52-week range of $123.02 to $218.62. The stock’s consensus price target is $221.50, and shares have added 41.6% for the year to date. Facebook does not pay a dividend.

Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) closed down 0.3% Thursday to $194.58, in a 52-week range of $158.09 to $215.43. The stock has a consensus price target of $205.86, and shares have added about 11.6% this year. Home Depot’s dividend yield is 2.67%.

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) shares closed at $52.46, up less than 0.1%, within a 52-week range of $44.28 to $64.02. Shares traded down about 2% Friday morning. The consensus price target is $59.53, and shares have gained 10.5% year to date. Home Depot has a dividend yield of 1.18%.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) closed down 0.5% at $237.97, in a 52-week range of $208.07 to $287.94. The consensus price target is $288.04, and the dividend yield is 1.54%. Shares have dropped 4.8% so far this year.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) closed Thursday at $56.48, up about 0.1%, within a 52-week range of $47.13 to $61.58. The stock’s consensus price target is $59.64, and the dividend yield is 4.21%. So far in 2019, the shares have added 0.5%.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) closed up 0.4% at $46.74, in a 52-week range of $43.02 to $59.53. The consensus price target is $52.12 and pays a dividend of 3.72%. For the year to date, Wells Fargo shares have risen 0.8%.

Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) closed up three cents Thursday at $51.99, in a 52-week range of $42.40 to $66.04. The stock has a consensus price target of $58.73, and Altria pays a dividend of 5.89%. The stock is up 3.4% for the year to date.

I'm interested in the Newsletter