Last week I looked at what would be my top three picks for Canadian stocks that Americans would do well to start out with, especially if they would like to diversify their currency risk.
At a reader’s suggestion I thought I should look across the border in the other direction at U.S. stocks that still hold promise for Canadians. As most Canadians are well aware right now, the loonie is near another all-time high (it will be at 98 cents-something as this publishes). This means that U.S. stocks are “cheap” by historical standards right now and that you can get the most bang for your loonie buck if you invest now (as opposed to investing, say, when the loonie is only down near 80 cents) (and assuming further upside in your stock, of course).
Top U.S. Stocks for Canadians
So let’s cut to the chase. Here would be my current picks. Defensive; with dividends; and blue-chip multinationals with less currency risk. I’ll say up front that I do not think anyone should be buying U.S. financials yet. Just don’t. Don’t ask about Citibank, and stay away even from Bank of America. That may be a bit extreme, but we’ve already got great U.S. exposure through some Canadian banks like TD.
Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)
This is a really defensive play, and it’s also a multinational. Which means you have less currency risk since most of their profits do not come from the U.S. JNJ also increases its dividend on a regular basis, and it is involved in health care and medical products, too. It’s hard to come up with a negative on this stock, except that it doesn’t have the potential to skyrocket on the upside.
Intel (NSDQ: INTC)
Computer chip-maker, Intel’s products are in PCs everywhere around the world. With an Intel play you get exposure to the tech sector, AND, importantly, you also get a dividend (Dell, Apple and Cisco don’t pay them, for example). You could possibly substitute Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in here, too, if you’d like a stock with a bit more ballast to it. Microsoft also carries absolutely no debt – hard to argue with that. But Intel might be positioned for better upside growth long-term – and it’s hard to see its market potential dwindling with the growth in emerging markets.
AT&T (NYSE: T)
Telcos are a great defensive play at home and they’re just as good in the U.S. AT&T is my pick largely due to the extensive coverage throughout the U.S. and the fact that they’re (so far) the exclusive carrier for the iPhone 3G networks. This means everyone in the U.S. using an iPhone has to have a contract with AT&T. If you’ve ever used an iPhone, you’ll have some idea of the power this can hold for upside on AT&T’s stock. Plus, AT&T pays a regularly increasing dividend and it has grown steadily over the past five years. You get exposure to a defensive area of the U.S. market (it’s not as affected by consumer downturns) and the stock still has room for upside riding the Apple boom.
So those are my picks. For disclosure’s sake, I own some Intel, but not the other two yet. They’re on my buy list. What would be your selections?
[I should also add that I'm a passive socially-responsible investor, which for me means that I don't go out of my way to buy "SRI funds " as such; I just do my own screening. That's why McDonald's and Coca-Cola aren't on here. It doesn't matter to me whether the math says they would be good investments. The fact is, we all know that no one should be eating at McDonald's, and if we vote with our dollars, investments are votes, too. Feel free to disagree below.]
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