5 Stocks for an Uncertain Future

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Uncertainty is part of both life and investing. However, long-term investors keep cool in the face of that uncertainty. They avoid knee-jerk reactions and bet on stocks for the long haul.

Warren Buffett said it best: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” Of course, Buffett isn’t advocating for true greed. Rather, he’s encouraging investors to notice investing opportunities when others are scared to pursue them. 

That’s why we’ve put together this quick list of stocks for an uncertain future. There are certainly a lot of unknowns out there. But that shouldn’t keep long-term investors from looking at the market and picking winners. 

Four stocks are on this list because they’ve already weathered specific uncertainties — like the pandemic — very well. And one made the cut because its goal is to battle a big unknown: climate change. 

Whatever your risk tolerance, you’ll likely find a few companies on this list that you can add to your portfolio and hold for years to come. No matter what uncertainties lie ahead, you’ll be glad you snatched up the shares when you did.  

Top 5 Stocks for an Uncertain Future 

  1. Amazon
  2. Brookfield Renewable Partners
  3. Visa
  4. Apple
  5. Costco Wholesale

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)

  • Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
  • Price: $3334.34 (as of close Dec 30, 2021)
  • Market Cap: $1.711T

When the pandemic officially reached the United States in early 2020, lockdowns and social distancing turned most businesses upside down. Even Amazon was temporarily thrown for a loop. But it recovered quickly and has since gone on to prove that even large companies can swiftly adapt to uncertain circumstances. 

Instead of just staying the course, Amazon noticed the unique opportunity it has as both the largest online retailer and one of the largest delivery companies in the U.S. In 2020, the company went on a hiring spree, adding more than 400,000 jobs in fulfillment centers, delivery stations, and retail locations. 

The company’s recent growth has fueled Amazon’s top and bottom lines even faster than before the pandemic. In turn, that’s caused the company’s share price to more than double the S&P 500’s gains since the beginning of 2020.

Like every big company, there are plenty of things that Amazon could still improve. But the big takeaway from the past two years is that, during a very uncertain economic time for millions of Americans, Amazon was a massive job creator. 

The company’s ability to focus on what it does best during the pandemic helped many people keep their jobs — or get new ones — and also brought impressive gains for the company’s shareholders.

Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP) (NYSE:BEPC)

  • Brookfield Renewable Partners L.P. (NYSE:BEP)
  • Price: $35.09 (as of close Dec 30, 2021)
  • Market Cap: $16.607B

Uncertainty comes in many forms. One of the biggest examples of this right now is climate change. Governments and companies around the world are committing more money than ever to decarbonization efforts — to the tune of $100 trillion over the next thirty years. 

That’s a staggering figure to wrap your head around. But as more attention is given to climate change, a lot of money is being spent to fight it. And that’s where the renewable energy company Brookfield Renewable Partners comes in.

The company has 6,000 renewable energy-generating facilities — with wind, solar, and hydroelectric power — and is using them to fight climate change. 

The company estimates that 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to power generation in the energy sector. That means changing how power is generated — from fossil fuels to green energy — will have a tremendous impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. 

Determining exact timelines for climate change scenarios may be difficult. But there’s no denying that a shift to green energy is already well underway. And Brookfield is solidly in the mix of this transition. 

For investors who are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and looking for a company that’s helping to bring about some change, Brookfield could be a good bet. 

Visa (NYSE:V)

  • Visa (NYSE:V)
  • Price: $216.71 (as of close Dec 30, 2021)
  • Market Cap: $459.39B

Financial services are almost always in demand, no matter what’s happening in the world. That’s why payment processing juggernaut Visa is a no-brainer for this stock list. 

The company processed nearly 165 billion transactions in fiscal 2021, an impressive 17% spike from the year before. Visa’s massive global reach in the payments space means that, even though financial technology (fintech) is evolving quickly, investors can bet the company won’t be sidelined anytime soon. 

Even better, Visa has continued to innovate to keep pace with the shifting fintech market. For example, the company has started using the Ethereum blockchain to make secure and efficient settlement payments for digital currencies. 

Visa is already firmly established as a leader in payment processing. So the company should be able to safely tap into the fast-growing cryptocurrency market without all the risks some fintech companies have. 

Investors will be happy to hear that Visa’s revenue in fiscal 2021 spiked 10%, while net income jumped 13% and payments volume popped 16%. Management said that Visa’s business performed well for the full year even during a “relatively tumultuous fiscal 2021…” 

The company’s long-term share price gains also point toward the stability of Visa. Its shares have easily outpaced the S&P 500 over the past five years and beat the benchmark by more than 2.5 times over the past ten years. 

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

  • Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)
  • Price: $177.57 (as of close Dec 30, 2021)
  • Market Cap: $2.924T

Some companies are so large, stable, and profitable that having them in your portfolio — especially during difficult times — makes a lot of sense. 

Sure, Apple’s share price rises and falls just like any other stock. But the tech giant’s track record of delivering gains despite trying economic times is impeccable. Consider that between 2007 and the end of 2021 — a timespan that includes both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic — Apple’s stock has returned a staggering 5,200%

Think about that for just a second. During two very uncertain economic times over the past fifteen years, Apple has been able to weather the storms, continue to grow its business, and deliver huge gains for investors. 

Of course, Apple isn’t untouchable. It’s currently dealing with microchip supply-chain constraints, just like many other companies. It’s also under pressure to release new innovative products that are as transformative as its iPod, iPad, and iPhone have been. 

But Apple has proved that releasing new products that consumers want, along with keeping a long-term view, can help this tech giant not only stay relevant in the fast-moving tech space but also be a fantastic investment.  

Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST)

  • Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST)
  • Price: $567.7 (as of close Dec 30, 2021)
  • Market Cap: $250.056B

When the economy is in turmoil and inflation is rising, guess what people still need? Toilet paper. And even as the COVID-19 pandemic was surging around the globe, people still got in their cars and drove to Costco for food and other necessities. 

On the flip side, when the economy is strong and people are more prone to spending money (rather than saving it), Costco has plenty of products to tap into this sentiment as well. Think big-screen TV sales. 

The point is, no matter what’s happening — a booming economy or a global pandemic — Costco members continue shopping at the store. 

The company currently operates more than 800 warehouses around the world. About a third of them are outside the U.S. This gives the company growing exposure to the international market. 

For fiscal 2021, Costco’s comparable sales climbed nearly 15% at its U.S. stores, 20% in Canada, and about 20% at its other international locations. 

And while this membership club will always focus on in-person shopping, Costco is also growing its e-commerce business as well. Sales from the segment surged 44% in fiscal 2021. 

The only drawback of shopping online at Costco is there are no free food samples. Sigh. 

If you’re on the hunt for a stable investment, look no further than Costco’s stock. The company’s share price has more than doubled the S&P 500’s gains over the past five years. 

That’s not a guarantee its stock will outperform the market in the coming years. But with Costco’s businesses proving it can succeed during very uncertain times, it’s likely that investors won’t be disappointed with this stock over the long haul. 

How Do You Plan Financially for an Uncertain Future?

While these stocks are all excellent choices for planning for an uncertain future, investing in the stock market isn’t the only way to prepare. Check out our new course, Financial Freedom in Uncertain Times, for detailed lessons, exercises, and interviews to get you ready for whatever comes next.

Financial Freedom in Uncertain Times

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Chris Neiger owns Apple. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Amazon, Apple, Brookfield Renewable Corporation Inc., Costco Wholesale, and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. Millennial Money is part of The Motley Fool network. Millennial Money has a disclosure policy.