As the Rally Takes a Breather, Aerospace Takes Flight

Here we go again. Congress today struggled to avert a government shutdown. Wall Street took a dim view of the shenanigans along the Potomac.

Lawmakers have until midnight Friday to broker a deal. At market close, their squabbling continued. Fears that they would miss their deadline weighed on stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed in the red.

We’ve seen this movie before. Shutdowns have been averted in the past. But this time around, Democrats and Republicans are further apart than ever. We might face an unhappy ending.

Tech stocks showed buoyancy Thursday. The main reason: tax cuts. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) announced that it would repatriate $245 billion in foreign profits. Apple said it would use the money for capital expenditures. AAPL closed the day with a gain of 0.09%.

Falling energy equities took their toll. Crude fell after a reported rise in U.S. fuel stocks. West Texas Intermediate fell 19 cents to close at $63.78 per barrel. Brent North Sea crude fell 20 cents to close at $69.18/bbl.

One sector held its own: aerospace/defense. I’ll explain why defense contractors are well positioned to weather turbulence.

Notes from the cockpit…

Follow your passion. At least, that’s what the self-help gurus say. Next to making money in the stock market, one of my passions is flying helicopters.

My work as an investment strategist keeps me busy. But I still rack up a few flight hours now and then. I also chat with top aerospace executives on a regular basis. I count many of them as friends; some are fellow pilots. Here’s what these insiders tell me: their industry has rarely seen better times. They expect the good times to keep rolling.

I cover all sectors. My specialty is aerospace/defense. My experience tells me that military needs are resistant to economic cycles.

The benchmark iShares US Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA) has generated a total return of 35.25% over the past 12 months, compared to 21.70% for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).

The stock market is poised for a fall. The recovery is due for a recession. You can play defense, with defense stocks.

Sure, most analysts predicted a correction last year. It didn’t happen — not yet. Corrections still wreak havoc on your portfolio, whether they’re delayed or not.

The $1.5 trillion tax cut bill blows up the deficit. The GOP-led Congress will push for budget cuts. But one item remains sacred: defense spending.

Calling Dr. Strangelove…

President Trump’s foreign policy is hawkish. He promises to boost military funding.

On Thursday, North Korea exchanged hostile words (yet again) with the U.S. Meanwhile, reports surfaced of a Pentagon plan that would expand U.S. nuclear policy. The plan currently sits on Trump’s desk, awaiting his approval.

The newly drafted strategy would permit the use of nuclear weapons even in cases of non-nuclear threats. That’s a departure from past policy. It’s heady stuff.

The so-called Nuclear Posture Review drew a grim picture of the threats facing the U.S., with emphasis on Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Separate reports this week revealed that Russia is developing a nuclear torpedo. Guided by artificial intelligence, the weapon carries a monster warhead. It’s designed to shroud coastal cities with deadly radioactivity. Think of it as an underwater doomsday device.

The world is on edge. Japan’s public broadcaster on Tuesday sent false alerts that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile at the country. The broadcaster eventually corrected itself, but not before panic spread. The incident occurred after officials in Hawaii last Saturday erroneously warned of an incoming missile.

The stock market is frothy; tripwires for a correction abound. Investors should seek sectors tapped into relentless trends. Aerospace/defense fits the bill.

Thursday Market Wrap

  • DJIA: -0.37% or -97.84 points to close at 26,017.81
  • S&P 500: -0.16% or -4.53 points to close at 2,798.03
  • Nasdaq: -0.03% or -2.23 points to close at 7,296.05

Thursday’s Big Gainers

  • GNC Holdings (NYSE: GNC) +51.83%

Wellness retailer upgrades guidance.

  • 22nd Century Group (NYSE: XXII) +11.66%

Marijuana biotech makes advances in research.

  • PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) +3.41%

Materials firm beats on earnings.

Thursday’s Big Decliners

  • Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) -7.13%

Reports of defects in electric vehicles hit lithium miners.

  • Alcoa (NYSE: AA) -6.94%

Aluminum miner’s earnings disappoint.

  • FMC (NYSE: FMC) -3.93%

Agri-firm faces slumping demand.

Letters to the Editor

“I’m 61 years old and I’ve never been successful in the stock market because I don’t know the what, when and whys of this business. In 2008, I had very good opportunities but didn’t take the plunge when I should’ve gone with my gut. Looking back, I lost so many tens of thousands of dollars and I don’t want to lose anymore.

Please guide me and teach me the ropes. I’m pretty good at math, but lousy at deciding when to buy or when to sell. I look forward to learning these guidelines to help my retirement, my family, and my financial well-being. Let’s start.” — Paul G.

Paul, I’ll guide you. I can answer the questions you pose via Or you can post questions in the Stock Talk section at the bottom of every article.

It’s never too late to start investing. The stock market is overvalued right now and I advise caution, but plenty of growth opportunities still exist.

Keep reading and when you have a specific question, let me know. My advice runs the gamut in sophistication. I address the needs of highly seasoned investors as well as beginners, and all stages in between.

John Persinos is managing editor of Personal Finance and chief investment strategist of Breakthrough Tech Profits.


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