Q&A: Readers Have Questions, We Have Answers

The web is a “lean forward” medium in which people engage and participate. By contrast, television and movies are passive, “lean back” media.

It’s always gratifying to me when readers like you lean into our content and are sufficiently stimulated to send me letters.

As usual, the latest batch of letters touched upon a diverse range of topics. Here are the ones that stood out.

Late-night scam artists…

“You often advise us that the first rule of responsible financial management is to pare down our debt. I have more debt than I’d like and I see these ads on television in which companies offer to help people get a handle on their debt. Are they reputable?” — Sally R.

Sally, in a word, no. These scams are all the rage on late-night television. The ad usually starts with a montage of average people, tormented by too much debt. A distinguished-looking fellow in a suit (often a washed-up former congressman) suddenly appears and in resonant tones, promises to slash your debt by dramatic amounts. All you need to do is call the 1-800 number on your screen and salvation from debt is yours.

Here’s the reality: Debt management companies solely exist to pick your pocket. They charge sky-high fees and they don’t eliminate your debt; they merely repackage and consolidate it. At the end of the day, you still have the same debt, but now, on top of your debt, you’ve just spent a large fee to a company that merely played paper games with it.

The same applies to companies that promise to help you escape your responsibilities from the IRS. These tax scamsters start to come out of the woodwork right about now, during the lead up to tax season. Slash your overdue taxes by huge percentages, simply by calling that 1-800 number? It can’t be done.

Meanwhile, federal, state and local law enforcement authorities are reporting an explosion of scams as con artists move to exploit public panic over the coronavirus pandemic.

Read This Story: COVID-19 Scammers Want Your Stimulus Check

Law enforcement officials are warning consumers to be particularly wary of coronavirus-related cyberscams, including slickly designed emails purporting to emanate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross or other health organizations.

Drug stocks: ignore the political grandstanding…

“There’s been a lot of talk from Biden and Trump this election year about cracking down on so-called ‘obscene’ drug prices. I’m afraid new laws will hurt the profits of the pharmaceutical companies. Should I avoid drug stocks altogether?” — James G.

Absolutely not. During every election year, politicians bash Big Pharma for its purported sins, to score political points. To be sure, some companies are guilty of charging excessive prices, but you can’t paint the entire industry with the same brush.

When the 2020 election is over, the “populist” rhetoric will likely fade away, regardless of who wins. Legislation to curb drug prices typically makes colorful headlines but rarely goes anywhere in Congress.

The interests of drug companies are well protected because they’re major campaign contributors to both parties and they employ an army of lobbyists. I’m not a fan of this dynamic in the nation’s capital, but you should see our imperfect world the way it really is and invest accordingly.

Turn to pharmaceutical stocks for long-term wealth building. The major drug providers typically enjoy strong cash flow, rock solid balance sheets, and long histories of earnings and revenue growth. They’re “essential services” plays that are recession-resistant. And make no mistake, the world economy is mired in a severe recession.

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a global health crisis, as health care providers get overwhelmed and drug firms large and small rush to create a vaccine. This focus on drug makers should continue in the post-COVID world.

Read This Story: Pandemic Plays: All Eyes on Health Services

Also worth considering are biotech firms involved in medical marijuana. Sales for medical as well as recreational marijuana are projected to post significant multi-year growth, as depicted by the following chart:

Medical marijuana is one of the hottest corners of the biotechnology sector. The potential this wonder-herb packs for alleviating symptoms of myriad diseases makes biotech companies developing cannabis-based treatments among the most exciting and potentially lucrative investment opportunities today. For our report on the best pot stocks to buy now, click here.

Water: The ultimate commodity…

“I’ve noticed that some OPEC countries, particularly the Saudis, are trying to diversify their economies and reduce their dependence on oil revenue. Do you see any investment opportunities in this trend?” — Lenny K.

Human beings will continue to need water, regardless of the cyclical gyrations of the stock market and economy. Pollution, urban sprawl and climate change are destroying potable water sources.

Let’s focus on OPEC-leader Saudi Arabia. Among the desert kingdom’s attempts to modernize its oil-dependent economy is a huge investment in water purification, production, storage, and distribution. The House of Saud knows that water and renewable energy, not fossil fuels, are the growth opportunities of the next several decades.

Read This Story: Why The Energy Status Quo Is Doomed

One of the surest ways to make money in a turbulent world is to invest in unstoppable trends that are transforming societies and economies. When a powerful oil-dependent nation such as Saudi Arabia embraces the water industry, well, it should tell you something.

According to the World Health Organization, about 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.

Consider investing in water utilities. These stocks tend to be recession resistant and provide not only growth but the stable income you’d expect from utilities. For the best dividend-paying utilities involved in power generation and water management, click here.

Got a question or feedback? Shoot me a letter: mailbag@investingdaily.com.

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily. To subscribe to John’s video channel, follow this link.