This article was first published by MyWallSt.
Every day, hundreds of "financial gurus" claim that the next recession is right around the corner. While the vast majority of these claims will prove false, it's a simple fact that one will eventually be right.
So will your portfolio be ready?
Image source: Unsplash.
Just as it is impossible to predict when exactly the next recession will hit, it is impossible for a stock to be fully recession-proof. Every recession is unique, none will be like the last, and each industry will be affected differently. The best we can do is search for a stock that is recession ready -- a company whose services will not be overly disrupted by economic turbulence.
These two companies have stood through past recessions and are certainly ready for the next.
1. American Tower
American Tower (NYSE: AMT) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and operates wireless and broadcast infrastructures throughout 17 different countries. You may not have heard of this company, but whenever you use your phone, you are more than likely availing of American Tower's services.
American Tower is a business of the future. Not only will it be in a prime position to take advantage of the mass rollout of 5G in 2019, but it has created a massive barrier to entry for competitors. By owning over 170,000 cellular towers and leasing out to some of the biggest names in communication, American Tower has established itself as one of the market leaders in communication infrastructure.
What makes American Tower ready for the next recession, however, is that its services will not be disturbed by the economic climate. Like haircuts, people will still need phone signal meaning towers will still be rented -- no matter how many points the Dow Jones has dropped.
In his 2018 letter to shareholders, CEO James Taiclet attributes American Tower's historical performance to the company's resilience, even through the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
During the crash of 2008, revenue increased 8% for American Tower, showcasing how its long-term contracts are a winning strategy. This growth has continued into the present day with 20,000 towers being added to the portfolio in 2018 in conjunction with an 11% increase in revenue.
American Tower's geographical diversification, lease structure, and strong balance sheet ensure that it will remain -- and potentially thrive -- throughout the next recession.
Costco (NASDAQ: COST) is one of the largest retailers in the world. As of 2018, Costco has 768 locations and more than 94 million customers -- all of whom must pay a membership fee to shop at its stores.
We've previously discussed how Costco is proving itself to be an Amazon-proof stock, but it's also recession ready. By cutting out the frills, Costco offers consumers a cheaper alternative to its main competitor, Walmart, which in times of economic trouble will be highly beneficial. During a recession, people will be more likely to both buy in bulk and dine at home. This will potentially lead to more and more people becoming Costco members.
This makes Costco a great recession-ready stock. In fact, it's entirely possible that a recession could be beneficial to Costco in the long term as members usually stick around -- renewal rates are currently at 90% in the U.S. and Canada.
During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Costco stock dropped 37%. Despite this, memberships increased by 8% in 2008 and a further 6% in 2009, while membership renewals reached an all-time high of 87% in 2008. Since then, the stock price has jumped over fivefold, easily outperforming the S&P 500 over the same time. Today, Costco's success continues, with memberships increasing 4% and comparable sales up 9% from 2017.
Just as people will still need phone service in times of recession, people will still need to buy groceries, and Costco aims to be the best and most affordable way to do it. The Seattle Times reported that in the first 11 months of 2009, retail sales dropped 8% while sales in warehouse clubs and superstores grew 2%. This need for Costco's services ensures it will be here long after the next recession.
Image source: MyWallSt.
MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in American Tower and Costco. Read our full disclosure policy here.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and American Tower. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2020 $180 calls on Costco Wholesale and long January 2020 $115 calls on Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.