Although considering stocks to buy might seem like a tertiary concern ahead of a potential global catastrophe, investors shouldn’t panic. Instead, rational preparation may be what the doctor ordered. Recently, headlines erupted about the so-called Doomsday Clock moving forward 90 seconds to midnight. It’s the closest the ominous indicator has been to the hour of reckoning. Still, it’s best to take a prudent approach to the macabre timepiece.
Overseen by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock originally served to warn the public about imminent devastation. At first, the indicator focused on the threat of nuclear war. More recently, the dreaded timepiece incorporated human-caused disasters such as climate change.
As a scientific predictor of stocks to buy (and not to buy), the Doomsday Clock brings virtually no significant value. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely useless. Reflecting general anxieties, this timepiece can potentially identify broad areas of need and/or concern. Below are specific companies to consider.
While the Doomsday Clock originally entered the public spotlight because of broader fears of kinetic conflicts, in the modern age, people must also be aware of digital vulnerabilities. That’s why IBM (NYSE:IBM) may be a worthwhile investment. For quite some time, “Big Blue” failed to recognize the shifting tides of technology. However, its aggressive pivot to the cloud yielded significant rewards.
Notably, IBM represented one of the few tech-centric stocks to buy that didn’t suffer catastrophic losses last year. Indeed, it managed to print a positive return (albeit a modest one). Moving forward, IBM’s myriad business units – including one covering cybersecurity – should augur well for the tech stalwart.
In 2021, cybercrimes cost Americans $6.9 billion. Further, experts believe that by 2025, cybercrimes can cost the world $10.5 trillion. That’s not to say that kinetic conflicts won’t impact human societies because they clearly do. However, the digital realm continues to suffer vulnerabilities, which adds cynical value to IBM as one of the stocks to buy.
Given both domestic and international challenges, it’s important for ethical content distributors not to glorify certain controversial industries. Therefore, Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX) will be the only name on this list that mostly ties into the defense sector. Still, since we’re talking about the Doomsday Clock, I’d be remiss not to mention at least one military-related company.
While Raytheon features a wide range of relevant weapons systems, for this discussion, I’m going to focus on its Patriot missile defense system. In Dec., the Patriot garnered headlines as the U.S. government gave the green light for its deployment in Ukraine. Beyond this terrible conflict in Eastern Europe, the Patriot will likely gain enormous relevancy.
After all, it’s not just the Russians that have demonstrated worrying belligerence. If the Doomsday Clock ever ticks to midnight, at least the U.S. and its allies will be prepared. Currently, Wall Street analyst rate RTX as a consensus moderate buy.
NextEra Energy (NEE)
A significant reason why the Doomsday Clock moved the closest to utter doom is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, it’s also fair to point out that such an audacious move may not have materialized if the west wasn’t so dependent on hydrocarbons. If Russia didn’t have such enormous leverage on particularly west European countries, it would have thought twice.
Now that such dependencies forced a wake-up call, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) may be one of the best stocks to buy. As one of the biggest investors in renewable energy infrastructures, NextEra aims to ultimately foster energy independence. This way, countries won’t have to overwhelmingly capitalize on nations with questionable intentions. As well, the subsequent loss of economic power will cause belligerent countries to rethink their aggressiveness.
Almost as a bonus, NextEra can foster superior outcomes for the environment. It’s important to note that hydrocarbons may not ever go away. Still, we can reduce our dependency on them, making NEE one of the stocks to buy at midnight hour.
NuScale Power (SMR)
Mentioning nuclear power specialist NuScale Power (NYSE:SMR) in a story about stocks to buy in the shadow of the Doomsday Clock presents all kinds of irony. Conspicuously, the threat of nuclear warfare undergirded the creation of the clock itself. Still, it’s important to remember one scientific reality: nuclear is a zero-emission clean energy source.
As well, nothing comes close to the energy density of nuclear power. Per the Nuclear Energy Institute, one uranium fuel pellet has as much energy potential as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 149 gallons of oil or one ton of coal. Pound for pound, you’re not going to get anything close to this magnitude of density from any other source.
Therefore, the question comes down to safe and effective operation. With NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) facilities, nuclear energy networks can be installed much closer to the source of demand. Further, SMRs feature state-of-the-art safety protocols, helping to put minds at ease. For forward-thinking investors, it’s one of the stocks to buy.
As a multinational food manufacturing company, Kellogg (NYSE:K) basically offers permanent relevance. After all, no matter how advanced we become, people will still need to eat. In many ways, then, Kellogg benefits from inelastic demand. That is, no matter what’s going on with the economy, people will fork over money for a minimum of sustenance.
However, under the context of the Doomsday Clock, Kellogg ranks among the stocks to buy for its plant-based meat division. Called Incogmeato, the company follows the trend set by other pure-play leaders in the space. Nevertheless, the advantage that Kellogg holds centers on economies of scale. Essentially, the pure plays suffered badly because their products ring up more expensively than their real-meat counterparts.
Naturally, the size of the Kellogg juggernaut makes Incogmeato a more credible competitor in the plant-based meat space. And as meatless alternatives integrate into the wider food value chain, they can possibly promote superior climate outcomes. Therefore, K represents one of the stocks to buy to mitigate the Doomsday Clock.
Back during the chaos of 2020 when the U.S. not only struggled with the coronavirus but also deeply seated social issues and inequities, Unilever (NYSE:UL) stepped forward and issued a commitment to racial justice. Part of its broad initiatives included financial support for social justice activist organizations. As well, Unilever implemented internal diversity programs to actively bolster underprivileged communities.
For those that followed Unilever over the years, its response to the social climate of Covid-19 wasn’t surprising. A few years ago, the company in conjunction with other enterprises launched programs to help promote peace in conflict zones. While the Doomsday Clock may be heading toward disaster, Unilever isn’t sitting around, constantly promoting various initiatives to better the condition of humanity.
Now, I’m not naïve to the fact that Unilever also attracted criticism for being “woke” or pandering to progressive ideologies. Still, it’s one of the few capitalistic enterprises putting its money where its mouth is. If you believe in investing for the greater good, UL represents one of the stocks to buy.
Home Depot (HD)
If the climate-related disasters inherent in the Doomsday Clock reaching judgment day ever materializes – obviously, not much can be done about the nuclear component – then Home Depot (NYSE:HD) offers an intriguing choice for stocks to buy. While other companies like NextEra Energy promote initiatives that should mitigate negative environmental developments, Home Depot could potentially benefit from inclement weather conditions.
Now, please hear me out: I’m not saying that if Oklahoma-style tornadoes become an everyday occurrence in places like say, Los Angeles, California, that Home Depot will benefit. Rather, if we incur manageable weather events at greater frequency, then HD could become one of the stocks to buy.
Cynically, sales at the home-improvement retailer increased in years of devastating natural disasters. As well, even mundane events – such as warmer weather – boosted demand for HD.
Currently, Wall Street analysts rate Home Depot as a consensus moderate buy. And who knows? If the Mother Nature portion of the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight, HD shareholders might party like it’s 1999.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.