Amidst the bombast, braggadocio and fact-free claims of the 2016 presidential campaign, perhaps the most effective was the subtext contained in President Trump’s incessantly cited mantra, “Make America Great Again.”
The implication of this successful sonnet of sloganism is that America is not great, at least not in its current iteration. And while certainly an effectual rhetorical rallying point for the most disaffected voters, the claim fails to hold up to scrutiny when one takes a more lucid view of the corporate and investing landscape.
Indeed, there are scores of companies, and scores of stocks to own, that already make America great. These are the companies that make the products and services that Americans organize their lives around. Creators of communication devices, social media networks and information retrieval services are just a few of the brilliant achievements of entrepreneurial Americans that have made the country great through the genius of their ideas.
They’re also among the top companies, and the top stocks, that make our nation great for investors. If you want to feel good about the country, and about the prospects for long-term portfolio performance, here are 10 stocks to own that already make America great.
Stocks to Buy: Boeing (BA)
Premier American aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) also is one of the largest defense contractors in the U.S. The company supplies Western military forces with the F-15 and F-18 fighter jets, which also are capable of precision strategic bombing runs crucial to defeating enemies such as the Islamic State.
Just check out this footage of an F-18 delivering ISIS fighters a dead-on strike with a 500-lb laser guided bomb [Graphic content warning] and you’ll be convinced of the efficacy of its fighter jets in the effort against a determined, well-funded and ideologically inspired army.
Yet Boeing is far more than just a builder of military hardware. The company’s iconic “7 Series” passenger jets — the 747, 737, 777 and 787 — have allowed not just Americans, but travelers worldwide to speed off to their destinations safely, and in style. If you want evidence of American corporate greatness, just look to the sky near any major metropolitan airport. You’re sure to spot the greatness of Boeing in flight.
Stocks to Buy: Amazon.com (AMZN)
Online seller of everything Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been making America great for nearly 23 years. The brainchild of CEO Jeff Bezos began life as a hub where avid readers could get the latest novels, and discover both new and old works that would appeal to their tastes.
That formula worked not only for literature, but for everything from music, film, video games, electronics, clothing, toys, toothpaste … and just about anything else one can require or desire.
Amazon.com’s relatively recent foray into the cloud computing business has been an unequivocal success, with the company raking in some $3.2 billion in cloud computing revenue in the third quarter of 2016.
That figure was up 55% from the same quarter the year prior. Amazon’s web services business proves that not only does the company make America great by delivering the products we want right to our door, it also makes possible many of the e-commerce sites the American — and global — economy relies on to function smoothly.
Stocks to Buy: Apple (AAPL)
The ubiquity, efficacy, ease of operation, quality, sophisticated industrial design and just outright aesthetic beauty of the company’s products is a feat of entrepreneurial genius that on its own can be cited as a “drop-the-mic” reason why America already deserves the greatness title.
The company’s iconic products — the Mac, iPod, iPad and iPhone — all have transformed the way not only Americans live, but also the way most of the developed and developing nations live. AAPL stock ran into a slowdown for much of 2016, but since Election Day, Wall Street has made Apple shares great again, with a surge of more than 10%.
Investors are clearly betting on the continued upside likely to come with the release of the company’s 10th-anniversary iPhone. If you want proof America is already great, just check your iMessages.
Stocks to Buy: Facebook (FB)
Social media pioneer Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is a relatively recent entry into the ranks of companies making America great, and it’s done so by the sheer disruptive power of its product.
The creation of CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the kind of game-changing invention that comes along infrequently, but when it does it’s hard to see how we ever got along without it.
From connecting with old friends to staying in contact with relatives; and from discovering new interests, nurturing hobbies and networking with others who share similar worldviews, Facebook has become an essential part of the American (and global) experience.
Ironically, Facebook’s flap with “fake news” and its ranking of certain news stories was an issue in the presidential campaign. Yet Facebook also was cited by President Trump as a key to his victory, as he told CBS’ 60 Minutes that the power of his following on the social media giant helped him win key races where he was outspent by his opponent.
So, Facebook not only already makes America great, it also made President Trump’s campaign a winner.
Stocks to Buy: Goldman Sachs (GS)
If you were asked to compile a list of the “Big Banks” that have financed America’s growth, as well as her ascension to greatness, it’s hard not to start with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS).
The premier investment bank has been at the center of the financial world since the reparative, post-Civil War years, when it helped finance America’s rebirth beginning in 1869.
Since then the company has had a storied history of providing the capital, as well as the financial framework, that’s nurtured the rise of the greatest capitalist experiment in history.
In another example of Trumpian irony, the president criticized the banks — and specifically Goldman Sachs — for transgressions that caused the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008. Yet who did Trump turn to for key positions in his campaign and in his cabinet? You guessed it, numerous Goldman Sachs alumni.
The moral of the story here is that when you want your own administration to be great, you turn to those who have done great things at one of the greatest American financial institutions.
Stocks to Buy: Alphabet (GOOGL)
Perhaps the only thing not great about Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), better known as Google, is its ghastly choice of new moniker. Yet despite its ill-fitting name, Alphabet’s core product — the Google search engine — has already made information-seeking America great.
Founded by then-Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were at Stanford University, the tech entrepreneurs leveraged the PC and internet explosion and created the go-to source for information on just about anything imaginable.
Its corporate mission, to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, has long been accomplished. And though Google has only been in existence for less than 20 years, like Facebook, it also has become an essential part of the American and the international experience.
Just try to go more than a few days without using Google. It’s nearly impossible, especially if you are someone who loves knowing things.
Stocks to Buy: Disney (DIS)
Anyone who has grown up in America since the 1940s, or who has reared children or grandchildren over the past five decades, knows all-too-well the draw that is the Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS).
Purveyors of iconic American characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Snow White and so many others, the company has built a media and entertainment empire by knowing what Americans (and the world) want to see.
Disney’s relatively recent acquisition of the Star Wars franchise is proof of the company’s commitment to remaining the leader in providing entertainment with the broadest appeal.
Founded on the genius of Walt Disney the man, the Disney Company was set up to be a dream factory capable of igniting children’s imaginations all over the world. It’s safe to say that it has done just that, and that it will remain great long after President Trump has completed his tenure in the Oval Office.
Stocks to Buy: American Express (AXP)
When “American” is part of your name, it’s easy to make the short hop of logic needed to proclaim American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) a company that’s already making America great. Indeed, the credit card issuer, and Dow Jones component, offers what is arguably the best customer service in the financial services industry.
Moreover, it’s an aspirational brand that pulls at the capitalist heart strings of nearly every American set on achieving financial prowess. For those who’ve experienced it, how can you forget being approved for your first American Express card? That grant signifies an arrival of sorts into an honored clubhouse of the financially fit.
Here, too, irony and the Trump administration once again collide. If President Trump and the Republican Congress can get personal tax reform passed, American Express shares may be the biggest beneficiary. The reason why is because higher income and higher net worth consumers tend to use American Express more than rival credit cards.
As such, a reduction in marginal tax rates for the nation’s top earners would likely translate into increased spending via AmEx — which would funnel down directly to AXP shares.
Stocks to Buy: Caterpillar (CAT)
The makers of earth-shaping equipment have literally transformed the American landscape into man’s image, a feat that on its own qualifies Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) for a spot on the 10 stocks that already make America great.
The unmistakable CAT brand is responsible for helping more builders erect more homes, shopping centers, office buildings, roads, bridges and dams than any government infrastructure project could ever do.
In fact, any effort to make America’s infrastructure great again would likely start with a whole lot of equipment from Caterpillar, as its heavy machinery is an integral part of massive build outs here at home, and worldwide.
The CAT brand also is seen as a sort of badge of honor in the developing world, as developing nations seek to build their infrastructure in the image of the American landscape. To the rest of the world, America is already great … and they often use Caterpillar equipment to help their own nations look like us.
Stocks to Buy: Tesla Motors (TSLA)
While these storied brands could themselves be on any list of stocks that already make America great, one new car company embodies all of the entrepreneurial and innovative genius that’s at the heart of what makes America special. That company is Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA).
The brainchild of the ceaselessly creative Elon Musk, Tesla has proven that luxury, performance and the lack of an internal combustion engine can be a splendid marriage; one never lacking in operator excitement. In fact, the experience of driving the posh, powerful and eminently smooth Model S through traffic is akin to what it must be like piloting a modern fighter jet through a formation of P-51 Mustangs.
And while the World War II fighter helped make America great by vanquishing her enemies in aerial combat, Tesla’s Model S, Model X and Model 3 are clearing a new path for automotive technology — technology that could be the American and global standard in decades to come.
As of this writing, Jim Woods was long AMZN, FB, GS and TSLA stock.