NEW YORK ( Stockpickr) -- If you a draw a straight line north from Texas to the Canadian border, you'll track a big splotch of red. That's the area where the U.S. is simply parched. Several years of subpar precipitation have led to increasingly arid growing conditions, and as of recently, the land was even more parched than it was a year ago. That means this summer's drought may be worse than the already brutal drought of 2012. As an investor, you need to track the drought's implications. A range of companies will be clearly vulnerable to reduced spending by farmers, while other firms will actually stand to benefit.
Here are four companies that could be strongly impacted -- positively or negatively -- by the persistent U.S. drought.
BungeThe U.S drought reduces crop yields, which means that U.S. has fewer crops available for export. That's good news for other countries' farmers, who can make up the shortfall. Bunge ( BG) has a dominant presence in Brazil, where it acts as a middle man between farmers and food processors. Bunge processes corn, soybeans and other crops, and firm prices and output in Brazil mean rising profit spreads for this firm. Though Bunge's sales are expected to rise a moderate 9% this year (to around $66 billion), the profit margin on those sales should be far higher in 2013. That's why analysts expect per-share profits to rise nearly 60% this year to around $7.30 a share. Further margin gains should push EPS above $8 by next year, according to consensus forecasts. And in light of this stock's nearly 20% pullback since early February to a recent $66, the value case has only strengthened. Analysts at Citigroup seep this stock moving up to their $105 12-month price target. Lindsay The painful drought has brought home a clear message to farmers: Use every drop of water as if it were your last. To conserve water, many farmers are turning to Lindsay ( LNN), which makes highly efficient irrigation equipment. You may have seen Lindsay's long pivoting arms dispensing water over a field of crops as you drive by. The company's sales base doubled from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2012 (to about $560 million), and analysts expect sales to rise by 20% this year.