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How to Profit From the Oil Spill Outrage

Stocks in this article: BP NLC CLH

NEW YORK ( Stockpickr) -- From an environmental perspective, there's no question that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill being battled in the Gulf of Mexico is a serious disaster. And from a financial perspective, the spill has already taken a serious toll on a handful of companies that were involved with the rig, as well as on industries such as fishing and chemical manufacturing that operate in the Gulf. But some stocks actually stand to benefit from the oil spill that's at the forefront of the national news.

Here's a look at how you should position your portfolio to profit from the recovery.

Scores of blue chip stocks were caught up in the oil fiasco. From BP (BP), which leased the rig that was doing the drilling, to Transocean (RIG), the rig's owner, to Halliburton (HAL), which was responsible for the complicated cementing process on the ocean floor, nearly all of the stocks involved in the operation have seen their share prices tumble for fears of substantial legal liabilities. With President Obama's announcement that those who caused the disaster would be on the hook for cleanup costs -- estimated by some to be in the tens of billions of dollars -- it's no surprise that the stocks are facing selling pressure.

Who Owns Transocean?
But some stocks could actually benefit from their roles in cleaning up the spill.

Environmental services firm Clean Harbors (CLH) rocketed following news late last month that the company had dispatched around 300 employees to aid in spill cleanup in the Gulf. But the stock quickly gave back most of those gains after a reserved earnings call yesterday on which management reiterated the fact that it's not yet sure how the spill could impact Clean Harbors' 2010 numbers.

The Clean Harbors selloff could be premature. Because of the high costs of emergency waste cleanups, it's likely that the activities in the Gulf will have a materially positive impact on the company's numbers for the next few quarters. And because those services are time sensitive, it's likely that they'll help to expand margins this year.

Now that the irrational exuberance over Clean Harbors has been largely reversed, this could be a good time to bet on the company -- particularly if management decides to guide above previous estimates between now and its next earnings call.

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