BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Most of the world's wealthiest people have no conception that the rest of us have been living in a gut-wrenching recession for the past three years.
Just look at their profligate spending: $400 for skin-tight, ripped blue jeans, $68 for a rubber mat to perform the ascetic practice of yoga, $9,000 for diamond earrings that look like chandeliers, and $100,000-plus for a car when the average American home sells for $260,000.
Investors have taken note of this as shares of many luxury-goods purveyors are up by double-digits over the past three months.For example, the leisure-goods sector, as tracked by Morningstar, has risen 16.7% over the past three months and an annual average of 45% over the past three years, so the latest rally could be sustainable. So why fight it? Consider it an investment opportunity and buy stocks that have benefited from what is a consistently strong trend: wealthy people, especially the noveau riche, paying up for name-brand goods. A key factor for most of the luxury-goods sellers, and what bodes well for their futures, is that demand for brand-name, and what some call "aspirational" goods that suggest wealth, is booming in emerging market countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, in particular. Here are nine stocks that are benefiting from demand for their expensive products or services: Wyndham Worldwide (WYN - Get Report) Company profile: Wyndham is the world's largest operator of time shares, rentals and luxury hotels. Share performance: up 31% in the past three months; 28% in 2011; three-year average annual return of 68%. Investor takeaway: Morningstar found a unanimous eight "buy" ratings for its shares in a survey of analysts. The company has been taking care of shareholders as it set aside $600 million for share buybacks in 2011 and has the potential to reduce total shares outstanding by more than 15% over the next several years. It has also increased dividends per share more than three-fold since 2008," Morningstar said.