NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With concerns over high debt levels in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain continuing to grip the markets, here are five companies that should perform well even if the Euro's problems persist.
Brazil is coming into its own as an economy that can withstand shocks elsewhere in the world. The country's largest publicly traded bank, Banco Itau, is well positioned to benefit from continuing growth in the country as more Brazilians enter the middle class and begin using credit cards and taking out mortgages.
Banco Itau is especially well-positioned to withstand global shocks since it does about 90% of its business in Brazil. It has looked at acquisition targets, such as
's Banamex unit in Mexico, but Brazil's fortunes are likely to remain the major driver of earnings for the forseeable future. Banco Itau also has a strong capital position and trades at just 12.5 times 2010 estimates.
For the most part, a weak Euro means a strong dollar, and a strong dollar can hurt sales for global basic materials companies such as
If you want exposure to this sector while protecting yourself from currency volatility, Vulcan Materials may be an interesting play.
Vulcan sells construction materials like crushed stone, sand and gravel for building highways and similar projects. However, its customers are based in the United States and generally won't be affected by a stronger dollar.
Vulcan sells at a huge multiple of 42 times 2011 earnings and more than 270 times trailing earnings, but road-building projects look to get a boost from Congress, and after a tough winter "there are a lot of roads that need to be rebuilt," says Tim Ghriskey, CIO of The Solaris Group, which owns Vulcan shares.
Clean water is expected to be an ever-scarcer commodity in the coming decades. The World Bank estimates that 2 billion people currently lack access to clean water, and the problem affects not only poor countries, but the United States, Europe and fast-growing economies like China. Given those expectations, 14.32 times 2011 earnings seems like a reasonable price to pay for Nalco, possibly the world's largest water treatment company.
Nalco does business in 130 countries around the world, and while it has exposure to Europe, the services it provides are too important for Europeans to go without.
Troubles in Europe have been accompanied by new records in gold prices. As the world's largest gold producer, Newmont is an easy way to take advantage of strength in gold.
And while Newmont has outperformed the popular gold ETF,
, over the past year, the mining company still trades at less than 17 times trailing earnings. That's pretty close to the average for the S&P, and it looks cheap if gold prices stay at these levels for a sustained period.
People in the U.S. are owning more pets and spending more money on them. Younger couples that put off having children often get pets for practice. Older couples whose children have moved out of the house are increasingly looking to pets to keep them company. Medicines and even surgeries once reserved for humans are increasingly commonplace among our animal friends.
All of these trends are good reasons to invest in Petsmart, the largest retail pet store in the United States and Canada. Petsmart has no exposure to Europe, so owning stock in this company is a nice way to ride out the market tremors over the debt crisis there. At 18 times 2010 estimates and 15 times 2011 earnings, the market appears to be underestimating growth opportunities for Petsmart.
Written by Dan Freed in New York