Commodity stocks, specifically crude oil investments and agriculture stocks, are in focus right now. If the global economy is to keep growing, industrial consumers from Shanghai to Shreveport will need to buy raw materials. That means commodity investments could be very profitable in the next few months if economic indicators point upwards. Then again, crude oil prices have withdrawn a bit lately and some are afraid calls of a rebound are overdone -- and that we are due for another retest. So what's the story with commodity stocks? A few of our top InvestorPlace experts weigh in with their favorite companies in a variety of commodity-related industries from timber to crude oil to agriculture.
LINN Energy (LINE)
Recommendation by: Bryan Perry, editor of Cash Machine The decline in oil prices provoked some selling in the energy MLPs these past couple of weeks. But LINN Energy ( LINE) has locked in crude prices for 100% of their oil production at $102 per barrel and gas production at $8.30 per mcf for the next two years! That means that even if commodity prices stay soft than this stock will be flying high. So lock in a 9.80% current yield and pick up LINE no matter where crude oil is trading right now.
Recommendation by: Richard Young, editor of Intelligence ReportRayonier ( RYN) owns, leases, or manages 2.4 million acres of timberlands in the U.S. and New Zealand. The close proximity of New Zealand to the insatiable appetite for lumber from Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea is one benefit of Rayonier's business model. But Rayonier also adds real value to its timber by converting it into performance fibers for products ranging from LCD screens to disposable diapers. This is not your typical timber stock! My relative-strength chart for Rayonier shows its strong outperformance of the S&P 500 since 2007. Buy today.
Recommendation by: Richard Band, editor of Profitable Investing Among the multinational oils, Paris-based Total ( TOT) boasts a superior exploration record and an eye-popping 6.4% yield. Any investor concerned about the long-term outlook for inflation needs an insurance policy written in oil -- and this one comes cheap at just 7X this year's projected earnings. I'm not alone, by the way, in my enthusiasm for TOT. The stock currently ranks among the 10 largest holdings of American Century Equity Income Fund ( TWEIX), a top-performing mutual fund I've often recommended for income investors. If you can't buy TOT stock, buy this fund -- but if you're investing in equities, you'll find no better commodity stock than Total right now.
Recommended by: Robert Hsu, editor of China StrategyChina National Offshore Oil Corporation ( CEO) continues to benefit from BP's disaster in the Gulf. Currently, CNOOC is in talks with BP ( BP) to buy 60% of its shares in Pan American Energy, Argentina's second-largest oil producer. CEO acquired a 20% stake in Pan American earlier this year from Argentina's Bridas for $3.1 billion, which values BP's stake at about $9 billion. BP has said it is looking to sell off about $10 billion in assets over the next year in order to raise cash for expenses related to the Gulf spill. Keep an eye on this deal and expect that it could be fairly bullish for CNOOC if it goes through. No matter what happens to crude, you can be bullish on this commodity stock.
Reynolds America (RAI)
Recommended by: Louis Navellier, editor of Blue chip GrowthReynolds American ( RAI) is not your typical large-cap commodity stock. First off, RAI stock yields a hefty 6.7% dividend yield. Secondly, as a tobacco company, this commodity play is more beholden to regulations than it is to typical agricultural trends such as harvest size and wide swings in demand. Reynolds American's RJR Tobacco unit boasts five of the 10 best-selling brands of cigarettes in the U.S., namely Camel, Kool, Pall Mall, Doral and Winston. These cash cows provide a reliable income stream more akin to a utility stock than an agricultural play! In the first quarter, the company's net income was $85 million compared with $8 million during the same period in 2009. This is growth you can bank on regardless of broader market trends.
Recommendation by: Richard Young, editor of Intelligence Report As the price of wood pulp continues to rise well above its prerecession highs, you can expect timber companies to add to their tree-harvesting capacity. There is no better tree-felling machine than the Deere & Company ( DE) 959K. The K-Series will be bought by the timber companies that want to get the most for their money. Luxury operators' cabins on the felling machines allow loggers to stay in the seat longer hours and remain productive -- keeping companies output high and balance sheet profitable. And loads of power and easy maintenance make the 959K best in its class. My technical analysis shows a shallow consolidation in Deere shares, giving investors a great buying opportunity.
Covenant Transport (CVTI)
Recommendation by: Nancy Zambell, editor of Buried Treasures Under $10 If you want to cash in on commodities, the best way to do that is to cash in on the shipping stocks that tote those goods around. My favorite freight play right now is Covenant Transport ( CVTI), a young trucking company that's only been around since 1986, but already it occupies the top 10% of trucking companies nationwide. The company began operations with just 25 trucks and 50 trailers, but by the end of 2009 the company operated 3,113 tractors and 8,005 trailers. The company's five largest customers are Estes Express Lines, Georgia Pacific, Transplace, UPS ( UPS) and Walmart ( WMT). As the economy improves, I expect more demand for trucking services. I also expect freight rates to gradually increase along with increased demand. That will really bump up CVTI's bottom line -- as well as its share price. Full disclosure: At the time of publication, each one of these InvestorPlace experts were recommending these stocks in their own respective newsletters.