7 Billion People, 3 Great Stocks

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Say hello to Danica May Camacho. She became the 7 billionth person on planet Earth last Monday.

The past 50 years have been quite literally a very fruitful time for mankind. Back in 1961, the global population was approximately 3 billion. Now we've cleared the 7 billion mark, thereby increasing the population by approximately 133% over a relatively short time (geologically speaking, of course).

As population continues to grow, there will be more and more economic activity. And we believe that stocks will remain the best way to play this important trend over the very long run. With that in mind, we asked some of our top analysts for their best stock ideas for benefiting from the global population boom.

David Meier, associate advisor, Million Dollar Portfolio
My Internet browser can take me anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. And it has the power to connect me with everyone else in the network. So as the world's population increases, more connections will be made.

Connections require data to pass through the various digital networks that scatter the globe. As more people consume more data to remain connected 24-7, networks are going to have to be faster and more efficient. Infinera (NAS: INFN) has created a new technology that will help today's networks meeting tomorrow's needs: the photonic integrated circuit (PIC).

Today's PICs can move data at speeds of 10 gigabits per second. Next year, Infinera will launch its newest product, with speeds of 100 gigabits per second. This jump in technological performance will help networks operate more quickly and efficiently and with lower costs. The company isn't a customer yet, but Verizon (NYS: VZ) saw enough promise in the PIC technology to speak at Infinera's investor-day presentation in September. Verizon's challenges will only get tougher as the population grows. Fortunately, Infinera looks to have the solution to a more connected world.

Mike Olsen, CFA, senior analyst, Motley Fool Special Ops
If LA Gear and Reebok Pumps were the new things in high-top sneakers in the late '80s, then offshore, deepwater drilling is the new thing in oil in recent years. Except it probably won't be exiting stage left quite as quickly as new trends in sneakers.

I'm pretty firmly of the contention that unless forced -- and somewhat brutishly -- humans aren't particularly likely to change ingrained behaviors. And this is especially true when it comes to our consumption of oil. Economic incentives for reducing this consumption are just not there, in light of the huge installed infrastructure across the developed world and still-high cost of alternatives.

As the population continues to grow at a fairly rapid rate, it's quite natural to wonder where we will get the additional oil to keep up with increasing demand. Onshore oil reserves have been all but exhausted, with the notable exception of so-called oil shales. That leaves one option for feeding our oil addiction: offshore drilling, and, most notably, deepwater offshore drilling. And my favorite choice is Ensco (NYS: ESV) .

Why Ensco? Well, a few reasons. First, it has a cadre of shiny new deepwater rigs, which should enable it to capitalize on increasing demand for deepwater rigs. The new part is also key, in my opinion. In a post-Macondo world, safety is paramount when it comes to minimizing rig downtime and commanding higher rates. Where competitor Transocean's (NYS: RIG) fleet is comparatively older, Ensco's newer rigs appear to deliver on what is desired in the current environment. Another attractive feature of Ensco is its merger with Pride, which will allow it to benefit from industry consolidation. It may also be able to squeeze cost out of Pride, since its gross margins trailed those of Ensco by 10 percentage points.

By my measure, Ensco is a great way to make your wallet grow faster than the population.

Jason Moser, research analyst, Stock Advisor
Joy Global
(NAS: JOYG) operates P&H Mining Equipment, the world's largest producer of electric mining shovels, and Joy Mining, the world's largest producer of underground mining machinery for the extraction of coal and other materials. With more than two-thirds of revenues coming from its coal-mining customers and more than 40% of total revenues coming from outside the U.S. and Europe, I hear global opportunity knocking at the door.

You're probably saying, "Coal? Really? Isn't that like, polluting or something?" Granted, there's an argument to be made here to a degree. But think about this: The International Energy Outlook 2011 projects that going out to the year 2035, coal consumption for OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations will remain essentially flat. However non-OECD nations (like China and India) are another story; projections there are for coal consumption growth of 76%. Further, over the entire period from 2008 to 2035, coal is projected to account for more than one-third of total non-OECD energy consumption. India and China both continue to import more thermal and metallurgical coal as well, thanks to continued development and significant infrastructure programs in both countries' next-five-year plans.

And the miners themselves are starting to ramp up production, too. Companies like Freeport-McMoRan (NYS: FCX) , BHP Biliton (NYS: BHP) , and Rio Tinto are all spending more on capital expenditures thanks to increasing demand. And it's miners like these that use the very products that Joy Global provides. The bottom line here is that as the world's population booms, affordable energy and infrastructure will be needed to sustain it, particularly in emerging markets. And while Joy Global may see a little volatility along the way, I see it as a big winner in the long run.

Back to the future
The past 50 years were one of the most remarkable time periods in all of human history. The next 50 years promise to be equally breathtaking, and no trend will be bigger during that time than the continued global population boom.

If you'd like to profit from that trend, then you might want to consider taking a closer look at the stocks mentioned here. If you'd like to read more about a few additional stocks that should also benefit from future economic trends, then consider having a look at one of our most recent free reports.

At the time this article was published John Reeves owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.The Motley Fool owns shares of Ensco, Infinera, Freeport-McMoRan, Transocean, and Joy Global.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Infinera. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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