The Basic Needs Portfolio

The Basic Needs Portfolio

In May, I announced my intention to create a portfolio that embodied life's basic needs. To that end, over a period of 10 weeks I detailed 10 diverse companies that I think will outperform the broad-based S&P 500 over a three-year period because of their ability to outperform in both bull and bear markets, as well as command incredible pricing power in nearly any economic environment.

If you'd like a closer look at my reasoning behind each selection, just click on any, or all, of the following portfolio components:

Let's look at how our portfolio of basic-needs stocks fared last week.


Cost Basis


Total Value


Waste Management










NextEra Energy















Select Medical










American Water Works





Procter & Gamble





AvalonBay Communities







Dividends receivable


Total commission


Original investment


S&P 500 performance


Performance relative to S&P 500


Source: Yahoo! Finance; author's calculations.

Earnings galore
In the midst of earnings season, four quarterly reports highlight the most pertinent news over the past week.

Starting the week off on a positive note, refuse and recycling giant Waste Management reported better-than-expected third-quarter results before the bell on Tuesday. For the quarter, Waste Management saw its revenue climb just less than 5% to $3.62 billion as net income grew 30% to $291 million, or an adjusted $0.65 in EPS. By comparison, the Street had forecast EPS of just $0.62. Overall, Waste Management improved its gross margin by 150 basis points as its collection and disposal yield improved for a fifth straight quarter to 2.3%. Waste Management is still struggling with lower metal-recycling rates, but its notably improved collection and disposal yield allowed it to raise its free-cash-flow forecast for the remainder of the year by $100 million to a range of $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion. I see no red flags in Waste Management's report that higher metal prices wouldn't cure.

Payment processing facilitator MasterCard also continued its streak of crushing analysts' estimates on Thursday when it reported its third-quarter results. During the quarter, MasterCard managed to deliver 16% revenue growth to $2.22 billion as net income jumped 14% and adjusted EPS climbed 18% to $7.27 -- $0.33 higher than the consensus estimates. Cross-country process transactions (i.e., those outside the U.S.) were the big story here with overall growth of 19%. A 21.9% increase in debit card purchasing volume outside the U.S. was another major growth-driver. With the majority of the world's transactions still being conducted in cash, MasterCard has what I see as a multidecade opportunity to grow at double-digit rates and hit its many untapped markets.

Also on Thursday, hospital and outpatient rehabilitation center operator Select Medical reported a 1.3% increase in revenue to $722.8 million despite the fact that a 2% drop in Medicare reimbursement rates became effective earlier this year. But the reduction in reimbursement rates did hamper Select Medical's net income, which fell by 3.3% from the year-ago period to $23.3 million. On an adjusted basis, Select Medical's quarterly EPS of $0.17 missed the Street's expectations by $0.02, but the company was able to reaffirm its prior full-year guidance, much to the delight of existing shareholders. The transition into Obamacare is certain to come with some bumps, but the expected boost in insured patients, which should reduce Select Medical's doubtful revenue, is well worth the slight reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates.

Finally, on Friday the nation's leading alternative-energy electric utility, NextEra Energy , reported its third-quarter results -- and let's just say it was a nice way to end the week! For the quarter, NextEra reported profit growth of 68% as its adjusted EPS improved to $1.64 from $0.98 in the year-ago period. Revenue also improved 14% to $4.39 billion. Although revenue was a smidge below estimates of $4.42 billion, NextEra's EPS crushed expectations by $0.25. Furthermore, NextEra guided its fiscal 2013 forecast toward the high end of its previous estimates and introduced EPS projections of $5.05 to $5.45 next year. Although alternative energy investments cost a small fortune upfront, NextEra will be set up for lower long-term energy costs than most of its peers over the next decade.

Motoring on
It wasn't earnings time for Ford , but the automaker impressed nonetheless by reporting that its retail sales for October jumped by 14% -- its best October performance in nine years. Sales of the company's Ford Fusion advanced 71%, while its F-Series pickups continue to outperform, with unit sales topping 60,000 for a sixth consecutive month. What's really impressive about these October sales results is that they follow a sizable month-over-month decline in consumer confidence, which proves to me that Ford's styling, price points, and improved fuel efficiency are really hitting home with the U.S. consumer.

Back to basics
Despite what I'd consider four relatively strong earnings reports, it wasn't enough to keep the portfolio from losing ground to the S&P 500 this week. Let's keep in mind that we're approaching another round of dividend payments here shortly, so we have plenty of positives to look forward to. In addition, these 10 companies are clearly delivering stable cash flow and positive organic growth, which is really all you can ask for as an investor. Over time, I remain confident that these 10 basic-needs stocks will handily outperform the S&P 500.

Check back next week for the latest update on this portfolio and its 10 components.

The not-so-secret way to get rich
If there's one thing you'll notice about basic-needs stocks, it's that most pay a dividend -- and dividend stocks can make you rich.
While they don't garner the notoriety of highflying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of their quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts identified nine rock-solid dividend stocks in this free report. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.

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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Ford, Intel, MasterCard, and Waste Management. It also recommends Chevron and Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published