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These stocks could win no matter who gets the White House

Donald Trump makes a speech on board the USS Iowa on Sept 15, 2015 (l). Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions 2016 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016.
Getty Images (l) | Reuters (r).
Donald Trump makes a speech on board the USS Iowa on Sept 15, 2015 (l). Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions 2016 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016.

The road to the White House is filled with promises, but both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would remain committed to spending that benefits two key sectors after taking office.

"The way I think investors are thinking about this election is infrastructure [spending] is going to go up no matter who gets elected. Defense is going up no matter who gets elected," said Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas.

The rest is less clear, with Trump's positions fuzzy on many topics, and Clinton is seen leaning a bit more left of center than she might otherwise were it not for her continued run against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump has said he will make tax reform a priority, and that could help multinationals. Clinton has clearly made a stand on drug pricing, and that could hurt pharmaceuticals, while Trump opposes Obamacare so that may impact managed care companies. Clinton is likely to continue the Obama Administration's position on renewable energy, while Trump has not articulated a clear energy policy.

"I'm looking at two very different fiscal policies, where the Trump plan is focused on corporate tax reform, and the Hillary plan is focused on infrastructure development," said Clifton.

Trump is quickly identified with infrastructure and defense. In his victory speech in Indiana Tuesday where he secured the lead in the GOP race, he vowed to spend to rebuild America's bridges and highways and to "take out ISIS."

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"The defense sector is going to remain hot irrespective of who is commander-in-chief," said Kim Wallace, head of Washington policy research at Renaissance Macro. Wallace said the stocks of defense contractors began to move higher when it looked like President Obama would take action on Syria in 2013, and his firm has been positive on them for the past seven quarters.

Wallace said the funding for that activity shows up in the overseas contingent operating account, not the Pentagon budget. Spending expanded to $74 billion this year from $60 billion last year. "It's hard to see it going down," he said.

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Whether fundamentally warranted or not, defense stocks started moving higher in 2013, said Wallace. Northrop Grumman has gained more than 200 percent since the start of 2013, and both Lockheed and Raytheon have more than doubled.

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"The one clear winner, whether it's Trump or Hillary, is the defense stocks. She would have to show she's really quite hawkish. I think there would be a very robust foreign policy and defense stocks will do well, and I think with him as well," said Greg Valliere, chief strategist with Horizon Investments. Valliere said both Clinton and Trump could be tested by some conflict as soon as they take office.

Infrastructure stocks have already been rising, but spending could get a boost from new packages from each candidate. Congress has passed a five-year, $300 billion highway bill that will be distributed in the second half of the year and early next year, and stocks have been moving in anticipation, according to Clifton.

Vulcan Materials, Granite Construction, Fluor, Gibraltar Industries, Jacob Engineering and Martin Marietta Materials are all names in Strategas' infrastructure index.

"The Democratic infrastructure plan seems to revolve around the idea that it's not just highways, it's ports, airports. They're turning it into a jobs program," said Clifton.

Wallace said starting with former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, central bankers around the world have been calling for governments to implement fiscal plans since monetary policy alone has failed to jump-start growth.

"They're all saying the same thing: 'Monetary policy won't save the world. Monetary policy buys you time,'" he said.

Wallace said whatever the candidates do, they will be faced with issues such as entitlement spending. "Based on the CBO's [Congressional Budget Office's] projections, by 2022, using current law, no change, we have 120-125 percent debt to GDP," Wallace said. "All of the president's policy is going to be pressed by that real fact. You have to have some sense of what they are going to do on both sides of the ledger and what their outlook is for reducing debt into the future."

"If the next president gets Congress to participate in measured sequential deficit reduction, we won't have to worry on the macro economic side," said Wallace. He said that would help companies that have been reluctant to spend.


Trump has said he would overhaul corporate taxes. Valliere said Trump's plan would probably allow corporations to bring cash back to the U.S. at a lower tax rate. But Clinton is more inclined to give corporations a one-time tax holiday to bring back their overseas cash.

The financial sector is one area where views are mixed on how Clinton and Trump would impact different types of institutions. Clifton said Clinton would probably look for tightening regulations on nonbank institutions. Others say she would not go after the firms and would focus on other issues instead.

Trump, on the other hand, has been critical of Dodd-Frank legislation, but he's also complained about banks.

"I think he would benefit financials," said Clifton. "He'll be better on the banks. He understands you need credit. He could probably make some regulatory changes that are holding back credit right now from Dodd-Frank, and I think he'd be good for regional banks."

Wallace said Trump has never articulated an energy policy, so that's a wild card. But he did say he would put coal workers back to work in his victory speech Tuesday.

Clinton is seen as negative for fossil fuels but positive for solar.

Wallace said he believes the laws of supply and demand will be more important drivers for energy than the next president.

"Sideways drilling became doable, and since that time shale has changed political policy in the Middle East, and it changed energy policy in the U.S.," said Wallace.

Valliere said Clinton might be better for Wall Street.

"I think she'd be more inclined to listen to people on Wall Street. I think she'd be more open to a dialogue with Wall Street. From a regulatory standpoint, she'd be fairly aggressive," he said. But until the victor takes office, most of this talk is just talk.

"Despite copious positioning papers and pronouncements of policy by Clinton, the question is how much of that is fodder for the primary and how much will stick when she's sitting in the seat?" said Wallace.