Recession Buys: 'Wide Moat' Stocks

In the grip of a bear market, in the throes of recession, what's the best course of action for an investor? Morningstar's Bill Bergman says it's the best time to buy.

"Historically, it's proven to work, and it makes sense," the stock strategist told CNBC. "During recessions, we have a great deal of productivity improvement, and looking backward, it certainly proved to be a good strategy."


Even for a contrarian, Lowe's might seem to be an unusual top pick.

"It's squarely in the middle of the cross-hairs," he admitted. "We have a difficult economy -- I don't want to understate that -- but Lowe's is a great operator, committed to customer service, and someone who's going to benefit in the long run from the shakeout that's happening in housing right now."
Another "Buy" opinion:


Bergman says his firm favors so-called "wide-moat companies," companies with durable competitive advantages that endure during recessions and are positioned to flourish after they are over.

Companies like Fastenal.

"It's actually near an all-time high, but we still think it's a buy," he said. "It's a company that actually grows during recessions, an industrial supplies distributor that's sensitive to housing and to the conditions in manufacturing."

Also on his list is payroll, human resource and benefits provider Paychex.


Bill Bergman owns shares of Lowe's and Fastenal.