How U.S. stock sectors could fare in an Obama administration

NEW YORK Wed Nov 5, 2008 12:04am EST

NEW YORK Nov 4 (Reuters) - Barack Obama swept to the White House on Tuesday, leading a Democratic electoral land slide that expanded the party's majorities in both chambers of Congress.

That puts the focus on how key market sectors, including alternative energy, healthcare, defense and finance will fare under his policies.

Below is a snapshot of analysts' views on what could influence sectors and individual stocks:

SOLAR/WIND POWER

Many in the energy sector see an increase in government support coming as a way to help jump start the economy and stimulate job growth.

Shares of solar energy companies, beaten down by credit worries and the drop in crude oil prices, have surged in anticipation of a policy focus. Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd STP.N, JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO.O) , First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) and SunPower Corp SPWRA.O are all up by more than 50 percent in the past week.

Shares of Denmark's Vestas (VWS.CO) , the world's No. 1 wind turbine maker, are up by nearly two-thirds in that time.

Experts also see natural gas for electricity generation and industry as key to the energy plans regardless of who becomes president. For details, see [ID:nN04541908][ID:nN29484206]

HYBRID CARS/SMART GRID

Analysts at Louis Capital Research noted a U.S. drive for more hybrid cars would benefit Energy Conversion Devices Inc (ENER.O) , which patented the nickel metal hydride storage technology used in hybrid electric vehicles.

Democrat Barack Obama's green energy push may also have a big impact on the long-neglected problem of getting power from the source to users.

Potential beneficiaries include Swiss company Landis+Gyr, which received $1.1 billion in new financing in June and had been looking at floating shares. Redwood City, California-based Silver Spring Networks, which just got $75 million in venture capital funding, and Pittsburgh-based BPL Global, are also seen beneficiaries.

DEFENSE

U.S. defense contractors thrive as well during Democratic administrations, if not better, than in Republican ones, and the likely election of Obama as president offers no hint of being an exception.

Likely beneficiaries include companies with long-term contracts building fighters, bombers, warships and missiles -- the bread and butter for Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) , Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and other big contractors.

Likely losers in the event of an Obama win are companies with lucrative contracts supplying U.S. forces in Iraq, such as bullet-maker Alliant Techsystems Inc (ATK.N) , armor plate maker Ceradyne Inc CRDN.O , or large contractors making fighting vehicles such as General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) .

Boeing (BA.N) looks like a winner, given Democrats' staunch support for the company in its effort to win a controversial $35 billion refueling tanker contract, which will be put up for grabs again next year. For details, see [ID:nN04381805][ID:nN03353407]

PHARMACEUTICALS/HEALTHCARE

It may be tempting for investors in pharmaceutical and biotech stocks to rush for the exits if a Democratic administration takes over the White House, but drugmakers are about to prove once again why they are a safe haven.

Major decisions on how to cope with the credit crisis are likely to dominate U.S. government thinking in the new year, bumping down healthcare reform on the priority list for the new president and members of Congress.

That spells relative stability for drug stocks, which is attractive to investors seeking safety after a terrible October for the stock market, one of the worst months on record.

Additionally, there are stocks likely to benefit regardless of who wins, including stem cell companies.

Both Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain have voted to overturn current limits on federal funding for stem cell research. That has pushed up the shares of Geron Corp (GERN.O) 33 percent over the past week. Shares of Aastrom Biosciences Inc (ASTM.O) and StemCells Inc (STEM.O) have doubled over the same period. For details, see [ID:nN03338994]

TELECOMS

A Democratic sweep in Tuesday's U.S. elections may clear the way for changes to Internet policy sought by Google Inc (GOOG.O) that would bar Internet providers from discriminating against some Web content.

The "net neutrality" issue pits Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and AT&T (T.N) against content companies like Google and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O). For details, see [ID:nN31379502]

FINANCE

If voters put Obama in the White House and bolster that party's ranks in Congress, the pendulum could shift decisively toward helping bank customers more, particularly as they try to deal with an economic downturn that could be the worst since at least the early 1980s.

Banks may face pressure to renegotiate mortgages to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, and to curb or lower fees on credit cards. That could drive down margins at a time many lenders are scrambling for deposits by offering high yields.

Some banks are not waiting for Washington to act before taking steps they say will help struggling borrowers.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) , for example, last week announced plans to modify up to $70 billion of mortgages, including from the former units of Washington Mutual Inc WAMUQ.PK that it acquired in September.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) , which bought mortgage lending giant Countrywide Financial Corp in July, adopted a similar program under pressure from regulators last month. For details, see [nN03361917] (Reporting by Reuters correspondents around the world, compiled by Ellis Mnyandu)

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