How to Survive (and Profit From) Mayageddon

What are you doing reading this article? Haven't you heard? The world is ending in December! A plague of meteors and floods and Twilight sequels will befall us! The Dow will go to zero and destroy the economy ... if any is left after the meteors. Say your goodbyes and dig your fallout shelter for the end of the Mayan b'ak'tun, which heralds the end of all time. Humanity will be reduced to rubble, its few survivors trudging despairingly down an empty highway toward inevitable death in a bleak and lifeless world. Wait, never mind -- that's the plot of The Road.

Still here? Want to profit from the panic, or at least find some stable businesses that can outlast any freak-out? If you're not one of the opportunistic sorts already selling Mayan survival kits and Doomsday for Dummies e-books, read on.

The four G's
Conspiracy theorists love to think about the end of the world. How would people try to survive? If you want to sell what these folks'll be buying, you'll want to meet the four G's of apocalypse survival: guns, gold, (canned) goods, and graves. Protection, hard currency, and nonperishable food (don't forget the can openers) are all vital. And if society doesn't collapse, someone has to deal with the dead.

Guns
Gun lovers are already prepared for the end as they break records in their quest for more firepower. Some of Black Friday's biggest beneficiaries were arms dealers, who filed 32% more background checks than they had on any previous day in history. No one wants to be defenseless when Bolon Yokte comes to cull the unbelievers. I'm looking for big sales figures from gun manufacturers such as Sturm, Ruger (NYS: RGR) and Smith & Wesson, as well as Olin (NYS: OLN) , maker of Winchester. Nothing says "I'm safe from the apocalypse" like a well-stocked arsenal.

Olin has a better dividend, but its stock price has done little for the last decade. But Sturm, Ruger's stock price has been on a steady upward trajectory since shortly after Barack Obama's inauguration. And why not? Its annual sales jumped 50% during his first year in office after posting a largely flat eight years during the Bush administration.

Gold
So you're wandering a blighted wasteland in search of food, but the dollar has become worthless. Luckily, you saved up some gold before it all went to hell, and now you can finally trade for some dinner.

Thank the diligent miners at Brigus Gold (ASE: BRD) and Paramount Gold and Silver (ASE: PZG) , among many others, for that bounty. Sure, plenty of miners produce gold, but the broader market has overlooked the imminent end of humanity to the degree that both of these companies' promising exploration projects are being metaphorically given away with their low share prices. We can't get gold for free yet, but you don't have to wait for society's collapse to take advantage of this unguarded hoard of undervalued gold-mining stocks.

Goods (in a can)
Any end-of-the-world conspiracy theorist worth his or her salt must have a fully stocked bomb shelter, and that means plenty of Campbell's soup, Hormel Spam, and Dole pineapple and peaches. While they're in the backyard muttering about a planet near-miss, you could be laughing all the way to the bank.

Even if the world doesn't end, people aren't going to stop eating. That's what supports a 3.5% dividend yield for Campbell and a 2.1% yield for Hormel. And with food price inflation on the rise, demand for cheap products like Spam might well increase over time.

Graves
People are going to die. If they all die at the same time, it hardly matters where you put your money, but a gradual extinction leaves plenty of time to profit. That sounds simply awful, doesn't it? Well, this is Mayageddon, after all.

If the apocalypse comes like the plague through medieval Europe, cemeteries and undertakers will have their hands full. Grim but good news for investors in StoneMor Partners (NYS: STON) and Service Corp.

Even if Mayageddon never happens, demographics will still support those stocks. There will be twice as many people over age 65 in 20 years as there were 10 years ago. People will keep dying regardless of any pending devastation, and solid dividends -- impressively solid in StoneMor's case, with a 10% yield -- make this morbid industry a good income prospect.

Getting started
There's no time like the present to prepare yourself for the end of history. There's also no time like the present to prepare for the steady progress of humanity. Remember, the Mayans didn't predict their own demise, so why should we listen to them now? Many of these companies could be great additions to your portfolio, for the present and for long after the end of this nonsense.

If you're looking for another compelling stock to buy, take a look at The Motley Fool's new report on our top choice for 2012. Get invested in the heart of Mayan territory with a fast-growing Latin American retailer that's got the foundation to succeed for the rest of this b'ak'tun and beyond. Reserve your free copy today before the rest of the world pokes its heads out of its shelters and discovers this secret.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter for more news and insights. The Motley Fool owns shares of StoneMor Partners. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of StoneMor Partners. 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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