Paul Tracy

While no developed nation came out of the Great Recession unscathed, some did emerge in a far better position than other major developed countries.

One of those is our neighbor to the north... Canada.

In fact, I think Canada is one of the single best places investors can invest in order to diversify their portfolio and earn compelling returns.

(It's easy to buy Canadian stocks -- most of them trade as either American Depository Receipts (ADRs) or over-the-counter in the United States.)

A number of factors have contributed to Canada's economic resilience. First, natural resources -- including the production of energy commodities, metals mining and forestry, which account for nearly 12% of the country's GDP.

While the collapse in prices for crude oil and most industrial metals during the heart of the financial crisis hurt this segment of the economy, commodity prices rebounded quickly in 2010 and 2011.

And, unlike the United States, Canada's housing market didn't collapse in 2008. In fact, modest income growth has continued to power activity in this sector in recent months.

Canadian banks have generally been less aggressive lenders than their U.S. counterparts, and Canadian regulators required banks to hold more capital to support their loans at the dawn of the crisis in 2007.

That means that as global credit conditions deteriorated, Canadian banks were less vulnerable to mounting bad loans and problem debts.

And Canadian companies also have a history of paying larger dividends than their peers in the United States. The Toronto Stock Exchange Index offers an average yield of 3.1%, a full percentage point higher than the 2.1% average for the U.S. S&P 500.

That makes the nation's equity markets a fertile hunting ground for income-oriented investors.

There is one company, currently yielding 5%, that has been a major beneficiary of Canada's strong housing and natural resources economies...

Bird Construction (Toronto: BDT; OTC: BIRDF) is a general contractor in Canada, focused on non-residential construction, including industrial, institutional, commercial and retail projects.

Bird has historically been a market leader in construction projects related to Canada's energy industry and, in particular, construction activity surrounding Alberta's oil sands.


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