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Crises come in many forms, whether they be due to the financial system, food, water, or war. That's why there are many different kinds of defensive investments and industries.

Here's a guide to the potential investments themes which could perform well across a variety of crises, combined with actionable ideas to investigate, and some of the famous bulls who are back them.


Farming

Why:

1) Population growth. Developing nations will drive global population growth.

2) Richer diets. Rising incomes in developing nations lead to much richer diets.

3) China. China actually has a huge food problem, having one of the smallest amounts of arable land relative to population in the world.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Powershares DB Agriculture Fund (NYSEARCA:DBA), Lindsay Corporation (NYSE:LNN), Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (NYSE:POT)

- Exchange Traded Funds like the Powershares DB Agriculture Fund. Based on the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index, it tracks commodities that include the price soaring wheat, soybeans, corn and live cattle.

- Farmland Irrigation companies like Lindsay Corporation. It produces modern irrigation system that are run by computers. Its latest quarterly results showed an increase in total revenues by 18% compared to a year earlier, the total amounting to $100.1 million. A considerable part of its good earnings come from its growing markets in Africa, Europe, as well as its Mexican and Latin American divisions.

- Fertilizer producers like the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. The company presented, in their second fiscal quarter, earnings per share that doubled compared to the previous year and a gross margin that was the triple from a year before. BHP Biliton just offered $38 billion to buy the fertilizer company, but was turned down.

- Food processing companies like Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM). It processes basic ingredients like corn, wheat or cocoa into food, sweeteners or animal feeds. In its fourth quarter earnings, the company showed net earnings of $446 million, up from $58 million a year before. Its yearly net earnings (ending June 2010) was up 25% from a year earlier.

According to investor Jim Rogers, agriculture shortages are looming, raising food prices. Agriculture was subsidized which kept the prices down, according to him. But now, with soaring wheat prices leading the way, due partly to the Russian inferno, things are changing.

"Be prepared, if you have a sugar bowl home go fill it up because it's going to be more expensive," he said to CNBC this month.

To CNN Money, Rogers said he liked agriculture commodities. "Frequently, one will make a lot of money if you buy the things that are depressed [and] where things might be getting better," he said on CNN.

Water

Why:

1) Emerging scarcity. Clean water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world.

2) Industry is devouring water. Industrial growth in developing nations is draining water resources.

3) Conflict. There is potential for conflict in Asia over water resources due to multiple nations sharing the same large rivers.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Energy Recovery (NASDAQ:ERII), Bluewater Bio, Calvert Global Water Fund (CFWAX)

Water desalination firms like Energy Recovery Inc. A pure play in the industry, the company focuses on making the desalination process more affordable by increasing the energy efficiency with new technology. In its second quarter, it showed a 46% increase in net revenue compared to a year earlier and a loss per share of $0.01. It has 64% share of the Seawater Reverse Osmosis market. The growth of desalination companies could go up to 15% annually for the next five years at least, according to Jens Peers, portfolio manager for KBC Asset Management.

Sewage treatment companies, like Bluewater Bio. It uses a water treatment process that involves bacteria, thus reducing the need of power compared to other companies. It just struck a $6.3 million deal with two investors, after a win in contracts both in South Africa and Bahrein.

Specialized mutual funds like the Calvert Global Water Fund. Through the Calvert fund, it is possible to invest in about 47 companies that are working in the water industry around the world, including India and Brazil, but also American firms like California Water Service.

While it is certainly not his biggest holding, billionaire Warren Buffett invested in Nalco (NYSE:NLC), a small-cap water treatment company last year. In the latest SEC filing, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) has increased its stock in the company. With about 9 million shares, Berkshire is the largest institutional stockholder of the company.

Some saw this as a signal that investment in water-related companies is about to strive. Nalco's business is to help its customers - businesses from a large array of sectors - to reduce their water usage with new technologies and water-treatment programs. Recently, Nalco produced a dispersant used in the BP oil spill.

Uranium

Why:

1) A contrarian play. Prices have gone considerably down since the $136 peak of 2007, now stagnating at around $46 per pound.

2) Demand is likely to grow. There are more nuclear plants being developed in China, the U.S. has become interested again after a long moratorium

3) Nuclear power = independence during crisis. Nuclear power can provide energy independence, thus security, to nations who aren't blessed with natural resources. Thus it will be valued even during hard times.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Cameco (NYSE:CCJ)

- Pure play Uranium producers, like Cameco, that makes up for 16% of the uranium world production. In its latest quarterly results, Cameco has reported that the sales volume went down, especially due to a stronger Canadian dollar and orders that were delayed. Its half-year adjusted net earnings decreased by 15% compared to the year before.

Geologist Mickey Fulp is one of the uranium bulls. In an interview in April 2010 with the Energy Report, he describes the uranium market as "absolutely undervalued right now".

Fulp even gives his geographical preferences: Wyoming and New Mexico in the U.S., because, according to him, that's where "the majority of uranium has been produced in the past and where current resources are likely to be developed."

And here are the companies that he would bet on: Strathmore Minerals Corp. in Wyoming (OTC:STHJF) and Hathor Exploration Ltd. (OTC:HTHXF) in Canada.

Gold

Why:

1) Entrenched in the human psyche as a source of value. While Gold prices have already soared, hitting 1,265 per ounce in June, it might seem bizarre to think that such a recently hyped asset could remain a potential refuge, but gold has always been the classic defensive investment, for thousands of years, and could prove itself so even despite the recent price run.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX)

A leader in the gold mining industry, Barrick Gold Corp. has interests in about 25 gold mines around the world. Its last quarterly results' adjusted net earning showed a whooping increase by 76% compared to the previous year, going up to $759 million.

ETFs, like Gold Miners ETF, that tries to reproduce the price performance of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index. Its Gross Expense Ratio lies by 0.54%.

George Soros' recent disclosure to the SEC showed that the 80-year-old investor is still betting on gold, although trimming his investments slightly. His Soros Management Fund's biggest holding was still SPDR Gold Trust, (NYSEARCA:GLD) in which it owns 5.24 million shares, representing 13% of the fund's equities, up 6 percentage points compared to the first quarter. Taken all together, that is worth $638 million.In the fourth quarter of 2009, he had already increased his investment in the Gold ETF by 152%.

Interestingly, Soros warned in February 2010 about too much exuberance, calling gold "the ultimate asset bubble." But for him, buying at the beginning of a bubble is absolutely "rational".

Rare Earth Metals

Why:

1) Rare. These metals, with bizarre names, such as erbium, terbium or lithium, are, by definition, rare.

2) A supply problem. China has a near-monopoly on production right now, which could be good news for up and coming producers elsewhere.

3) Modern necessities. They are used in many key high-tech technologies, including military equipment and batteries, thus they are actually necessities in the modern world.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Avalon Rare Metals (AVARF.PK), Lithium One (OTC:LITHF), FMC Lithium (NYSE:FMC), Global X Lithium (NYSEARCA:LIT)

- Mineral exploration companies, like Avalon Rare Metals in Canada. The company profits from its Nechalacho Rare Earth Element Deposit in the Northwest of the Canada, which holds about 60 million tonnes of rare metal oxides, but it is also developing other rare metal plants.

- Specific Lithium development companies, like Lithium One. Also based in Canada, its goal is to acquire and develop lithium deposits around the world, with properties in Canada and in Argentina.

- Chemical manufacturers, like FMC Lithium, based in the U.S., that produces lithium.ion batteries, amongst other things.

- Specialized ETFs, like Global X Lithium that just launched last month. The ETF states that the demand for lithium has doubled and prices tripled in the last decade.

Analyst James Dines, the author of the Dines newsletter, giving insight to investors, has been bullish on rare earth metal for a long time. On his website, he goes even so far as to call the rare earth metal market the "first new Super Major bull market" he has revealed in nine years.

According to him, this is an excellent chance to ride the wave of "microminiaturization" that the world is facing now.

Some stocks that he has been monitoring since 2001 have soared 813%, as Commodity Online reports.

Defense Companies

Why:

1) Terrorism. Terrorism has increased security needs around the world, and this is unlikely to change.

2) Weapons rule the world. Ultimately in the case of a global crisis, military hardware will be important for any nation to project its influence or protect its assets.

3) The arms race continues. Saddening as it is, the global arms race continues. China is rapidly arming itself, India has recently announced it will invest more in defense technology, and the U.S. aims to remain cutting edge for the foreseeable future.

Where to hunt for ideas:

L-3 Communications (LLL), Cogent Systems Inc.(COGT), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD); BAE systems (OTCPK:BAESY)

Defense technology manufacturers, like L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL). The company provides intelligence and surveillance systems, as well as aircraft modernization, mostly for government services. Some of the products it delivers is body scanners, that are increasingly looked at for airport security and unmanned drones, more and more frequently used in Afghanistan.

Identification system producers, like Cogent Systems Inc. (COGT). It provides modern finger-and-palm print technology to law enforcement agencies.

Defense vehicles suppliers, like General Dynamics (GD). The company has four business branches: Aerospace, Combat Systems, Marine Systems and Information Systems and delivers mostly to the U.S. army. Its last second quarter earnings were good, with a profit up 5%, prompted especially by its communications and information technology branch. BAE systems is another big global defense company and recently secured a $782.25 million with India.

CNBC's Jim Cramer, on his show in January 2010, showed himself bullish on defense stocks. He especially picked some stocks from the Aerospace and Defense Index, such as American Science & Engineering (NASDAQ:ASEI) and OSI Systems (NASDAQ:OSIS).

On the Street.com, Cramer wrote : "Of all the areas where the analysts remain way too negative, the defense sector of the economy has to take the cake. The analysts simply refuse to believe that we won't wake up one day and say, 'That's it, no more war.'"

Alcohol and Tobacco "The Sin Stocks"

Why:

1) Addiction. People are addicted to cigarette.

2) Basic pleasures. Alcohol is a cheap form of entertainment whose demand is defensive. Smoking remains prevalent in developing countries, where most of the world's population is.

3) High entry barriers. The market entry barriers are high, because of health regulations and other factors.

Where to hunt for ideas:

Diageo (NYSE:DGX), Philip Morris (NYSE:PM)

Drink businesses, like Diageo (DGX). The company owns some well-known brands like Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness. Its full-year figures are to come out in a week and are expected to be good. According to the Daily Mail, Diageo has handed out a return in excess of $34.4 billion to its shareholders between 1997 and 2010, although the six-month period ending December was challenging, with an organic operating profit down 3%.

Tobacco companies, like Philip Morris, (PM) one of the largest U.S. companies in the industry. Its latest second-quarter profit soared because of an increasing sales volume. Philip Morris' profit went up to $1.98 billion ($1.07 a share) from $1.55 billion (79 cents a share) a year earlier.

Anheuser-Bush InBev (NYSE:BUD) showed a growth in profit by 7.2%, but Whitney Tilson from hedge fund T2 partners was bullish on the market even before that.

In a presentation, T2 Partners called the brewer company, one of the "Three Big-Cap Blue Chips", next to Microsoft and BP. Beer, the hedge fund showed, is an "affordable luxury" and is also a "stable, profitable and timeless industry." This, the hedge fund says, "is not a business that will disappear."

Disclosure: No Disclosures

Source: 7 Investment Ideas for the Worst Case Scenario