One of the major surprises of 2016 has been how investor sentiment towards the resources sector has changed. While in recent years investors became increasingly disillusioned with the outlook for miners and oil and gas companies, in 2016 there has been a major shift. Evidence of this can be seen in Anglo American’s (LSE: AAL) share price, with the diversified mining company recording a rise of 110% since the turn of the year.

Of course, Anglo American’s share price rise isn’t solely due to an improved outlook for the wider mining sector. It’s also because the company is in the process of making multiple changes to its business model that should leave it in a far healthier position than it has been in recent years. For example, it’s reducing its range of operations and is in the process of selling off non-core assets.

Furthermore, Anglo American is seeking to become increasingly efficient and with its bottom line forecast to rise by 35% next year, now seems to be an excellent time to buy it for the long term.

Defensive star

Similarly, Diageo (LSE: DGE) offers excellent upside potential. That’s partly because it offers tremendous defensive prospects, with its top and bottom lines likely to keep growing by mid-to-high single-digits over the medium-to-long term. In an uncertain investment world where there are concerns about the macroeconomic outlook of the US, China and the EU, Diageo’s consistency could prove popular and cause its shares to be bid up over the coming months and years.

In addition, Diageo has real bid potential. That’s because it has a number of premium, market-leading brands in multiple alcoholic drinks segments such as Johnnie Walker in whisky, Smirnoff in vodka and Guinness in stout. For a rival firm, such products could be extremely valuable and while Diageo is hardly cheap with a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 19.3, its shares could realistically see their rating rise over the long run if defensive growth stocks become popular.

Time to buy?

Meanwhile, shares in Applegreen (LSE: APGN) have made a disappointing start to 2016, with them being down 11% year-to-date. Looking ahead, the petrol forecourt retailer is expected to grow its bottom line by 26% in the current year and by a further 21% next year. Both of these figures have the potential to cause a step-change in investor sentiment towards the company and therefore its shares could begin to reverse their decline since the turn of the year.

Furthermore, Applegreen trades on a P/E ratio of 20.6 which, when combined with its growth forecasts, equates to a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of around 0.9. This indicates that now could be a good time to buy it and with it having a geographically well-diversified business model, its risk/reward ratio seems to be relatively appealing.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of Anglo American. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.