Part of investing is looking forward, we want to ensure our investments will continue to be profitable and pay dividends, we also want the company to stay in business and grow. If the company has a natural monopoly, it makes it easier, if not then we occasionally we need to look at how things fit in and if we believe the company is doing the correct thing. There is a book called How We Got to Now – 6 Innovations that made the Modern World by Steven Johnson, published by Penguin, NY, 2014. Mr. Johnson has written other books which you may want to check out.
If you look at our society and there are many wonders, how did or what needed to happen to arrive at where we are? In Mr. Johnson’s book the 6 important ingredients are glass, cold, sound, clean, time and light. You might add a category, but it is differently an interesting way to see how the world we know evolved to where it is. If you can see what Mr. Johnson sees, that will help you invest and notice if the companies you invest in do not seem to be getting in, how to connect the dots for the future.
If you like most people, today they went to the bathroom flushed the toilet and had a shower. When you had breakfast you likely had some water, whether that is boiled or from the tap and you did not find anything out of the ordinary doing the routine. Go back 100 plus years and world is different. For a long time in China, they believed in bathing everyday, Europeans were lucky to bathe once a month. In some cases, if a European went to a physician he would have said, the pores of the skin being a little dirty fight off infection. When we lived in smaller cities or in the rural areas, you might get away with it. As the population moved to cities, sanitation became a huge issue. In the movie, My Fair Lady the Professor Higgins first step in reforming Eliza is a bath. In London, UK people often died because of a belief diseases were air born; it was not until Dr. John Snow who used a cholera map to show the disease came from the water people were drinking. This lead to sewers, although there have been sewers placed before the pipes drawing clean water in until it was changed they were not very useful.
In Chicago, which is located on flat land, the buildings had to be raised to put the sewers in because all water and sewage systems use gravity to move the liquids. Having proper systems improves public health for all people.
Improving cleaning for cities, brought a market for cleaning in homes. Go to the grocery store and there are multiple cleaning companies, it started with Clorox. Cleaning is worth $80 billion to the economy.
The cleanest places on earth in business world are the manufacturers of computer chips.
Linking to dividend paying stocks, some of the best dividend stocks are related to cleaning. We have evolved to trying to be clean and have a clean environment around yourself which means demand remains constant and profits steady.
There are more questions than answers, till the next time – to raising questions.