Are Good Businesses Always Good Investments?

Two Good Businesses Coming Back in TrendGood businesses have a tendency to remain that way, and when they experience a material price retrenchment on the equity market, it’s often worth a look.

Chart Industries, Inc. (GTLS) is a company we’ve looked at before in these pages. This enterprise operates as part of the energy infrastructure build-out that’s such a strong investment theme.

The company, out of Garfield Heights, Ohio, is a specialized metal fabricator that manufactures storage solutions for liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemical and natural gas processing, gases for medical use, and related storage equipment. Quite a bit of the company’s specialized containers are sold to PetroChina Company Limited (PTR).

Chart Industries reports its fourth-quarter financial results next week. In its third quarter, sales grew 19% to $301.8 million. Earnings increased to $24.4 million, or $0.74 per diluted share, up from $18.5 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, in the same quarter of 2012. The company’s backlog grew 12% to a record $743 million.


In the company’s third-quarter financial report, management slightly reduced their expectations for revenues and earnings going forward due to changes in customer schedules and higher-than-anticipated costs. But the company still has a solid outlook for 2014, and this is very much a growth story, as order activity for LNG equipment is strong.

The company’s stock chart is featured below:

Chart Industries Inc. Chart

Chart courtesy of

Another stock that’s following a similar trading pattern is A. O. Smith Corporation (AOS), which is a water heater business that sells its product all over the world. (See “The One Place New Money Can Go to in This Stock Market Right Now.”)

For a mature, old economy business, the stock has done extremely well over the last several years and will likely continue to do so as management consistently delivers on its operational promises. This company’s medium-term stock chart is featured below:

Smith AO Corp. NYSE Chart

Chart courtesy of

I like stocks that already have a demonstrated track record of success. A company has to consistently deliver the goods operationally and generate sufficient interest from investors that they stay with the story.

Both Chart Industries and A. O. Smith are good businesses with excellent investment potential long-term. The key with these kinds of stocks is accumulating them at fair prices.

Chart Industries still looks pretty pricey currently, while A. O. Smith isn’t as bad.

What both these enterprises are doing is selling product to China and other countries with large developing markets. The above-average growth from selling to emerging markets complements their existing businesses that are well entrenched.

Operational success over a long period of time matters, and while investor enthusiasm certainly is never consistent, a portfolio should be well-served by including a few old economy stock picks, the kind of businesses that are making real goods that are consistently in demand with barriers to entry from competition.

Any company that’s in business long enough is going to experience different phases in its development. In the stock market, the last few years have shown that investors have been very willing to consider old economy businesses.

It’s an investment trend that has a few more years to play out.