Because it is considered politically correct to "go green" virtually every public company has adopted at least a few eco-friendly practices. But there are some companies out there that have done less than others.
With that in mind, sometimes companies that aren't even close to earning their "green thumb" can still have the potential to be terrific longer-term investments. Investing is supposed to be about growing wealth - and if we as investors limit ourselves to only buying "green stocks", we may miss out on some good long-term gems.
Although it has taken measures to limit waste, at the end of the day the company formerly known as Philip Morris makes cigarettes, which as we all know the surgeon general warns can be bad for your health. Never mind the fact that all of those butts and ashes make their way into our landfills and waterways.
However, despite its apparent lack of greenness, and numerous other challenges it's faced over the years (e.g. high cigarette taxes and litigation) the company has done well for itself. In fact, Altria continues to show positive growth, and analyst covering the stock on average expect it to grow earnings at a 7.3% pace per annum in each of the next five years.
Because of its litigation concerns, Altria is not for the risk averse. However, given that smoking remains popular worldwide, and the world's population is growing, I think that the future for the company is bright.
Harley Davidson (NYSE:HOG)
Let's face it, a Harley is loud and it gulps down gas. It's supposed to be - it's a Hog! But is Harley Davidson a bad company because its bikes its bikes live up to their nickname? No way! Harley Davidson has been on the leading edge for years and the company makes some very attractive bikes. Its ingenuity has allowed Harley to beat back slick, foreign competitors such as Kawasaki and Suzuki.
That said, high gas prices could take a near-term toll on the company. In addition, the big price tags on these bikes could be an obstacle if the economy slows. But long term, I think the stock is a winner due to its popularity here in the U.S. and its growing overseas popularity. It has a real opportunity to expand its footprint in Europe. For the record, Wall Street expects the company to earn $3.78 a share this year and $3.97 a share next. The company is also expected to grow at about 11% per annum for the next five years. That's solid growth - maybe enough to waive your environmental considerations? (To learn more, see Is Growth Always A Good Thing?)
When looking at Goodyear from an environmental perspective, I'd have to say it's far from being a "green stock". While many tires get recycled to make playground material, basketball courts and things of that nature, a lot of them still end up in landfills or in other places they shouldn't. To be fair, there is an argument that Goodyear's products are actually helping the environment. Some of its products are made so well, they allow for better fuel efficiency. However, I don't really buy it - Goodyear isn't green in my book.
But I don't care. Demand for automobiles will likely increase as the world's population increases. Plus, when it comes to tires, Goodyear has an advantage over many other brands: Its products can be found worldwide, it aggressively market's its wares, and countless retailers help in their distribution. (For more on competitive advantage, see Advertising, Crocodiles And Moats.)
Wall Street expects Goodyear to earn $1.41 a share this year and $2.99 a share next. That's excellent growth! In short, I think that Goodyear is a solid long term play regardless of its efforts to go green or to adopt eco-friendly principles.
The Bottom Line
There are a number of companies out there that haven't made an effort to go green. Even if they are about as non-green as you can get, they remain good, moneymaking long-term investments.
For related reading, check out Socially (Ir)responsible Investing.
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