Water can crash in the form of a wave and it can be as soft as falling rain. But make no mistake: it is one of the more valuable resources available on the planet. Investors interested to invest in companies that provide water services ranging from flow control equipment to water treatment should consider the PowerShares Water Resources ETF (NYSE:PHO). Let's take a look at a few of the fund's top performers from the beginning of the year through April 17. (Before investing in ETFs, be sure to check out Five ETFs Flaws You Shouldn't Overlook.)
Not Just Water
Flowserve (NYSE:FLS) is a water infrastructure play that also serves oil and gas, power generation and chemical processing providers. As a multifaceted supplier of pumps, valves, seals and automation, Flowserve reported record earnings per share (EPS) of $7.74 for 2008. Flowserve believes a combination of population growth and urbanization will be key growth drivers pushing the demand for water services and energy production, which should translate into future earnings growth. Financial ratios do not tell the entire story for any company, but Flowserve offers a low price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 0.88 based on projected EPS long-term growth of 10%, which suggests expected earnings growth over the next five years. Other infrastructure players listed in the PHO fund with low PEG ratios include ITT (NYSE:ITT), with a PEG of 0.96, on projected 11.8% EPS growth, and IDEX (NYSE:IEX), with a PEG of 1.06 based on 13.6% growth. (For more on the PEG ratio as an analysis tool, read Move Over P/E, Make Way For The PEG.)
Integrated Water Treatment
During the fourth quarter of 2008, Nalco (NYSE:NLC), a global integrated water treatment and process improvement company, absorbed a $544.2 million impairment charge related to losses in its interest in a paper services business. Strong sales in Nalco's energy services segment along with improving sales in North America and Latin America helped the company improve revenues to $4.2 billion for the year. Although Nalco experienced an increase in revenues at the end of 2008 over the prior year, it reported negative EPS of $2.44. Nalco also has a low PEG ratio of 0.77 based on a 17.5% projected EPS growth rate.
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Calgon Carbon (NYSE:CCC), which specializes in water purification through the use of activated carbon and innovative treatments, managed to improve its diluted earnings per share to 72 cents at the end of 2008, over 31 cents the previous year. Calgon Carbon reported increased demand in food, environmental air treatment and potable water markets as key drivers for its growth in 2008. Calgon Carbon also has a relatively low PEG ratio of 1.14 (based on 24.8% EPS growth rate).
Renewable energy is the tagline for green jobs and investments in ethanol, solar, wind and geothermal power, but water is an equally important resource for investors to consider.