Thanksgiving, as it's taught to most schoolchildren, celebrates the harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims all the way back in 1621 at the Plymouth Plantation. Following a year where roughly half of the Pilgrims to arrive in America passed away, the surviving Pilgrims invited the lone remaining member of the Patuxet Indians to share in their feast following a successful harvest.
Today, Thanksgiving is often associated with tryptophan-induced turkey comas, football from morning until night, and of course, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
However, it's also a day of reflection and being thankful for the things we have and the people around us. This includes being thankful for the opportunity to invest in some truly great companies. Here are three stocks you can be thankful to own as an investor.
The utility sector is perhaps best known for its dividends, given that it sells a basic-need good (electricity or natural gas) to the public. Without access to electricity or gas, it would be veritably impossible for Americans to live comfortably in their homes. Most notably, electricity and gas consumption habits tend not to change much, even when U.S. economic growth ebbs and flows. This predictability is the cornerstone of healthy dividend payouts from utility stocks.
However, NextEra Energy (NEE -0.35%) isn't your typical utility company. It's the leading utility when it comes to renewable-energy projects and electricity generation. Between 2019 and 2022, the company intends to bring between 5,000 megawatts (MW) and 7,800 MW of wind-generating capacity and 3,800 MW to 7,300 MW of solar capacity online.
Furthermore, subsidiary Florida Power & Light is using the 30-by-30 project to install 30 million solar panels by 2030. This should generate an additional 10,000 MW for the company. No utility in the U.S. generates more power from wind or solar than NextEra.
Although investments in renewable energy are pricey, the long-term impact is incredible. Having the largest portfolio of renewable energy sources reduces NextEra's generating costs and leads to a considerably faster growth rate than its peers. It also means consumers in areas where NextEra provides service, such as in Florida, receive lower electric bills.
NextEra Energy's renewable-energy portfolio offers clear-cut advantages, and everyone from investors to its customers are benefiting.
Another stock you can be thankful you own is robotic-assisted surgical system developer Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 1.70%).
Now, I know what you're probably thinking: "The healthcare system is the last thing I/we should be thankful for." And to some extent, you're correct. The healthcare industry has been marred by drug-pricing issues and the perception that insurance companies are unsympathetic to their members' needs. But then there's Intuitive Surgical, which is opening doors for surgeons, patients, and investors alike.
What makes Intuitive Surgical such an incredible business is the company's broad-based competitive advantages. The company ended September with 5,406 da Vinci surgical systems installed worldwide. You could add up all of Intuitive Surgical's competitors and wouldn't get anywhere close to this number.
Additionally, it's not the sale of the da Vinci machines padding the company's operating results. Rather, it's the instruments sold with each procedure and regular servicing of the da Vinci system where the juiciest margins lie. Thus, as the company's installed base grows, the quality of its margins should improve.
Aside from the fact that Intuitive Surgical's precise da Vinci surgical system is shortening patients' recovery times, the company also donated $25 million during the fourth quarter of 2018 to start the Intuitive Foundation. This Foundation is designed to support clinical research, philanthropy, and ongoing education to improve patient outcomes around the world. In other words, you can proudly own Intuitive Surgical stock.
Investors should also be thankful for the opportunity to own stock in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.81%) (BRK.B).
Berkshire Hathaway, as a business, has been very kind to shareholders. Aside from growing Buffett's net worth to more than $86 billion, Berkshire Hathaway's stock has created more than $400 billion in value for shareholders throughout the years. Not too many publicly traded companies can boast of more impressive long-term wealth creation for their investors, especially given that the company doesn't pay a dividend.
Berkshire Hathaway continues to dazzle in two ways. First, Buffett and his team have acquired approximately five dozen businesses from a variety of sectors and industries throughout the years, which contribute to Berkshire's top and bottom line. Secondly, the Oracle of Omaha and his team are passive investors, with a current portfolio of 48 securities that's worth more than $233 billion. In sum, Berkshire makes its investors money by betting on the success of high-quality businesses.
What's more, few investors have given back quite in the way that Buffett has. In July, Buffett donated $3.6 billion in company stock to five charities -- his largest single donation to date. He did, however, pledge $37 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation back in 2006 ($37 billion is the valuation of the pledge 13 years ago) that'll take effect after he passes away.
By owning Berkshire Hathaway stock, you're getting a piece of a well-diversified company run by a true philanthropist.