Comedian Melissa McCarthy did her best Matt Damon impersonation at The Golden Globes awards ceremony earlier this week, and it might be a good idea for investors to follow suit. By that I mean the work Damon, one of Hollywood's brightest stars, is doing as a co-founder of water.org is extraordinary at a time when over 2.5 times more people lack water than actually live in the whole U.S. So the real problem is lack of availability of clean water, and from an investment perspective, finding solutions to massive problems is the way to change the world and make money in the process. So could water be on investors' minds in 2014? I think so.
Water, which is regarded as "Blue Gold" by some investors, is a $400 billion-plus business a year globally. Considering freshwater is truly vital to human life, it is pretty amazing that seawater, which comprises 97% of the planet's water resources according to Veolia Water, a division of Veolia Environment (NASDAQOTH:VEOEY), is only used for 1% of the drinking water that is produced. This has me thinking desalination opportunities may be a great way for investors to add water treatment companies to their portfolios. I'm particularly interested in the potential for Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) to advance the use of high-performance materials such as graphene to radically improve the desalination of ocean water to meet growing demand for potable water.
LM's perforene membrane uses one atom thick graphene to remove sodium, chlorine, and other ions from sea water. Although the product is not yet commercial, Lockheed is seeking commercial partners. With that said, I'm enthusiastic the company could could make its perforene membrane available for wider applications to purify water, perhaps even in the fracking process by capturing ormaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, methanol, ammonium persulfate, sodium chloride, borate salts, isopropanol, ethylene and many other chemicals.
Granted, fracking fluid is roughly 99.51% water and sand, but the .49% additives are the ones environmentalists are shouting from the rooftops to control since those against fracking believe pose a threat to both water and air quality once flowback water comes back up the well and seeps into water supplies near active wells. I'm not 100% convinced that fracking is the right way to go for energy independence because of all the continued environmental concerns, but I would be very interested in seeing if Lockheed's molecular filtration solution can make a big difference. If they could, this may be a wicked smart play for investors.