Every now and then, I read about an interesting societal trend that has implications for us investors. For example, several years ago, I learned that increasing rates of obesity in America were prompting changes from many businesses. Some airplanes, for example, were switching to wider seats, squeezing profitability (if not passengers) by accomodating fewer paying fliers on each plane. Southwest Airlines
Perhaps less profit-pinching than widening airline seats is this example of a corporate reaction: Honda
Statistics show just how widespread these concerns have become. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, which is twice the rate of a generation ago. Estimates from the National Business Group on Health put the cost to corporate America at about $13 billion a year, when you consider additional health insurance expenses, sick leave, and other costs.
Profiting from big solutions
Yet some stocks are also profiting from obesity. Medical-device maker Stryker
Meanwhile, many employers are offering incentives to employees to get healthier. General Mills
If you see a trend under way, stop to think about how it might affect some companies as well. It's a good way to spot some stocks that could benefit from increased business.
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