- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Today, I’ll be writing about biotechnology, what it encompasses, and a “not-so-biotech” biotech company that has long benefited its investors as well as society.
As a Bioengineering: Biotechnology graduate from UC San Diego, I’ve always found this field to be extremely exciting and fascinating. The lab work, not so much – but when it comes to investing, expect exhilarating volatility, megabucks and life-changing discoveries. The biotech industry is characterized by investment analysts as “boom or bust. “ Although it certainly isn’t for investors who are faint of heart, one can identify, through research, numerous publicly traded companies that are somewhat stable (If you have confidence in biotechnology but balk at the idea of performing your own research, take a look at IBB, an iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF.).
When most people think of biotech, they think of biopharmacueticals, probably because of the large piles of money the industry has racked up from “blockbuster drugs.” By definition, Biotechnology is technology based on biology, which as you can imagine includes a lot of unique cutting-edge fields like genetics, proteomics or tissue engineering.
Most people fail to think of the oldest form of biotech, “Green Biotechnology,” which is technology applied to agricultural processes. While everyone is looking for the next blockbuster drug making biotech start-up, you may find good profits looking into Green Biotech. Although you may be aware that population levels are falling in Japan and Europe, and that the rate of American population growth has slowed down significantly over the years, you may be surprised to learn that more than three-quarters of the world population lives in emerging markets, and these populations continue to increase the need to be fed. In fact, the world population may reach 8 billion by 2020. That’s a lot mouths to feed.
This is where Monsanto (NYSE: MON) and its notorious genetically modified organisms (GMOs) come into play. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding GMOs. Most people claim to never have eaten a GMO, but by some estimates, almost 70% of processed foods on U.S. grocery shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. Although methods have gotten more high-tech, GMOs have been around a lot longer than you may think. At least 10,000 years ago, farmers in what is now present day Turkey introduced a mutation to wheat plants in one gene that made the seed head less brittle and the husks easier to harvest. Twenty years ago, “golden rice” was created by inserting specific sequences for enzymes into rice plants so that they could synthesize Vitamin A and relieve a deadly vitamin deficiency that kills 668,000 children under the age of five every year.
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, has patented genetically modified seeds that have helped farmers produce much better quality crops using less pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Without these genetically modified seeds, crop yields would be significantly lower, having to deal with weather, insects, weeds and other factors. American farmers now grow five times as much corn as they did in the 1930′s on one fifth of the land; the yield per acre has grown tremendously thanks to advances in science. Not only does Monsanto provide the their patented seeds, but it also has a strangle hold on weed controlling products that are utilized on public spaces, gardens, golf courses and roadsides all over the world.
Although Monsanto’s public image can be debated, nobody can dispute its numbers. Monsanto is currently sitting on $3.6B in cash and has generated 12.6B in revenue year to date, and is on pace to increase its revenue by a billion every year since 2010. Better yet, this company has over $3B in cash from operating activities and only $723M in capital expenditures, Monsanto will be able to continue to keep an edge by pouring a quarter billion dollars per year into its research and development as well as buy out its competition.
With biotech companies being so complicated and tough to understand, it may be prudent to look at those affected by the upward biotech trend or more stable biotech companies like Monsanto. Despite the controversy, Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotech glutton, is here to stay. Although tech and oil giants have been known to dominate the market, don’t be surprised if you see biotech conglomerates leading the markets S&P within the next few decades.
Speak the Truth. Do your duty. Neglect not the Scriptures. Give your best to your teacher. Do not cut off the line of progeny. Swerve not from the Truth. Swerve not from the Good. Protect your spiritual progress always. Give your best in learning and teaching. Never fail in respect to the sages. See the divine in your mother, father, teacher, and guest. Never do what is wrong. Honor those who are worthy of honor. Give with Faith. Give with Love. Give with Joy. If you are in doubt about right conduct, follow the example of the sages, who know what is best for spiritual growth. This is the instruction of the Vedas; this is the secret; this is the message.
-Taittiriya Upanishad, 1.11
Zig Ziglar passed today. It’s a shame I never got to see him in person but his books have really helped me with all facets of my life.