Water – A Compelling Investment Story by Thomas Schumann Capital
Fresh water has no substitute – and only a fraction of today’s supply is safe for consumption. Given a fast-growing world population, the massive urbanization of developing nations and deteriorating infrastructure in developed countries, the need for water is set to grow exponentially. Due to the vast number of investments needed to solve this global supply/demand imbalance, water is increasingly being viewed as a core commodity that may be as profitable as oil.
A flood of opportunity
Water is currently a $600 billion market poised to grow to $1 trillion by 2020
Investments are needed along the entire water-value chain; global water-infrastructure projects alone are expected to see annual growth of 5% – 8%. Companies that focus on addressing the increasing demand for and limited supply of water could represent some of the world’s key growth opportunities today – and in the coming years.
Water as an Asset Class
“I expect to see a globally integrated market for fresh water within 25 to 30 years. Once the spot markets for water are integrated, futures markets and other derivative water-based financial instruments – puts, calls, swaps – both exchange-traded and OTC will follow. There will be different grades and types of fresh water, just the way we have light sweet and heavy sour crude oil today. Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.” — Willem Buiter, Global Chief Economist, Citigroup (2011)
Water – #1 Global Impact & Responsible Investment
Water – Investing in water-related companies
In a world that’s more than 70% covered by water, where many people enjoy a never-ending stream of clean water that’s a mere twist of the tap away, it can be hard to imagine any kind of water scarcity.
Yet for a growing part of the world’s population-from wealthy residents in dry regions of developed nations to the urban poor in emerging economies-limits on supply and increasing demand are creating an ever-greater global water challenge. Solving this problem demands a long-term effort from institutions around the world, which Thomas Schumann Capital believes will require significant investment from the private sector.
There is no substitute for fresh, clean water. Other commodities have their surrogates – wheat for oats, coal for natural gas – but water does not.
Yet this vital natural resource is not quite as abundant as some might think. Approximately 97% of the world’s water is non-potable seawater, and most of the freshwater is contained in the polar ice caps. The rest – found in rivers, lakes and aquifers-can be hard to access, is being increasingly placed at risk by climate change and can easily be made unusable by contamination. All told, less than 0.007% of all the water in the world is potable, or safe for consumption, according to the World Health Organization.
At the same time, demand for fresh water is steadily increasing. The world’s population is growing rapidly and climate change is causing shifts in rainfall levels and overall water availability – exacerbating what is already an enormous economic and social challenge: getting a secure supply of usable water to the billions of people and countless businesses that depend on it every day.
A Worsening Situation
So where does all the water go? While energy production, manufacturing and basic hygiene needs account for a large part of the demand, the vast majority – approximately 70% of all the world’s freshwater resources – is used for agriculture. The enormous amount of water needed to grow the crops and livestock that feed and clothe the world’s population has helped create a dire situation. According to the U.N., more than 1.6 billion people are currently living in places where sustainable water use has already reached its limits. These areas include both emerging economies and developed regions. The U.N. believes that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in these water-stressed areas.
Investment opportunities along the water chain
With a growing need for clean water, and with polluted water becoming a serious economic issue,Thomas Schumann Capital believes governments and corporations are likely to invest billions or even trillions of dollars to solve these problems in the coming decades, which is why investors may want to consider adding an actively managed water fund to their portfolios.
Three investment opportunities in water-related companies
We identified three main areas to which governments and private corporations will devote substantial resources to help solve the growing water challenge. Each one provides a range of attractive water-related investment opportunities.
S&P Global Water Index
As economies across the world expand, the demand for water and ancillary services continues to rise. The S&P Global1 Water Index measures the performance of global companies that are in two water-related businesses: water utilities & infrastructure, and water equipment & materials.
S-Network Global TR Index
Equity Ethical – Impact and financial outperformance
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