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Issues

Back to the Future

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 1, 2013

This inaugural issue continues my almost three decades of covering essential-services stocks, with a few changes I think you’ll find useful.

My approach, as always, is to focus on companies which pay safe, growing dividends that will build our wealth over time. Names that provide essential services--electricity, heating, communications, water and pipeline capacity--enjoy stable demand and generate reliable cash flow, regardless of economic conditions or Wall Street’s latest investment fad.

More than 100 years after these industries came into being, they’re more critical than ever to a functioning society. Usage can rise and fall from quarter to quarter, or even year to year. But as the global economy grows, so do these businesses--and the benefits accrue to shareholders in the form of rising dividends and capital appreciation.

No merger between regulated utilities has ever failed to produce a stronger, more viable entity. Nor has any regulated utility ever vanished, save through consolidation. Even the owner of Three Mile Island--the former Metropolitan Edison--was able to come back from the 1978 accident. And investors who bought at the bottom realized a 35-to-1 return on their money over the subsequent decade.

No other industry can make these claims. That’s not to suggest that regulated utilities haven’t suffered severe setbacks at times; however, given the nature of the assets that these companies own, stocks and bonds issued by essential-service providers usually recover from whatever disaster befalls them.

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ABOUT ROGER CONRAD

Roger S. Conrad needs no introduction to individual and professional investors, many of whom have profited from his decades of experience uncovering the best dividend-paying stocks for accumulating sustainable wealth. Roger b