I'd lived in Florida for six years before my first real hurricane scare.
It was 2016. Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the chunk of North Florida I'd made home. And my wife and I decided to evacuate.
For the next two days, I watched The Weather Channel like a hawk. The news got better and better as time passed. And thankfully, the storm missed us entirely.
So a year later, when Hurricane Irma was on its way, we decided to hunker down. And boy was that a mistake...
The storm itself weakened by the time it hit us. But it knocked down hundreds of trees in the area. We lost power for about a week. And with a newborn baby in the house, it wasn't much fun.
My experience isn't unique. Disasters are a common concern throughout the U.S. And unfortunate as it is, threats like Hurricane Irma are creating an inevitable growth market for certain companies.
Let me explain...
Hurricane season kicked off at the beginning of June. And for me, that means it's the time of year to keep an eye on storms brewing in the east Atlantic... and to be prepared to drop everything and leave town if things get bad enough.
Disaster seasons are common around the U.S. You get tornado season from March to July in the plains, the Midwest, and along the Gulf Coast... wildfire season from June to October out on the West Coast... and the chance of an earthquake any time of the year.
Some experts say that wildfires affecting the East Coast – evidenced by the smoke we saw coming from Canada this month – are likely to happen more often, too.
Cleanup from these events has gotten darn expensive. Hurricane Irma cost $52 billion or more. Last year's Hurricane Ian cost $113 billion. And Hurricane Harvey from 2017 cost $125 billion.
These weren't necessarily the worst storms of the past few decades. But they were some of the costliest... And that's because cleanup has become more and more expensive.
It's not just cleanup, though. There's prevention, as well. And when you put them together, disasters are a clear growth industry. Heck, the White House projects that by the end of the century, disaster relief could cost the U.S. $2 trillion per year.
Investing in this idea might seem crass. But as an investor, noticing a big trend and finding a way to ride it is one of the surest bets you can make. And this is certainly a big trend – one that isn't going away.
My friend Andrew Chanin noticed this trend years ago. He's the CEO of exchange-traded fund ("ETF") company ProcureAM. And he's a bit of an ETF wiz.
He has launched several funds over the years... often the first of their kind. That includes the first cybersecurity fund, the first junior silver-mining fund, and the first mobile-payments fund.
A few years back, he noticed the trend in disaster spending. He got to work. And last year, he invited me to help him "ring the bell" for his newest fund, the Procure Disaster Recovery Strategy Fund (FIXT).
Here are Andrew and I at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square...
FIXT's goal is simple... to own a basket of stocks focused on disaster prevention, mitigation, and recovery after events. That includes industrial stocks, technology companies, and even retailers.
The past year hasn't been the easiest for investors. But Andrew's fund is doing darn well... It's up 13% since it launched, beating the S&P 500 Index's 7% return in that time frame.
There's no certainty when investing. But when you can find a big, inevitable trend – ideally, one where growth is assured – you're off to a good start. If no one else is paying attention to that trend, you've got another leg up.
The unfortunate truth is that the disaster industry fits that bill. It's a long-term growth industry. It's one the typical investor hasn't thought much about. And that makes it worth considering right now.
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