The Companies You See When Driving Half Way Across Americas

Accelerating Dividends, Automobiles, Defensive Investing

Over the course of three days last week, I drove 2,100 miles from my home in northern Nevada to pick up a new travel trailer in southern Michigan. Although this trip was rushed (2,100 miles in three days is a lot of driving!), I always enjoy a long road trip. I thought it would be fun to share some impressions from the road and dig up a few related stocks. These stocks are not current recommendations, but they represent some of the companies that make America go.

More than 2,000 miles of my 2,100-mile trip were spent on Interstate 80. I drove the interstate from just outside Reno to northern Indiana. (Maybe I should title this article the I-80 Chronicles!)

My biggest impression is that there are many, many heavy trucks (18-wheelers) on the road. Going across Wyoming, my guess is there were 50 to 100 large trucks for every passenger vehicle. There were always dozens of trucks in sight. Truck traffic stayed very heavy; in fact, across the country, trucks make up the majority of vehicles on Interstate 80. America’s truckers are doing their part to help ease the nationwide product shortages. Related stocks:

  • PACCAR, Inc. (PCAR) is a $29 billion market value manufactures of Peterbilt and Kenworth brand heavy trucks.
  • Cummins, Inc. (CMI) Is a $33 billion market cap manufacturer of diesel engines that power many trucks and RVs on the road.
  • Trucks need fuel, and truckers need food and coffee. TravelCenters of America (TA), with a $770 million market cap, is the largest publicly traded owner of truck stops and travel centers. TA owns and operates 272 locations and employs more than 20,000 people.

On the road, I like to observe how the landscape changes significantly from state to state. Wyoming was wide open, cold, and windy as I crossed the Continental Divide. Then it was on to Nebraska, which was relatively flat; I could still feel the prairie life of the 1800s. Crossing the Missouri River into Iowa brought rolling hills into sight, with every hill the home of large wind turbines. These masses of turbines, owned by MidAmerica Energy Company, are an amazing sight that continues across the entire state. In Iowa, MidAmerica operates 3,300 wind turbines in 31 counties. The turbine fleet accounts for 5.9% of all wind capacity in the U.S. MidAmerica Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B).

I also saw numerous 150 ft long turbine blades being trucked westward. I wondered where they were headed.

On the road, I greatly appreciate my SiriusXM (SIRI) subscription. During the drive, I listened to business channels like CNBC and Fox Business during the day, and then my favorite country stations after the stock market closed. However, I did not get acceptable T-Mobile US (TMUS) service from my phone through much of Wyoming and Nebraska. It can be frustrating to see cell towers along your route and not have service on your phone. I also carry a mobile data hotspot from Verizon (VZ), and that little gadget was a tremendous help in those areas lacking decent T-Mobile service.

Through my entire trip, I found it interesting that I never went into a business that required wearing a mask. Also, masks on employees were rare. My stops were at Best Western Hotels and quite a number of convenience stores/gas stations. Also, in 2,000 miles of Interstate driving, I only saw one Tesla. Scratch that: I did see a diesel fuel-burning 18-wheel car hauler trucking a load of Teslas eastward.

I drove three days to buy a trailer because Elkhart, Indiana, is the U.S. hub of RV manufacturing. The dealer I bought from is less than 100 miles from Elkhart. Trailers sold in the Western U.S. have $3,000 to $4,000 of shipping costs added to the price. My new RV is a Rockwood-brand travel trailer. Rockwood is one of the many RV brands under the Forest River corporate umbrella. And Forest River is also a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. I am excited to get out with the trailer and experience more of America. See you on the road!