Sometimes finding profitable investments today takes a little homework. A recent article in Scientific American is a case in point. Scientists at MIT were able to increase charge capacity and power output of lithium batteries using carbon nanotubes. The researchers found a tenfold increase in power delivery and a threefold increase in charge stored. Profitable investments today will commonly come from new science like that just reported. New science can lead to profitable investments today just as it did in the past with the telephone, radio, television, plastics, and more. However, profitable investments today require taking a good idea and cost effectively creating a useful or popular product. The researchers pointed to this when questioned by Scientific American. The research was done on a small scale and may have early applications to microelectronic devices but no one currently knows if the technology is scalable for use in larger, commercially viable devices. In asking what is a good investment one needs to consider commercial applications of any new, breakthrough science.
What is the first step to investing in new technology? Profitable investments today often start with advanced physics, esoteric biotechnology, or carbon nano tubes 1/50,000 the diameter of a human hair. Learning the physics of the situation is not really necessary to invest in such technology as no one really knows the exact science yet. When the science becomes known the problem becomes an engineering solution to solve. At that point the problem for the investor is having a sense of how fast a product can be envisioned, developed as a prototype, and then brought to market as a profitable product. Sometimes the introduction of an advanced technology is not profitable to the investor as there may not currently be a market for whatever the new technology does. In the pre personal computer era IBM out performed its often more technically advanced competitors with a more accomplished sales staff and attention to just what the customer understood and wanted.
In asking what are safe investments, high tech can be on the list. However, the investor will typically want to invest in a company or individual in research or management with a proven track record. Profitable investments today have included the likes of Apple where Steve Jobs returned from exile and injected new ideas and profitability into a languishing company. A problem with investing in a company with a proven track record in innovation is the dilution effect. Even though companies such as 3M and Hewlett Packard are idea machines they are also huge companies. Ideas take root in their research labs and products are moved quickly and efficiently to market. However, the market discounts this proven ability by paying a higher price for their stocks than one might for another company. These companies may be good for the long term but their values may be too high to be good investments in the short term. In the meantime be on the lookout for lithium batteries, small sized, with a lot more storage capacity and even greater power release. The question is just how large and just how soon and they will become profitable investments today.