We Might Be Seeing Made In America Again

The international shipping strains that came with the Covid shutdowns were truly eye-opening for the American industrial sector. Suddenly fully aware of our overseas manufacturing partners, we found ourselves dealing with shipping backlogs and product scarcities across nearly every segment of the American retail market.

 Even today, we’re experiencing extended logistics delays from Asia. Some of these supply sources are proving so sketchy that businesses are rethinking their cheap overseas options…

 American executives are even rallying around the idea of bringing everything back home.

 Bloomberg reported:

 “Rattled by the most recent wave of strict Covid lockdowns in China, the long-time manufacturing hub of choice for multinationals, CEOs have been highlighting plans to relocate production – using the buzzwords onshoring, reshoring, or nearshoring – at a greater clip this year than they even did in the first six months of the pandemic, according to a review of earnings call and conference presentations transcribed by Bloomberg. (Compared to pre-pandemic periods, these references are up over 1,000%.)”

 That could have amazing long-term effects in bolstering the American economy. But short term, we have to note that these last couple of months have been difficult for the American industrial wing.

 In fact, new data shows U.S. manufacturing reached a two-year low last month.

 Earlier this week, The Institute for Supply Management released its July index for manufacturing activity. All told, it offered several mixed messages, painting simultaneous pictures of slow growth and steady contraction.

 For those with exposure in the retail or industrial sectors, this report is certainly worth a glance.

 For me though, the biggest takeaway comes from the Manufacturing PMI. This index is one of the best metrics to judge the U.S manufacturing sector.

 And this month, it showed activity at 52.8 – its lowest point since June 2020, signaling a definite drop in demand for American-made factory products. Then again, it doesn’t exactly point to a major contraction either.

 Usually, anything above 50 signals expansion. So, once again, there’s more than one conclusion to reach.

 The results can easily fit into a bearish mentality – things are slowing, guys and gals. Watch out! – or a bullish one that shows we’re doing pretty excellently all things considered.

 As with every other interpretation out there, take your pick!

More Non-REIT News to Know About 

 I have to say, I’m impressed with some of the creativity we’ve seen from retailers these days.

 Yesterday, I wrote about how dollar stores are introducing produce aisles to further lure in cash-strapped shoppers. Now it seems manufacturers are altering their product lines as well.

 Unilever (UL), for one, is launching cheaper bundled varieties of brands such as Degree deodorant and Suave shampoo. Meanwhile, it’s holding prices firm for products like Dove soap.

 The company also presented new alternatives of personal-care brands – including premium ones such as SheaMoisture haircare – that it believes might catch cash-strapped consumers’ attention.

 Kraft Heinz (KHC), for its part, is introducing items like 10-packs of Kraft Mac & Cheese and $1 Lunchables. And PepsiCo (PEP) is stocking many stores with higher volumes of low-price snacks such as Santitas tortilla chips.

 It’s interesting to see both consumer brands and retailers pivoting so quickly amid all this economic uncertainty. While they’re certainly looking out for their own bottom line, it does seem like their efforts could significantly ease cost concerns for the American consumer.

 In which case, I’m all for it.

 The World According to REITs 

 Iron Mountain (IRM) is a very versatile real estate investment trust (REIT). Impressively so.

 It operates an extensive portfolio of innovative storage and data centers. Plus, this dynamic, multi-disciplined business provides asset lifecycle management and information management services.

 You’ve probably seen its trucks driving from business to business collecting data to either store or dispense of. And if you haven’t, you’re probably going to notice them now.

 Recently, Iron Mountain announced yet another new venture that it’s adding to its suite of services. Its content services platform, Iron Mountain InSight is now available to customers as a software as a service (SaaS) offering on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

 Through this expanded effort, InSight will help customers with end-to-end services, including managing their entire information lifecycle for both physical and digital content.

 That way, those businesses can accelerate their digital journeys and seize greater value from their data stored on AWS… a win-win all around! William L. Meaney, president, and CEO at Iron Mountain, said:

 “Launching Iron Mountain InSight SaaS platform on AWS is a critical step for enabling our customers. And it deepens our relationship with AWS. We are continuing to evolve our offerings to meet the changing needs of our customers, furthering our commitment to enabling a native, cloud first approach increasing our flexibility, and bolstering customers’ ability to achieve strategic goals in the hybrid world.”

 And here are remarks from Chris Grusz, director of independent software vendor partner and AWS Marketplace business development:

 “AWS and Iron Mountain strive to work backwards from our customer needs to help customers gain insights from their physical and digital assets. Iron Mountain’s InSight SaaS on AWS allows customers to accelerate their journey from physical to digital to cloud at petabyte scale, and unlock value from their data with AWS AI/ML services.”

 At this point, Iron Mountain seems to be way more than just a REIT – though it still provides the steady dividends and returns you expect from this market sector. Its creativity and growth through the years is definitely one of the reasons I keep following them regardless of popular opinion.

 Author’s Note: If you do determine this stock is right for you, make sure to purchase it at a smart entry point. Even the best of companies can burn you badly if you buy in at inflated prices.

More By This Author:

Don’t Mess With The IRS
Good News In The Grocery Department
Have We Reached The Recession?

Brad Thomas is the Editor of the Forbes Real Estate Investor.

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