Saturday, August 28, 2004

At your service!

Buffett recently disclosed that he bought a stake in Service Master (SVM). Made me happy - I have been slowly accumulating this stock. It falls into my very uncool, but can't do without category of companies.

I first came across this company through those Merry Maids coupons that get stuffed in the mailbox on a regular basis! From there I did some research; the financials and the comforting dividend (3.5%) confirmed that it was worth owning.

Plumbing, lawn care, pest control may be unsexy but there is money to be made. The housing market is cooling down, but new home owners cannot avoid these services.

I own one more related stock - that of Lesco (LSCO) which is in lawn care management. It is still a relatively cheap stock with open-market purchases by insiders. I definitely think it is a takeover target. There was some activity recently in this space, when the lawn care leader The Scotts Co. (SMG) bought Smith & Hawken, a private company.

Roto-Rooter, recently renamed to Chemed (CHE), the plumbing giant (and now a hospice care player as well, after buying VITAS), is also worth following. Expensive at its current price, but a good buy on any significant pullback from here.


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