The term “industrials” refers to any business activity involving production, processing, handling, selling, or marketing of physical resources. The industry’s field includes various businesses that provide manufacturing, commercial and industrial goods and services, transport, and distribution activities. In addition, the industry’s field also includes a wide array of stakeholders and end-users who utilize the raw materials and energy produced by the industries, such as manufacturers, producers, managers, administrators, labor and workers, financial investors, private-sector personnel, and government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, FDA, and USDA.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the four largest industries in the US are retailing, personal and office furniture, fabricated metal products, petroleum and coal production, and food processing. The five fastest growing industries in the US, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are health care and social assistance, information technology, communications and technology, personal and cosmetic products, and transportation and warehousing. Among the largest companies in the industrial goods sector, accounting, mining, oil refining and gas, and real estate are the most globalized. Wal-mart is the largest publicly traded company in the industrial goods industry, with Wal-mart having the largest market share of any private label merchandise company in the world.
Over the past decade, there has been a trend for industries to leverage their physical assets through acquisitions and joint venture partnerships (joint ventures are simply transactions in which two companies enter into a business partnership to increase their output and efficiency). This is a relatively new phenomenon on the stock market, but an increasing number of businesses are taking advantage of this trend, as companies with limited capital can take advantage of economies of scale by investing in a smaller number of companies, each of which can have a significant impact on the bottom line and operating margins. Some of the more popular examples of recent mergers and acquisitions include companies like Wal-mart with the grocery retail giant, grocery store chain grocer, Sam’s Club, and Alaska Air Group with the air travel and tourism giant, Alaskan Airlines. The trend of small companies leveraging their physical assets, or acquiring other small businesses, is an important and growing trend in the industrial sector, which will continue to be shaping the contours of the markets in future years.