These days when you are interviewing a CEO on the air, you better come armed with the question that the younger investors demand: What are you doing to help the helpless, to save the environment, to empower the disenfranchised.
If you don't?
Then you are missing the point that a whole new generation of investors demands to know before they pull the trigger.
This morning, I interviewed Ron Coughlin, the CEO of the newly public Petco (WOOF) and normally, in the old days, I would be drilling down on every aspect of the earnings, as I want people to make judgments on an apples to apples basis vs., say, competitor, Chewy (CHWY) .
Now I have to pivot and focus on what Petco is doing that helps the helpless, in this case dogs. I wanted to be able to check the box of what younger people care about more than anything else.
Turns out that Petco's got it down: "We are in on an absolute mission to eliminate, to eliminate, euthanasia. Every single year we have found shelters that avoid euthanasia for 400,000 pets."
In addition, the company helps fun animal cancer research, which is the number one killer of pets.
"Pets don't deserve pain and fear," Coughlin sums it up. "They deserve love."
Now this question actually came easily for me, as we are a rescue-dog family. We've got good little boy Marley, before he was euthanized at a Tennessee kill center. And, of course, you know about the late Nvidia, formerly Everest, who was beaten for years before we took him in.
But I would never have asked Coughlin about this in the old days, because it would look syrupy, tangential and a waste of time.
I think Ron's answer may have been part of the reason why the stock went up huge from its offering price. Young people love the story.
Can you game this kind of thing? I know that's not why I do it, but the answer is a resounding yes. Case in point: Pepsico (PEP) . This morning we learned that Pepsico is more than doubling the company's climate goals and is pledging net-zero emissions by 2040.
I like Pepsico, but this company has always been a leader in ESG -- environmental, social, and governance. More than a decade ago, I went to see a Frito Lay plant in Aberdeen Maryland with the former CEO Indra Nooyi and it was carbon-neutral and they re-circulated the water from the potatoes to help create fantastic potato chips. They were way ahead of the game. So it is possible that some young people actually buy the stock without knowing much about Nooyi's excellent history that now CEO Ramon Laguarta continues.
But, to me, the much better play would be the company we had on "Mad Money" just last night: Lion Electric. This company, which manufactures clean energy delivery vans, may be the secret investment off the Pepsico news, because it already has a strategic relationship with the company. You can only imagine how much energy all of those delivery trucks use as they make their appointed rounds. You can't buy Lion yet, but you can buy the special purpose acquisition company that's merging with them, Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp (NGA) .
Nothing's a no-brainer. But how else is Pepsico going to make that ambitious goal come true? For a start, with non-polluting vans. Which is why you might want to get ahead of all of those young people before they discover Lion and buy the heck out of it.