For some of you reading this, it is no secret that the big drug stores have been a great way to make lots of money over the second half of the 20th century through today. During the past thirty years, Walgreens stock–now officially called Walgreens Boots Alliance with the ticker symbol WBA–has compounded at almost 16% so that a $25,000 investment in 1985 would be worth $2.1 million today.
It makes intuitive sense why drug companies have been such successful investments. There are strong drug networks selling products that people need to pick up in person rather than through the mail. There are basic consumer items that get purchased as well that add to the shopping cart total. The founder of Walgreens was so shrewd about getting the location right that he created the enduring cultural mandate to only set up shop at street corners so the locations will be highly visible and accessible. If you ever see a Walgreens that is not at a street corner, the location must have been a predecessor to something that wasn’t Walgreens and then later got bought out.