Earlier this week, on May 21, Eaton Corporation announced it was
buying Cooper Industries for $11.8 billion. In this Facebook and
Apple obsessed world, you may never have heard of either company.
Both are involved in power generation, including electrical grids
and hydraulic systems.
But I was more intrigued by the age of both companies. Eaton was
founded in 1911 and made the first gear driven rear truck axle.
That would make it 101 years old.
Cooper was founded in 1833 in Ohio. Back then it made plows, hog
troughs, kettles and stoves. It has re-made itself many times over
the decades into the electrical products company it is today. Not
too shabby for a 179 year old.
Other "old" companies have also expanded beyond their original
intent and have thrived.
DuPont is among the 10 oldest publicly traded companies in the
U.S. It was founded in 1802 in Delaware and made gunpowder. That
would make it 210 years old.
Today, it produces everything from chemicals and plastics to
crop protection and seeds.
The Oldest Of The Old
But the oldest of them all is one that hasn't changed its
business model much since it started in 1744.
The auction house Sotheby's was incorporated in 1983 but it then
bought Sotheby Parke Bernet Group Limited which was founded in 1744
and had been publicly traded in the United Kingdom. As a successor
to the original company, that makes Sotheby's the oldest publicly
traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
The 268 year old company just sold Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
painting for the highest price of any work of art at auction. It
sold for $119.9 million.
Why do some companies not only survive, but thrive, through
wars, depressions, assassinations and changing tastes and
SOTHEBYS (BID): Free Stock Analysis Report
COOPER INDS PLC (CBE): Free Stock Analysis
DU PONT (EI) DE (DD): Free Stock Analysis
EATON CORP (ETN): Free Stock Analysis Report
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