Everyone who owned common stocks in the U.S. went through hell in the first quarter of this year. The 36% decline in the S&P 500 Index in February and March was the fastest 36% decline of my lifetime. This hell was especially damaging to those of us who have a positive view of the U.S. economy over the next ten years.
On June 4, 2020, eBay (EBAY) released a business update to make investors aware that the quarantine circumstances have caused their business to perform “significantly better than expectations,” compared to their earnings report on April 29, 2020.
We are big fans of Buffett’s theories about businesses with low capital requirements and the ability to throw off cash to owners. Unfortunately, he recently emphasized indexing and didn’t shy folks away from today’s glamour tech stocks which require more and more capital
One of our favorite financial writers is Bloomberg’s John Authers. He recently wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about an investment company by the name of Hindsight Capital. In hindsight, or in the company’s case, Hindsight Capital, he talked about what the firm did and what you should have done over the last ten years to produce outstanding returns.
When baby-boomer adults were in their twenties, we sang along with Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. Their song, “Money for Nothing” defined the era of music videos. We got cable in 1981 and will admit that we were glued to the TV watching music videos of the bands and performers we loved.
We live in a world defined by change. Anyone in doubt need only wait a few days to be reminded. Humans endeavor to measure it, describe it, and develop strategies designed to control it.
It is human to want to win and we are pre-programmed as children to get what we want quickly. Then we become adults in need of good investment returns and we are forced to operate in longer time frames of five to ten years. Only mavericks want to do what is needed.
In a recent interview by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria with Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft, Gates reflected on the wizardry of Steve Jobs and his ability to “cast spells on people.” Since Gates was a tech-magnate in his own right, his “minor wizard” status gave him the ability to identify the spells Jobs cast on employees and the world at large.
The stock market has a history of torturing highly-valued knowledge. About every seven years a consensus forms around the fastest growing sector of the stock market, or the fastest growing country, or the fastest growing industry.
We have written a good deal about the parallels of today’s market with the tech and telecom bubble of the late 1990’s. While no two time periods are ever the same, today’s rhymes are eerily similar in some respects, with the latest development in initial public offerings (IPOs) as the latest example.
My career started in 1994, which was a stealth bear market for stocks and an outright bear market for bonds. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan hiked rates seven times as he played catch up in response to a percolating economy that rediscovered its sea legs coming off the 1991 recession.
The singer, Prince, wrote about “partying like it’s 1999.” We can tell you that 1999 was no party unless you owned the most popular tech stocks and the hottest initial public offerings of the latest dot-com company.
In the famous book, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were one human being with a split personality. Dr. Jekyll healed people and Mr. Hyde murdered them. This economic environment and the U.S. stock market have the same kind of split personality.
The market hates ambiguity. That’s what we’re told, and on any short-term basis, we can see the market vote accordingly. In a world where investing has morphed towards algorithmic trading systems influencing daily volatility, many have come to accept this as a reasonable truth and participate by selling when things lose clarity or piling in when visibility is perceived.
The actor, Tom Cruise, is as enigmatic as the U.S. stock market. He has made many terrific movies over the years and today’s stock market reminds us of his classic sports movie, Jerry Maguire. Jerry was a top sports agent for a large agency and then suddenly, out of nowhere, was dumped out on the street with one client and a top college recruit to work with.
We have written profusely about the investment myopia of today which has focused on “growth at any price companies” without regard to profits or free cash-flow. We do this because we know success in investing requires a healthy degree of discomfort for it to be profitable, and we know how much comfort today’s investor has found by owning what has worked.
The stock market has put on quite a show over the last decade. Including dividends, domestic stocks have nearly quadrupled since the bottom in March 2009. Most of the crowd missed the best parts of the broader show, but that hasn’t stopped the excitement being built around the encore.
Money flowed into passive investment vehicles at an ever-increasing rate in 2017. It was a record year for these products designed to replicate a stock market index and agnostically own a basket of securities without discretion.
A Forbes article of July 1974 profiled John Templeton and highlighted some of the wisdom he implemented in his investment process. The article touched on his discipline of consistently praying to God “for wisdom and clear thinking” at the start of each directors meeting for the Templeton Growth Fund.
March 10, 2017 was the 8th anniversary of the bull market in stocks that began in 2009. While the economic recovery from that same period has been labeled many things including “muddle-through”, “new-normal”, or other various metaphors suggesting anemia, the stock market recovery has been quite the opposite.
The term “animal spirits” is a way to describe what drives human behavior to consume, take risk and engage the instinctual proclivities that are natural to economic living.