Welcome to the World of Forgive-and-Forget Investing

 | Feb 20, 2013 | 7:00 AM EST  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

nwsa

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csco

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nsc

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yum

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wfm

When I first saw the Newscorp (NWSA) numbers, I shuddered. What a shortfall -- miserable. Fox was terrible. American Idol flailing. Way too short a World Series, and with teams nobody seemed to care about. Pro-football playoffs ratings disappointing, a bunch of small market teams. European cable a nightmare and maybe getting worse. Terrible numbers out of Australia. It was a first-class rout, and I saw the stock tick down immediately, from $28.50 to $26 and change, right as I was doing "Mad Money."

We own it for ActionAlertsPlus -- and here I was, so excited about the coming break-up into the fast-growing Fox entertainment properties and the slower-growing publishing enterprise, that I neglected to look at the near-term.

What a doofus I was. What a terrible mistake. I was kicking myself for thinking long-term when the game was all about short-term performance. I should have worn a Newscorp Post-It note on my forehead to show how I had forgotten the cardinal rule of investing: Never invest for the long-term.

Or is that rule now meant to be broken? What if that rule now gets broken every day?

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and guess what? Newscorp has hit a fresh 52-week high. You had to join the fearless buyers at $26, not the feckless, foolish sellers. You had to brave the negativity, not embrace it.

Traders may have despised the quarter, but investors actually took at face value that Fox had hit a dry spell. Yeah, you have to admit the company had rotten luck with the playoffs and the Series. That won't repeat itself. What did anyone really expect from Idol, or from Europe and Australia, anyway?

No, what mattered was the future and how it almost has to be better than the past, given that break-up and the possibility, held out -- dangled, even -- by management, that an ESPN competitor could be right around the corner. An actual honest-to-betsy challenge to the most lucrative television enterprise, ESPN, might be upon investors.

Welcome to the new world of forgive-and-forget, of turn-the-other-cheek investing, of thinking about the future and not the past.

It's not just Newscorp. Remember the disappointing quarter and lumpy outlook offered by Cisco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers? Remember those bid-hitting panic-struck traders who tried to sell at $20 and a half because they figured it would be just like last time when the stock fell to $17? Nope, another 52-week high. People have faith now that things will get better for Cisco, not worse.

Or how about Norfolk Southern (NSC)? Have you seen that stock lately? Less than a month ago, this company told you that its profit had fallen 14% -- a dramatic drop-off -- but that the long, painful slide in diminished coal hauling was over. We had heard that before, right? A couple of times. Here's a stock that had rallied from $56 to $66, all during the period when the company had told us not worry about coal, and then Norfolk reported, sure enough, that coal wasn't good at all.

Get ready for the double-dip?

Nope. The stock just kept rolling higher. Moving up another 8 points. Why? Because we now believe management when they say that coal's better. In fact, we don't want to miss that train as it pulls out of the station.

Most of us aren't used to forgiving and forgetting. Most of us are used to being bagged and losing money when companies tell us that things are getting better. That's why it's so hard right now. We get hurt if we are too skeptical. But when I look at stocks like Yum! Brands (YUM) or Whole Foods (WFM), whose management teams have told you that things are soft and might get a little softer still, I now think: Wait a second. Buy Yum -- as my trust is doing -- or consider Whole Foods. The company deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Turn the other cheek. Forgive and forget. Benefit of the doubt. Welcome to the world of 2013 investing, where dreams seem actually to come true -- and, alas, for once, I don't mean nightmares.

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