When you try to make a judgment about the direction of the stock market or of individual stocks you are, per se, thinking about what human behavior will occur. You are assuming that people will act rationally and that they will not do things against their interests.
When you invest in an insurance company you do not presume that a huge percentage of the insured will attempt to crash their cars or burn their houses down. When you buy the stock of a retailer you might be doing so because a child credit given by the government should end up in the hands of a Target (TGT) or a Levi's (LEVI) , simply because it was meant to be so.
It's the same with the vaccine. I have a physician I have seen for many years. Every year at my birthday I go see him for my physical and advice on my diet, my blood pressure, my skin, all of the usual body parts that need to be checked. It's no different from a car except it's more expensive and time-consuming.
This year, I went to see him earlier, worried about Covid and seeing what's best for me to do. He said that I wanted to get the vaccine any way I could, even if it meant constantly clicking on websites to find a place to get it done. Our staff helped me and I was able to go to a tent in Staten Island, grateful even as I had no idea where I was beyond being at the correct site.
I told him and he said not to forget to go the next month and that I would not be immunized until 12 days after the second one and I should still wear a mask because of the possibility that too many people at work were to get it and the vaccine might not work well enough to stop it.
All rational behavior, or at least I thought. At no point was it a political issue, it was a medical issue. I at one point I figured everyone would want the vaccine because who wanted Covid? My daughter got it and missed three weeks of work and felt terrible for a very long time. So have many of my friends. I know elderly people who passed away quickly. It was unimaginable to have a chance to get a vaccine years before I thought we could and I was thinking it had to be like polio where we all had to go to our high schools to get our shots or our sugar cubes.
I can't believe how wrong I have been about this behavior. We are only about 50% vaccinated because of some bizarre belief that it doesn't work or that it infringes on our rights as citizens. I know that we think of this as something that involves just non-Democratic voters, but Sunday we learned that a bunch of Philadelphia Phillies came down with it because the team isn't 75% vaccinated. How could the ownership not insist on 100%? What king of irrational behavior is that?
And that kind of behavior is what's bedeviling stock-picking. Now, when I even conflate the two -- rational behavior with investing -- I am trashed on Twitter as someone who cares more about money than about health or civil rights. Again, a total misread of the situation. I presume that people won't want to get sick or die of Covid. Sure there are people who take up smoking, another irrational behavior but they are fewer and fewer. But this? Don't these people have doctors? Are the employers waiting for the FDA to bless it beyond emergency status?
We are in the money-making business. We have to figure out whether people will go to work, something we had presumed once the vaccine became commonplace. Do they go to work at Tyson Foods (TSN) ? Do they go to work at General Motors (GM) ? McDonald's (MCD) ? Do they fear their colleagues and rather stay home and collect unemployment? In truth we do not know the answers because we are not able to fathom what's rational to those who don't take the vaccine. How do you divine what people will do who do not have family physicians and are under no pressure from their employers?
So, make all sorts of mistakes when it comes to judging results. Those mistakes will be in play beginning this week, in earnings season. I think we will be surprised how much absenteeism will impact the numbers and how free choice has trumped sickness in a pattern never seen before.