What do you really dream of doing? Is it to take the candy away from the fat cats who drove down the stock of a store you wouldn't be caught dead in? Is it to have a share of a big screen movie company theatre that you fear being sneezed on or coughed at? Is your real goal to prove that the market's a rigged game and you can figure it out, bust it and make fortunes from it via an app that may or may not offer the best price and can even cut you off because of its problems and not yours?
Well, then, turn me off. I want fair and free markets for all, including, especially the merrymen, a less charged name for the newer stock market loyalists, and I want the government to work to level the playing field, but what I want most is for you to understand what you are looking for or should be looking for if you want to speculate wisely.
Unlike everyone else in my job I am a huge believer in speculation provided you do it informatively and don't use borrowed money or margin. Is that gambling? No. I love black jack, I mean love it, I know when to hit and I know when to stand and when to double down and I can play for hours and hours.
That's not what I am talking about at all.
I am talking about trying to find an idea, a theme, that is really big, and taking it for a ride, a long one and getting some phenomenal gains that make sense and can be justified by more than just rocket emojis and Mel Gibson pictures and nihilistic battle cries.
We all know Tesla, Elon Musk's baby, with a stock that went from $146 to $864 in the last year and is now $800 billion in value, seven times Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) combined. We nailed that. Well played.
Do you know PLUG, though, the outfit I have had on Mad Money many times, the one that's run by Andy Marsh, the distinctly non-Muskian CEO of Plug Power? Do you know that stock is up 1600% in the last year?
They could not be more different. Musk is a volatile, kind of loveable in his own way character who has figured out how to make great cars -- and they better stay great, don't like these recalls -- worldwide and has huge cash flow because he's an insanely good builder of what we want. He's charismatic. Love that.
Andy Marsh? Nerd. Plug Power's up near Albany, N.Y. He's been working up there since 2008. A few years before that he spent almost two decades in sales and technical work at Lucent, the old Bell Labs, and center of the cellphone development.
I point all of that out for one reason. Because you need to keep your eye on the Marshs as well as the Musks. Here's why. Plug Power's been a perennial dog. This thing's been a consistent money loser because the technology behind green energy, which many people would contend is the cleanest energy of all, is simply and totally uneconomic and impractical.
That's what they said about electric vehicles at one time. Musk showed you what could happen there. Marsh is showing you what could happen if we could get hydrogen fuel cells -- a technology Musk decries -- to a credible competitive level. Given demand for his products, he, like Musk, has been able to raise gross billing revenue prospects repeatedly and is building five new plants in this country and working on a plan for hydrogen fuel power in South Korea which is deeply committed to it, so deep that SK, one of its big companies, gave them $1.5 billion and took a 51 million share stake at $29, yes, much less than last week's $65 offering. That's okay, there wouldn't have been a $65 without a $29 fueled South Korean pitstop.
I believe in Marsh because he has convinced me that fuel cells can be economic and because I think this country is going to, under President Biden, be more committed to greener energy. But mostly I believe him because two of his biggest clients, Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN) , are more committed to stopping climate change than the government and this fuel will be best used as a long-haul truck fuel. Any of the major oil companies should have bought Plug Power when they had a chance instead of merging with each other. Ten years ago you could have bought this company for a song. Now it would probably cost $50 billion to buy.
Now here's the real trick: Other than for forklifts, this technology, which has speedy charging, isn't economic at all. It works but a company like GM or General Electric (GE) can't bother with it. Can't scale. Yet. Nor could cellphones.
Does it matter to you, the investor? Yes. Because it requires belief. Great investing requires belief. I was skeptical but I ended up believing in Musk in time. Same with Marsh.
Conclusion: You want to speculate well? Believe, trust, verify, make sure the capital is there, stay skeptical but recognize that where there is a NEED --- clean long haul transport by real companies and countries -- there is a way.