We've endured the meme stock craziness, with all of its love for heavily shorted stocks. We have watched the collapse of bitcoin to levels viewed as shocking, even if they are still more than double where they were not that long ago. We've dealt with Fed officials making it clear that they are no longer on the side of the bulls or the bears. They are on the side of job growth, but are wary of inflation. We've seen the end of the rush to get vaccines, which means that millions of people are going to get the new COVID variant, because there is no natural immunity to it. We've watched as the hopes for an infrastructure bill have collapsed. We've endured shortages of everything from chips to plastic to imported goods and labor.
And we're still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yep, we are in one of those halcyon moments, where the masks are off -- even if they shouldn't be -- and Americans are back doing what they do best: consume, spend, go out to eat and then consume and spend some more.
There are times in the stock market where the collective mindset is revealed. This is one of those times: Things are cool, it's not a big moment, there's no real news for a bit, it's the historically strong period and we can reach some conclusions about where we are.
When things are like this, it is important to remember that buyers like to revert to tried-and-true companies that thrive no matter what. These are companies that have an edge and are better at what they do than other companies.
You know that I am a great believer in index funds, that the average person doesn't have the time or the inclination to research individual stocks. It's a difficult barrier. I think you need to make time to read the quarterly report and listen to the conference call, to Google articles and, if possible, get some research about the companies you own. It is vital that you know what you own, that if I asked you on the street why you like a certain stock, you can give me three reasons. If you don't know how they make their money, who their key clients are and what they make if, then I will tell you that you are over your head and should not own individual stocks. I am reminded by this, because, once again, without a mask, I can be recognized and if I am not holding "Nvidia the Second," I can carry on a conversation.
I have had many in the last two weeks and when I have asked this litany of questions, I find myself at a loss as to why almost no one knew what they owned. But they thirsted for individual stocks, because they, like me, think things are better post pandemic. No, that's not a facetious comment. Many, many stocks did better with a stay-at-home economy. A huge number.
So what do I do? I revert to what others do when you are stumped about how to stay in touch with stocks, but want to do less homework. That means buying stocks that are accessible, not stocks like Unity (U) or Snowflake (SNOW) or Twilio (TWLO) or Okta (OKTA) .
I revert to normal businesses people know and I suggest they Google some articles, peruse the conference call, but, above all, like the company's products so you can buy more if it goes down.
Here's some that I have been telling people I like:
First is Ford (F) . I think the Ford lineup is amazing. The electric F-150 series will be incredible. I am eager to get a Maverick for my family, because it is a smaller pickup that will get the job done for the myriad little things I need to do with this farm I bought from that crazy bitcoin foray. I like the competitive edge of the CEO, who says he is going to bury Elon Musk when the Lightning comes out. I even think the Bronco is cool as all get out. Most important, though? I think the chip shortage is ending. My semiconductor friends are telling me the foundries are producing more feature-rich chips and that means Ford can pump out the trucks small business people love and need. Plus, the used car prices at last have plateaued, according to their most important pricing index. Halcyon times.
Second, Costco (COST) : The samples are coming back. Tell me you don't love the samples. You need things in bulk. You want low prices. You want to get all of the things that people don't think of with Costco, like insurance, hearing-aids -- hey, they are a fortune -- jewelry, things around the house. You go and you will buy far more than you first came for. My kind of store.
The kids love this American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) , which we just bought for my charitable trust, which you can follow along by joining the Action Alerts PLUS club. Jay Schottenstein, the CEO, came on "Mad Money" recently and it's clear that his Aerie model has real staying power: 26 consecutive quarters of double digit growth. No flash in the pan, that one. Number one brand in jeans for the 15 to 25 year old group. The best in the mall. How did I know this? I see the credit card bills.
I got up this morning to do my physical therapy. I have been doing it ever since I hurt my back in February. I have this really cool pair of sneakers that fit me perfectly and I love them, but I am fortunate enough to have a vacation house and I am always taking those shoes with me.
So I went on Amazon (AMZN) this morning and lo and behold I saw them for half price. I bought two pairs. Then I went over everything I have bought in the last year and got a bunch of those things. Then I bought a pair of binoculars, because mine were stolen. I paid half price.
Yep, Amazon's universal. I was talking to Alexa, while I was ordering, getting some new music on, asking questions. I saw that despite all of the Sturm und Drang of Amazon being late with things, all the delivery dates were within range. I didn't click on any ads, and I didn't need the speed of Web Services, but the whole thing reminded me about how special the darned company is. I don't care if it's ahead or behind plan for the moment. I would just buy some more when it goes down.
Finally, Apple (AAPL) . I think people who don't own Apple should look what they are holding at this very moment. Yes, right now. Or look at what's in your lap or on the table besides your fork. And then think about the bill you paid last night without knowing it. Think about what you bought in the App store yesterday. Think about what would happen if it would break or get stolen or, left in the Uber (UBER) , or heaven forbid, be dropped into the pool or in the, yes, toilet.
There, that's what you buy in halcyon times. Stocks of companies you know that if they go lower, because things get less halcyon, you are fine with it and buy more. If things go up, believe me, you will participate.
So accept the moment. Don't try for the hard money. Go for the easy kind. That's the best kind.