One of the most glorious things I have seen involving the stock market in ages happened today.
Was it Vlad Tenev ringing the opening bell for his breakthrough, disruptive Robinhood (HOOD) , representing 22 million mostly young new investors? Was it the free-for-all decline in the stock of the "F" in FAANG, Facebook (FB) ? Or the clobbering that Paypal (PYPL) took after what looked to be a good quarter?
Nah. I was bumping into Dave Gitlin, CEO of Carrier Global (CARR) , and his charming daughter, a college student at the University of Wisconsin. They were calmly waiting for me to finish "Squawk on the Street" to say, "Hi," and I couldn't be more thrilled. Because unlike the much ballyhooed Robinhood deal, which seems like a bust, Carrier Global came public back in April 2020 at $12 and today, after tremendous earnings, not sales, but earnings, it made an all-time high at $53, after reporting a terrific number with tremendous HVAC sales, up 31%, and an earnings surprise of 55 cents vs. the 30 cents that Wall Street was expecting.
Carrier, which was spun off when United Technologies merged with Raytheon (RTX) had some tailwinds, like the need to have clean air inside, because of the pandemic and clear air outside because office buildings are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions. But the huge upside surprise and the gigantic buyback belonged to Dave and his team and I that's what I told his daughter. I made sure she knew how proud she should be about how this man made so much money for people. Twelve to 53 in 15 months time is the name of the game.
Look, I am not trying to take away from anything that Robinhood and its co-founder and CEO Vlad Tenev have created. Far from it. They have created billions for themselves and are now letting people participate in their great sales growth. You got a chance to pay a fortune per share and many Robinhoodies did, as tons of stock was allocated to the 22 million people who joined Robinhood, because of a bang up app that every young person seems to know.
I am simply saying that HVAC, yep heating, ventilation and air conditioning is one of the most boring businesses on earth and at times like today, with all of the hoopla of Robinhood it is easy to forget is how lots of money can be made being boring, and I like that. The most exciting thing that happened this year is Carrier helped provide refrigeration for vaccines. That's just fine with me.
Unlike Robinhood, Carrier hasn't brought anyone into the stock market. It's more laser-like focus on air conditioning once spun off from Raytheon means nothing to people. Just Wall Street gibberish. But you have probably walked by a Carrier machine thousands of times and never thought anything of it. Yet, you could have bought it for a song at six times earnings instead of 25 times sales.
The Carriers, with CEOs who pay themselves lavishly but perhaps not excessively, or the Nucor's (NUE) the steel company that's also well managed and sells at six times earnings, represent valuable properties, especially when the U.S. government is about to agree on a trillion dollar infrastructure bill and the country has more than 6% GDP. We don't know why they are re-opening trades or closing trades, delta-variant trades or building and bridge investments. Forgive me, though for comparing the company of Robinhood, with something that may stay special for a while vs. companies that get described as venerable, solid and built to last.
These companies are not rarities. You know people have to eat, right? You know that there would be famine without farming. So why not buy the stock of Agco (AGCO) , No. 2 farm equipment, which went from $40 to $130 in a year and a half without ever being expensive. Combines too boring? Again fine with me. Now that the masks are off -- or at least in some places, although Zoom (ZM) is still crushing it -- I, like many others, including my daughter, didn't like how her teeth looked even as, to me, they were perfect. Dentists tell you to get Align (ALGN) . I wanted them on "Mad Money" but the show was just too darned jammed. The stock's up the most in the S&P 500, with a product that, again, like the Purloined Letter, is right in front of you.
I love tech. Created the term FANG, added the "A" when it was clear that Apple (AAPL) had to take the acronymic stage between another "A" and an "N." I am proud that those who bet against me on Twitter, the legion, are betting against FAANG. I wrote obituaries for a goodly time in my career as a reporter but I never wrote as many as have been penned to talk about the group has already made the ultimate measure on behalf of shareholders.
Oh and it's not like I don't like tech or fin tech. I felt the slings and arrows of Facebook and PayPal today. Facebook's management once again lowered the boom on its future talking about real deceleration in growth. I thought it was too dire. PayPal's Dan Schulman talked about how the separation with its former partner, eBay (EBAY) gets done now and earnings will be hurt. This was one of the least revelatory surprises ever. I think both are practicing UPOD, Underpromising to Overdeliver, and, sure this time might be different, but it's sure been the way they have handled it in the past.
Far better to be in the straight out blow outs like Advance Micro (AMD) which had still one more banner day, this time because the company it is buying, the dowdy Xilinx (XLNX) , a sleepy semiconductor company, had tremendous earnings. The two together could be unassailable and even as AMD is now richly valued it is deservingly so.
I can't wait to hear Vlad Tenev's reflection on Robinhood's debut as a public company and about the novel offering that gave millions of shares to his clients. Vlad's not so much a rags to riches American story. He's a poor Bulgarian to insanely rich American because of his on ingenuity. That's a story with celebrating in itself.
I am simply pointing out that unlike Vlad, whom you would have had invested with when you weren't allowed or able to, Dave Gitlin sure didn't keep you out of the better bet, the stock of HVAC king Carrier.