Anecdotal information is, typically, worthless information. But what happens when you get overwhelming anecdotal? Is it comforting or is it empirical, the equivalent of science?
That's what I find myself wondering after doing thousands of pieces over the years about different companies.
Take last night. I interviewed a legend, Bobby Kotick, who has run Activision Blizzard (ATVI) for 30 years. I met Bobby 40 years ago and had him pegged as a genius but not this much of a genius. He and his team have created a series of products that turn out to be ways people can stay in touch. Not long after we talked about Call of Duty I found my world abuzz with people wanting to tell me about how they stay close to those who would otherwise would be lost to each other if they didn't play with each other, everyone from my executive producer's husband and her son and her husband's brother and his son. I love that, especially given how hard it really is to stay in touch. And then my stage director told me the same thing. Then I go to Bar San Miguel, my Mexican small place restaurant and there, too, people tell me that they play the game with relatives or friends that would have long since been out of touch.
I didn't know this. I am not part of the gaming society. But when I get that many people telling me about something I begin to believe that this is not some ephemeral phenomenon, it's an integral way to remain communal over distances.
Why does this matter? Because the stock of Activision Blizzard has been stuck in a COVID rut meaning that big institutions, the ones who control the pricing of stocks - except for a handful of meme plays - believe that once people are going out again, the numbers have to come down. The comparisons will be too difficult. The trajectory kaput.
But when so many people in my own little world talk about how they have been playing or have adopted play, what are we supposed to do, think that's going to end? Do we think that people who tasted these amazing, life-like games are going to say "that's it, shelve them, I am going to the movies?"
As much as I like what Adam Aron is doing at AMC (AMC) to raise capital, I don't think that's going to happen.
Same thing with RVs. I do a piece about RVs and I discover a CEO who took an Airstream from Minneapolis to Palm Springs and loved it. Sure, the inspiration may have been COVID, but the rental is about as powerful a testament to the secular growth of these homes on wheels than anything imaginable. It wouldn't matter if hotels had kept room prices stable or been able to maintain the cleanliness that you, yourself can, but they haven't.
Again, I do the piece and I learn that a close friend of my family is trickling out old Airstreams, marking them up and finding eager buyers. This is post COVID, not during. The change is for real. The stock of Thor (THO) certainly doesn't reflect the new adoption, something that's verified by the fact that there's a backlog of orders equal to a full year's worth of production.
Of course, again, this could all be anecdotal. A bunch of people tell me they like Call of Duty. Another couple of folks tells me they love rec vehicles. I can deny the secular nature. But then again, two years ago everyone was asking me about Bitcoin. I dismissed it.
Oops! Thank heavens I decided that it was empirical at $12,000. Don't want to miss the next trends because I feared the anecdotal which would have been just plain wrong.