In the past 10 days the S&P 500 has dropped over 3% over Russia/ Ukraine tension, Argentinian bond defaults, fighting in the Gaza strip, improving GDP numbers that could trigger an unwinding of quantitative easing, and who knows what else. Anyone who claims to fully understand the complexities and future implications of each of these events should be thrown in a padded room (or given a spot on CNBC Squawk Box).
This is the bad news- aside from diversifying across asset classes or dollar cost averaging, there is very little an investor can do to anticipate and guard against these unforeseen events.
Now for the good news- Despite all of these events and the recent drop, the S&P 500 is still up 5.5% on the year and plenty of stocks continue their upward march as the economy improves and earnings improve. This little 3% “hiccup” from macro and geo-political uncertainty may provide some discount shopping opportunities.
Here’s my take on discount shopping in times like this:
- This is a “sale” opportunity and not a “clearance” rack. Make sure you buy quality companies that you believe in over the long haul just in case that sale turns into a clearance after you buy and a patient holding period is necessary.
- Start with looking at the stocks you already own and know well: buy more of the stocks you still really like that have taken a hit, but make sure you re-visit their financial position and prospects for growth.
- Look for companies that are actually on sale at the moment and have dropped materially from their highs (or have below-market P/E ratios). For example, I’ve been waiting for an opportunistic time to open a position in Disney (DIS) because I love the company, have a 3 yr old daughter obsessed with Tinkerbell, and I believe they have incredible staying power, but their stock price has not been affected at all by the geo-political and macro noise over the past month. I’ll have to wait on Disney until the next sale or clearance opportunity.
Based on the criteria above, ATG has taken an entry position in John Deere (DE), added to its position in Ensco (ESV), and will likely be adding to its position in Google (GOOGL) and Whitewave Foods (WWAV). We are also looking harder at airline and transportation stocks for sale opportunities.
It’s no coincidence that all the companies listed above are long-standing companies with huge competitive advantages in what I believe to be high growth industries. Can you imagine a (near) future with increased capital spending on agriculture, energy consumption, continued dependence on online marketing/ e-commerce, more demand for non-dairy organic substitutes and increased travel for commerce and pleasure?
If so, I’ll see you at the discount rack.