Quality Investment Information: Standing Firm In the Face of Opposition
THERE'S SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR standing firm in the face of opposition. Interestingly, most of the best stock decisions have come at times when the mainstream is saying precisely the opposite. Predictions like these can be valuable if one is to build an investment strategy around their view of the world.
The appraisal by the minority over the past few years that inflation would return (while most of Wall Street was bemoaning DEflation) has proven to be true. As we've pointed out in the past, it can be readily observed in oil prices, real estate, and dozens of other commodities where no source of cheap imports is available.
As Steve Forbes remarks in Forbes Magazine's May 23rd commentary, "oil became expensive because the Fed has been printing too much money." In an earlier article, I mentioned that what we're really seeing is just the effect of a falling dollar, rather than rising oil prices.
Still, none of this makes us view the dollar as necessarily strong. In a world where the Indian Rupee, Romanian Leu, South African Rand and other historically undependable currencies are rising steadily against the dollar, its silly to think of our currency as anything but weak.
In real estate, many suggested in the past that a real estate bubble may be developing, but also that much of the rise in prices may be coming from inflation as well. Indeed, if any price collapse does occur, it may be some time from now, and some regions may hardly feel it. The gap in price between the large California cities and mainstream America is reportedly wider than ever before. It's best to use caution in the red-hot markets in Cali, NY, and Mass., but the rest of the country seems fairly priced. One should not be too worried about prices that have risen no faster than the price of oil. While others have predicted (endlessly, it seems) that homebuilders ought to fall apart any day now, a few have continued to recommend some of the best ones and seen sizeable profits result for our readers.
Recently, a few financial managers have decided to take a position on Harley-Davidson stock that differs from most of the investment community. While Harley's quarterly earnings were indeed below expectations, the minority rejects the investment community's hysterical suggestion that this is the end for the motorcycle maker. In fact, they firmly believe this will turn out to be a small blip in the longterm upward trend.
It is decisions like these that set these advisors apart from much of the investment world. It seems that many of the writers in "investment-land" are content to parrot the projections of corporate lackeys and government bureaucrats, without so much as a scintilla of independent analysis. Alas, as the demand for investment advice has grown, it may have outstripped the supply of quality analysts, both in news reporting and in the investment industry itself. This would explain the quantity of drivel coming from multiple sources these days.
We can occasionally find kindred spirits in the media: while it is invariably best to disagree with Business Week, Fortune, and most of the TV business news-trivia reporters, a few - like Forbes, Barron's, or TV's Louis Rukeyser or Paul Kangas - still provide thoughtful commentary from time to time. Overall, though, the U. S seems to have reached a distressing time in investment reporting.
Most reporters and publications are content to simply repeat what they've heard, play on emotions, and call it complete coverage. I suppose it makes sense that eventually coverage of business news would descend to the same level as broader news coverage.
In times like these, it is important to select a few good sources of quality information. It is just as important to wean ourselves from poor information sources. If your newspaper, magazine, or broadcast station has ceased offering thoughtful analysis, stop wasting your valuable time. Utilize your time more productively on the few meaningful sources of information.
In light of so much fluff in the media, it is increasingly important to stand apart from the mainstream. You need information resources that are willing to do so, as well. Contrarians (investors who have bucked the trends) have fared well in the investing quandary. Today, contrarians' biggest advantage is that they are willing to stand out and avoid falling for the latest hype. Mindless followers, in an age of meaningless information, will eventually get slaughtered by following mediocre advice once too often. Don't tolerate lackluster information resources. Seek out quality.
Scott Pearson is an investment advisor, writer, editor, instructor, and business leader. As President and Chief Investment Officer of Value View Financial Corp., he offers investment management services to a wide variety of clients. His own newsletter, Investor's Value View, is distributed worldwide and provides general money tips and investment advice to readers both internationally, and in the U. S.