My wife thinks I talk too much. She may be right.
On Wednesday, we boarded a plane to come to New York to spend some time with family. I have a family of five: my wife and three boys. We got split up in two seats of two and one alone. There were three windows and two middles. My wife and I drew short straws like we do by default and sat middle.
While my eight-year-old Liam split his time between iPad games and staring out at the clouds, I struck up conversation with my aisle seat neighbor, Aaron. My wife will be the first to tell you – I love talking to people and generally talk to most strangers (sorry mom).
It all started with a compliment. Liam is a bottomless well of questions, and I just happen to be a bottomless pit of off-beat factoids – such as, a beaver's teeth never stop growing. We make a good pair.
But at one point, I was reaching my limits of human Wikipedia. I turned and made a funny exasperated face to Aaron. I muttered something along the lines of needing more patience and saying how travel can be so chaotic. He looked at me with a genuine face of disbelief and said, "Are you joking? I just must tell you; your fathering skills are amazing, and you're so patient and your kids are so well behaved. It really shows you're doing something right!" An instant best friend was made after a compliment like that.
We talked of our personal and professional histories. Naturally, the subject of markets came up. After finding out what I did, he was very interested in what I had to say. I spoke of the importance of big players in the stock market. Follow the big money to find the real payday, I told him. Then we glanced together at a TV screen on the back of the seat. Some inflammatory headline was so jarring, we had to focus on it. I turned to him and said, "Don't look – that stuff will kill ya!"
I went on to explain about how the media is in the business of selling ads. If advertisers don't see results from their ad space, they won't pay for ads anymore. And given the human nature to be drawn to negative stories more than positive, the news is incentivized to scare you to death. Well not death, but just close enough that you stay tuned in and buy their advertisers' products.
It felt less comfortable to say by mouth what I usually say by fingers. I pointed to the market having a rocket-like recovery the past few weeks, but the headlines are just as ugly as ever.
Follow the smart money, I told him again. He told me how he trades in and out occasionally, and we talked of regrets. Selling apartments too soon. Selling stocks too soon. I got philosophical. I talked about how Warren Buffet compared stock trading to farm trading, and instantly trading stocks seemed to be inferior to investing in them. By nature then, day-to-day news driving price movements equals noise for the long game.
I motioned to Liam. I said, "I look at stocks like my kids. If Liam here is all honors and straight-As this year, but next year he sinks to a B student and struggles, I won't sell him (in the metaphorical sense). I will pay close attention and likely let him sort through his performance issues and improve on his own with a little help and guidance. I know I have great kids, and part of parenting is to let them develop on their own."
Stocks are no different. But that's only because I have set up a process to identify the best handful of stocks out of the thousands available. I pick all-honors-straight-A stocks. If I focused on the Cs and Ds hoping they turn it around to become Bs – for me, that's a much harder game.
By fishing in the rich side of the pond, I can be more patient and confident that the good stocks will ultimately rise to the challenge. Remember I told you about the notion my partner and I came up with? TAGU – "They-all-go-up." That's what we say about long-term winning stocks.
Anyway, with that philosophy behind us, let's quickly check in on the markets. Growth led last week, as can be seen with the Russell and NASDAQ. Consumer discretionary was up 2.44% for the week. The recovery continues except for semiconductors, which I believe is a source of value: I suspect a Xi-Trump deal soon.
We saw bigger buying than selling last week, which continues to be bullish for the market. Financials, consumers, and health care logged the most buy signals. Energy continues to see selling, but it was slower last week.
The market is cruising along. Treat the headlines with suspicion – they are designed to get you to their advertisers. And who are the biggest advertisers on financial news? Brokers. E*Trade Financial Corporation (ETFC), TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (AMTD), and Scottrade all want your commission dollars. They don't make money unless you trade a lot.
But if you start to look at your stocks like your kids, you may end up trading a lot less, spending a lot less, and making a lot more in the long run. Treat your stocks like kids. And remember what Frederick Douglass said: "It's easier to build strong children than repair broken men."
The Bottom Line
We (Mapsignals) continue to be bullish on U.S. equities in the long term, and we see any pullback as a buying opportunity. We expect unusual buying in stocks to gain in the coming weeks.
Disclosure: The author holds no positions in any stocks mentioned at the time of publication.