I am at an interesting point in life as a person and an investor. I am old enough to remember pulling over to make a call on the payphones when my beeper went off, sprinting to the bathroom during commercials, and humming to the tune of the dial-up internet sound when logging in online. However, I am young enough to have been part of an ever-changing technology boom, not complacent in old ways of doing things, and embracing “who moved my cheese?”. I make this point because I believe many investors are still looking at the trees and missing the forest.
The market seems to believe that we are reopening and going back to normal. As we stated in a few of our older commentaries, COVID-19 has not changed the direction we were going in. It has just accelerated it. We have experienced a leap forward, because we, as a global society, were forced to take action. We acted in a way where operations, communication, and the way we lived our lives needed innovation and technology to move at a faster pace to account for the shortfalls and limitations we’ve faced over the past year. Now, we are seeing vaccination rates go up, and a sense of normalcy - new normalcy - is actually in reach. So, now that we are opening, are we looking for companies to invest in that are rebounding off lows because they have just been so low for the past year in anticipation of reopening? Or, are we looking to continue to invest in and identify new businesses that will provide us success in this new normalcy? Technology has been growing 10%+ per year with accelerated growth opportunities as adoption rates grow. Technology solves our problems - that gets us excited!
Let’s go through a few thoughts and basic examples of companies that everyone knows.
Apple’s 52 week high was $143 per share. It has recently been trading around $120 per share. Over the past five years, Apple is up 348.95%. They have been a consistent leader in tech and have moved their business away from hardware and have shifted their focus to services, which are far more profitable. Some would say Apple hasn’t had a superior hardware product in over a decade, with the launch of the iPad. However, what about some of the new health components in the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, self-driving cars, and their commitment to renewable energy, as well as their easy-to-use and attractive product that markets to lifestyle and their hip, “Apple”, way? Do we think they will build on this or go backward?
A darling in the energy space. Has been adorned for their consistent dividend. Its 5-year high was in July of 2016 and has been trending downward for the past five years. If we go back 10 years to March 25, 2011, it traded at $83.62, and March 25, 2016, traded at $83.98 - FLAT! The cost of doing business, including capital expenditures and regulatory costs, in the energy space, has risen dramatically versus profitability, shrinking margins. Add to that the shift toward alternative energy and a global focus on lowering our carbon footprint.
Currently trading at $57 per share, do we think in the short term, XOM will outperform AAPL? Maybe, maybe not. But which company has you excited about their ability to make an impact over the next 5-10 years?
Additionally, you can think about Amazon versus AMC Theaters. Now, I know AMC got caught up in the whole Reddit news cycle but let’s look at it more recently. The general consensus is that movie theaters will open back up and life will soon return back to normal. Will people be jammed into theaters, feet up, eating popcorn, ordering mozzarella sticks, and perhaps even a few cocktails? Again, maybe, to some degree. But companies are judged based on forward earnings.
Do we think we have more opportunity with AMC, or Amazon, or even Disney? Streaming services, going direct to your TV. Disney has theme parks, sports (ESPN), AND streaming. Look at Netflix too and tie that back to the fact that all their editing and streaming is done through AWS (Amazon). Amazon and the impact they are looking to make in the communications industry with global Wi-Fi, or SpaceX (Tesla’s Elon Musk) Starlink. Knowing that about Amazon and SpaceX, what do we now think about AT&T? Viacom? Comcast? What about 5G?
So, what is your plan? Are you seeing the forest between the trees?
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