Buy the Steak but Avoid the Stock

Today marks the traditional St. Patrick’s Day, in which both Catholics and less religious celebrants worldwide honor the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland.

Truth be told, there never were snakes in Ireland; more likely is that Patrick nearly eliminated paganism from the island, as the serpent was a metaphor for early pagan cultures of Ireland.

But historical details matter little to most of us today. What matters most is that the day provides an excuse to celebrate Irishness … and to party.

New York City has the biggest parade, but Boston has the oldest. In Beantown, which has had more Irish-American mayors than any other ethnic group, the partying has been going on since 1737, when Irish immigrants held the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the New World.

Nationwide, about 12% of Americans claim Irish ancestry, though in Boston the number runs about 16%. As far as corned beef and cabbage goes, the traditional holiday meal is really an American dish!

But you don’t need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

I, for example, am less than 7% Irish by heritage, but I like a glass of Guinness as much as any man … though I’d prefer that it not be green.

Celebrating the Irish

When I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, what I really celebrate are the brave, creative, intelligent people who’ve enriched the world in so many ways through the centuries, including the following:

Francis Beaufort – hydrographer/wind expert Samuel Beckett – author John Bell – physicist Maeve Binchy – novelist George Boole – mathematician Bono – musician/activist Robert Boyle – scientist Kenneth Branagh – actor Pierce Brosnan -actor Edmund Burke – writer Nicholas Callan – scientist Robert Erskine Childers – writer/nationalist Roddy Doyle – novelist Colin Farrell – actor F. Scott Fitzgerald – novelist George Francis Fitzgerald – physicist Arthur Guinness – brewer William Rowan Hamilton – astronomer Seamus Heaney – writer James Joyce – novelist John F. Kennedy – former U.S. president C. S. Lewis – writer Daniel Day Lewis – actor Kathleen Lonsdale – chemist Frank McCourt – writer Van Morrison – singer/songwriter Liam Neeson – actor Conan O’Brien – comedian Maureen O’Hara – actress Michael O’Leary – CEO of Ryanair Eugene O’Neill – playwright Peter O’Toole – actor William Parsons – astronomer Ernest Shackleton – explorer George Bernard Shaw – novelist/playwright Bram Stoker – novelist Jonathan Swift – novelist/satirist Dylan Thomas – poet John Tyndall – scientist Ernest Walton – nuclear physicist Oscar Wilde – novelist/satirist William Butler Yeats – poet

Tonight, I’ll lift a glass to praise them all … and more.

In honor of the Emerald Isle, it’s only appropriate for us to suggest that you consider the Cabot Green Investor!

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“Sláinte agus saol agat!” – an Irish toast

(Good health and long life to you!)

It’s not just the beer and occasional river that is going Green this week. It’s investment dollars as well. There are numerous innovative, well-managed companies leading the way in a Green revolution … and the stocks of the fastest-growing companies in this sector are climbing dramatically.

Not to mention … early investors are getting rich! For example, in the solar sector alone we’ve seen these results in 2007: First Solar (FSLR) gained more than 800%, SunPower Corp (SPWR) gained more than 350% and JA Solar (JASO) gained more than 300%.

This is just the beginning, because these solar power companies are enjoying triple-digit revenue growth. They’re seeing production costs fall thanks to increasing economies of scale. And they’ve got profit margins that make some software manufacturers envious!

Bottom line:

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Buy the Steak, Avoid the Stock

Sticking with the Irish theme, I want to comment on the two main Irish food groups–meat and potatoes! Specifically, I’m going to chat about the former, as I recently visited Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in Boston for a wonderful meal.

The restaurant is relatively new to the Boston scene, opening up just a few years ago. But I’ve already visited three times since then, and despite the stigma of being a chain, every meal (appetizer, dinner, dessert, you name it) has been absolutely terrific. Their location doesn’t hurt, either–it’s right in Boston’s Old City Hall, just a couple of blocks from Government Center, as it’s known. Like most top-notch chophouses, it’s got a great ambiance and usually terrific service.

Of course, Ruth’s Chris is just one of many steakhouses I’ve visited in Boston. Capital Grille and Morton’s, two other chains, have locations in Back Bay (near the Prudential Center). Grill 23, a favorite of businesses, and Smith & Wollensky are both near Park Plaza. There are others, including KO Prime and Moo, which both opened in the last few months. Lots of competition = lots of eating for yours truly.

But this isn’t a restaurant review; many of my friends and neighbors that visit a steakhouse have different opinions than me. Yet what I thought was interesting was the action of the stocks … at least for the few that are publicly traded.

Ruth’s Chris (RUTH) just came public in 2005, but has since slid from the mid 20s to 6 1/2. Revenues have grown fairly consistently, but earnings were cut in half during the fourth quarter, and projected to shrink some more this year. The stock just hit a new low today!

Morton’s (MRT) is even newer, going public in February 2006, but also is suffering a similar fate to that of RUTH. The stock was just over 20 last summer, but is now trading south of 8. Like RUTH, revenues are expanding slightly, but costs are apparently hitting the bottom line; earnings are expected to decline this year.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) owns Capital Grille, although in fairness, it also owns a ton of other properties. Yet its fate is similar; a drop from 47 last June to a low of 21 in January, before bouncing to its current level of 30. Earnings are OK, but the growth has vanished.

As far as I can tell, Smith & Wollensky is now a privately owned subsidiary of a larger firm, after getting bought out last May.

Thus, I think it’s a good idea for any steak lover to visit one of the premier steakhouses in your area every couple of months. It’s a real treat! But when it comes to investing, the message is clear: Enjoy the steak, but avoid the stocks.

Editor’s note: If you want advice about stocks that will lead the next bull market, look no further than Cabot Stock of the Month. This newsletter brings you the top stock each month from across the Cabot sectors. One month it may be a Green stock, the next a momentum stock and the next an emerging markets stock–but it will always be the best stock we have to offer. Simply click the link below to learn more.

Yours in pursuit of wisdom and wealth,

Timothy Lutts
Cabot Wealth Advisory

P.S. Don’t forget about the free Cabot Forum–a place for you to discuss investing and stocks with other Cabot Wealth Advisory subscribers. Go to and click on the Cabot Forum link in the top left of the home page and register a user name and password exclusively for the Forum. Start talking to like-minded investors when you check it out today!


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