How to Invest During a Recession
In Case You Missed It
First of all, I want to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the survey last weekend. I really enjoyed reading your responses and will make sure to implement as many of the suggestions as possible. We’ll also try to write about many of the investment topics that you requested, so in that vein, today I’m pulling an article out of the archives that answers a question that was asked several times on the survey: How do you invest during a recession? Timothy Lutts wrote an excellent piece about this last January, yes a whole 13 months ago (long before anyone officially declared that we are in a recession), and I dug it out to share with you again here.
“Recessions, defined technically as two or more successive quarters of negative real economic growth, and officially (by the National Bureau of Economic Research) as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months,” are natural, particularly for a mature economy such as ours.
“Our current slowdown was initiated by the ending of the housing boom and the resulting evaporation of easy credit. The reverberations from that have affected lenders of all sorts and, in turn, affected most consumers, who suddenly feel they have less to spend.
“If you want to blame somebody for the current situation you can blame any combination of the following.
“A. The Chinese, and their growing appetite for food and fuel
“B. The politicians and lobbyists responsible for the ethanol legislation
“C. The oil-producing states of the Middle East
“D. The environmentalists who’ve blocked drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
“E. The automotive manufacturers who continue to sell us gas-guzzlers
“F. The “predatory” lenders who misled “innocent” borrowers
“G. The lying homebuyers who borrowed more than they could pay back
“H. The baby-boomers who drove real estate prices higher and higher over the past four decades in their quest to have it all
“I. The folks who won World War II and came home and had all those babies!
“Well, that last one may be going a bit far. My point is that the situation is multifaceted. There is no one culprit, and there is no one solution.
“Eventually, however, when real estate prices fall low enough, the patient value-oriented souls who’ve been waiting for bargains will come out of the woodwork and start buying. They’ll buy individual houses, apartment buildings, entire condominium projects and more. Downtrends will end. The recession will end. And the U.S. of A. will return to its pattern of slow growth.
“But should you wait until then before you invest?
“No, as I explain below.
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“One of the most common mistakes made by individual investors is assuming that stocks follow the news, and that by logically analyzing and reacting to the goings-on in the world, they can make money.
“The truth, however, is different.
All stocks trade on expectations of the future.
“When newbies buy a stock based on a favorable press release and pop a stock up for the day, who’s selling to them? The experts, who quietly accumulated their positions in the weeks and months before the announcement.
“Similarly, when a stock is trending down for no obvious reason, it’s because savvy investors are looking ahead and perceiving (most commonly) that earnings growth in the future will not be as good as expected. That’s the situation today.
“Knowing this, do you closely follow the economic news to determine when the recession will be over before you invest? Or do you watch the charts to determine when the market downtrend has ended?
“Answer: You remember the immortal words of Jesse Livermore, who wrote, “Markets are never wrong; opinions are.” And you watch the charts!
“Which is why all the talk about a recession means little to me. I’m watching the charts … which look lousy.
“And I’m looking for promising stocks to put on my watch list.
“So today, noting what I wrote above about bargain-hunters stepping in, I want to leave you with a word about finding bargains.
“One of my favorite tools for finding bargains is a screen I wrote years ago based on the criteria used by Martin Zweig, who compiled an impressive record of managing money.
“Basically, it attempts to find good, high-quality growth stocks that are trading at reasonable prices by asking for the following:
“* Positive earnings growth on a year-over-year basis in each of the past four quarters * Quarterly revenues up over the previous year’s quarter * Current four quarters of earnings exceed trailing four quarters of earnings * Positive earnings growth over the past two years * Three-year earnings growth rate exceeding 15% * Three-year sales growth rate exceeding 15% * Earnings growth in the latest quarter exceeding the three-year earnings growth rate * Earnings growth in the latest quarter exceeding 30% or exceeding the rate of the trailing three quarters over the three corresponding quarters from the previous year * A price earnings ratio of more than five * A price earnings ratio lower than that of the S&P 500 * Price appreciation that exceeds that of the S&P 500 over the past 26 weeks * Daily trading volume over a million shares.”
Tim says that running the screen now, in February 2009, yields only two names, both telecom companies: Commtech Telecom (CMTL) in a New York firm that makes transmission equipment and tracking systems for commercial and government clients. Two-thirds of revenue comes from the U.S. government. Turkcell (TKC) is the biggest provider of cell phone service in Turkey. Neither is strong, but we’ll keep an eye on them.
I hope you enjoyed that article from our archives. Remember, you can read all of our past issues at http://www.cabot.net/Issues/CWA/Archives.aspx.
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In case you didn’t get a chance to read all the issues of Cabot Wealth Advisory this week and want to catch up on any investing and stock tips you might have missed, I have links below to each issue.
Cabot Wealth Advisory 2/16/09 – 10 Favorite Low-Priced Stocks Follow-Up
On Monday, Timothy Lutts wrote a follow-up to our special report that was released in December, “Cabot’s 10 Favorite Low-Priced Stocks.” Tim also wrote about a market timing indicator and why it’s no longer used in Cabot Market Letter. Tim finished by discussing a high-potential Chinese stock. Featured Stock: China Sky One Medical (CSKI).
Cabot Wealth Advisory 2/19/09 – Doomsayers Versus Reality
On Thursday, Brendan Coffey wrote about why the end of the world is not near and gave four reasons to be optimistic. Brendan also wrote about how one investor who is adept at spotting trends sees Green as a top sector. Brendan ended by writing about why it’s beneficial to find opportunity in turmoil. Featured Stock: Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE)
Until next time,
Editor of Cabot Wealth Advisory
Editor’s Note: Don’t have time to read multiple investment advisories every month? We can help. Cabot Stock of the Month Editor Timothy Lutts finds the best Cabot stock across all sectors each and every month, so you don’t have to slog through mountains of information to find the top investment idea. It may be a value stock, Green stock, growth stock, emerging markets stock or momentum stock, but it will always be the best for current market conditions. Cabot Stock of the Month gives you exposure to a broad array of sectors and investment styles. Click the link below to get started today.