Author: Cole Smead, CFA

Incentives Pivot from Greed to Fear

The talk of inflation today looks much like housing did in 2007. Evidence is mounting everywhere that this is a real long-term problem that is only getting worse. You can read this in the media, but yet security prices don’t reflect how damaging this may be. Bond investors’ pivot from greed to fear could crush seemingly safe investments. Equity investors could be hurt by the stock market failure of an elongated equity euphoria that finally got the dumbest investors on board (millennials). This would be damaging to net worth for individuals and institutions alike. It just goes to show how powerful incentives are. What we will learn is how swiftly they can change. […]

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The McNealy Problem

[…] The last thing the cynic is thinking with the McNealy problem is that we are using the past as a guide with Microsoft and Cognizant Technologies (the past) to look at DocuSign (the future). We are also speaking to financial euphoria that we haven’t seen since the late 1990’s, when Scott McNealy was the CEO of Sun Microsystems. The cynic would say that those past instances are irrelevant and you must look at how great these companies are. They will utter the four most damaging words known to investors: it’s different this time. Let us not forget this is an American specialty. “As the nineteenth-century financial writer William Fowler observed, ‘Imagination in this country, lives in the future rather than the past.’ Only in America could a man declare that history was bunk.” This is the McNealy problem.

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Housing: Driver of Average Wealth

[…] As I’ve often quoted in our conversations with investors lately, Buffett said in the 1998 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting that to beat Bobby Fisher you have to play him in any game but chess. To beat the S&P 500 or bonds looking out over 10 years, we believe housing provides our investors a game to succeed. Housing drives average wealth. We theorize that home equity as a percentage of total net worth will go to higher highs than we have ever seen in the data. All this will be driven by the supply shortage and the demographic bump of millennials succeeding. Wall Street gets no such bump.

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Quail Pricing in Oil Assets

[…] While we are not claiming to be getting our oil companies for birdfeed, it brings up the idea of distraction for the Sunday family in the movie and investors now. The Sundays had strangers show up looking to hunt quail, not knowing they were looking for oil. Outside of one family member believing there was a rue, they were willing parties when the sale price was negotiated at what looked like low prices in the movie. These people had never seen oil drilled on their land, thus didn’t understand the opportunity that lied ahead. […]

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Bloomberg Radio: Cole Smead on Inflation and the Markets

Cole Smead Drive to Close (Audio) Hosted by Carol Massar and Tim Stenovec Stocks mentioned: COP, CVX, CLR, DHI For more information go to The information contained in this article represents SCM’s opinions, and should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice.

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Only the Hodlvolk Survives

These young investors have adopted certain mantras. Maybe none more famous than the term HODL. HODL is short for hold on for dear life. What is striking to us is that, while the term is well-founded, they know that to create a large net worth you must hold a position for a very long time. This increases your net worth, while keeping the government away from taxing your unrealized capital gains. In effect, you just hold on as long as you can.

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