Volatility Reigns As Investors Ponder 2019!
Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises. Demosthenes
The year ends in a few days, let me say thank you to anyone who has read the blog this year or at any time in the past. Each week, I review the end product and often times it has merit, though there are still too many minor mistakes. Still, there remains plenty of room for improvement in any number of areas, so hope springs eternal. Nonetheless, thanks for taking the few moments to read through it, I appreciate your time. As we all realize, the world constantly changes and time does not stand still for any of us. With respect to the business world, there might not ever have been a time when so many industries are in the middle of potentially profound changes to the long time status quo. I thought it would be beneficial to take a look at some major business groups and think about the path forward.
In the financial services area, some people think the barbarians are at the gate and ready to threaten the major money center banks. In consumer banking, Goldman Sachs has started an online bank to try and attract deposits. It is widely thought that Amazon will enter into consumer banking, and it already has a small business lending initiative through its Prime service. On line broker Robinhood recently offered a 3% interest brokerage account as a way to compete for investors. Peer to peer lending continues to create more interest and competitors. Fin-tech is a heavily invested area for the venture capital industry as a way to revolutionize payments in the areas of payment processing, currency exchange, and back office efficiency. Block-chain technology is also part of this area along with artificial intelligence, data analytic s, augmented reality and virtual reality. Data security, privacy, and protection are top of mind for any large company and especially the largest investment banks, brokers, commercial and merchant banks. The companies that gain traction and build ever bigger customer bases have the ability to leverage that strength and pick and choose the most profitable and relevant areas to focus on. Platforms with multidimensional offerings and broad distribution are situations I find interesting.
In the media and telecom area, the convergence of cable and telecom providers makes a great deal of sense, so the long awaited consolidation of those major players should start to take shape, depending on the entities and which company has control. Of course, the price paid and how it is financed are critical elements. In content, the biggest technology companies are forcing consolidation among the studios and making it very difficult to compete because of the massive scale of the Amazon’s and Facebook’s of the world. It has been evident for a long time, but 2019 should be the year when we see more clarity in terms of which content providers benefit from the technology competition, and those that ultimately get purchased. In technology, the blending of competitive areas by Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook probably only increases. Apple’s move into a subscription type service with many different aspects, Amazon’s emergence in search and advertising, Facebook’s entry into hardware and more emphasis on search, and Google’s success with venture investing, lead in self driving cars, and entry into voice enabled devices all are indications that the largest tech companies have no limit on their aspirations to grow their reach (profits).
In the health care industry, my information indicates hospital costs are dramatically higher versus those providers of specialized services. Look for a continued move by hospitals to outsource their non core competencies to companies which are more efficient. In gaming, the passage of legalized sports betting has exploded interest in this area. Many states will pass sports betting in 2019 and may include some form of internet betting as well, depending on those jurisdictions. The Indian tribal gaming market is a major part of this and an opportunity which deserves a good hard look. In the auto area, higher interest rates are making purchases more expensive, but the emergence of electric cars and the race to having a self driving car which functions on par with a human product is only going to become more competitive. It is a very interesting area, but not one I could feel comfortable investing in, but certainly worth watching.
As for last week, volatility was the name of the game as we had the worst selloff ever on the day before Christmas, followed by a day where the market set daily records for the largest jump. Tax loss selling still dominates a great deal of activity, along with looking for those situations which are unduly punished. As we keep mentioning, over a long period of time, and when we get finished with these seasonal issues, I suspect it will be quite clear whether or not investors were currently presented with good opportunities. In many cases, they will look small but turn out very large, just as Demosthenes stated centuries ago.
Yale Bock, Y H & C Investments, its clients, and the family of Yale Bock have positions in the securities mentioned in the blog, Investing in securities involves risk and the potential loss of ones principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investment decisions should be considered with respect to ones risk tolerance, return objectives, liquidity needs, tax considerations, and one's overall financial situation. The fact that Yale Bock has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst in no way means or guarantee performance better than market indexes.