ZERO to ONE

I recently finished a book titled Zero to One, which was written by Peter Thiel. Peter is an entrepreneur and investor, who started PayPal in 1998. After he took the company public, he made the first outside investment in Facebook, and since that time has been an investor in hundreds of startups. The book stems from a course on startups that he taught at Stanford in 2012.

He wrote that successful people find value in unexpected places and they do this by thinking about business first from principles instead of formulas. The same could be said of all successful investors. Making investments based on formulas or technical analysis does not lead to successful investment outcomes over fundamental analysis.

This week Bill Gross wrote (and underlined) in his April Investment Outlook that “equity markets are priced for too much hope, high yield bond markets for too much growth, and all asset prices elevated to artificial levels that only a model driven, historically biased investor would believe could lead to returns resembling the past six years, or the decades predating Lehman. High rates of growth, and the productivity that drives it, are likely distant memories from a bygone era.”

Bill also wrote that “Northwestern’s Robert Gordon has long argued that lower productivity may now be a function of having picked all of the “low hanging fruit” such as electrification and other gains from 20th century technology.”

Bill has one of the greatest bond investment track-records, but I know that Peter would not agree with much of this statement. Peter wrote in his book that new technology tends to come from new ventures – startups. These startups build a different plan for the future.  They are both imagining and creating the new technologies, while questioning received ideas and rethinking business from scratch. Peter believes in the power of planning and he writes that long-term planning is often undervalued by our indefinite short-term world. In July 2006, Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion. Mark Zuckerberg scoffed at the idea. The rest is history.

I believe that this way of thinking can be applied to many of the companies that have been the big winners in our economy. Eight of the top 10 companies in the S&P 500 companies are continuously innovating. Of these top companies – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, J&J, and Facebook – all share the similar characteristic of being a monopolistic power. Peter defines a “monopoly” as a kind of company that’s so good at what it does, that no other firm can offer a close substitute. He believes that the reality is that there is an enormous difference between perfect competition and a monopoly. Either a business has it, or it doesn’t.

The cash flows for these monopolies require much less capital investment and more human capital. Outsized profits come from these monopolies, in turn, leads to higher stock appreciation. To paraphrase Peter, creative monopolies give customers more choices by adding entirely new categories of abundance; they are powerful engines for making it better. A company such as Apple only becomes a monopoly when people will pay even more money for a product. A search engine such as Google’s cannot be replicated. Hasbro is one of the most popular companies in our local area and they have been a very creative monopoly. I have a few clients who work there and you would be surprised that none of them think of their company as a toy company, rather it’s a technology company that specializes in entertainment.

Geopolitics and what happens in government is important, but not nearly as much as investing long-term in companies that are developing creative monopolies. There is a premium to own many of these types of businesses and this will likely remain the case even through these volatile markets.

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Making sense of Tesla’s valuation

I wrote back on August 6th 2016, “Game Rules are Changing”, my thoughts on market predictions and how they could be best summed up in a Warren Buffett quote,

“A prediction about the direction of the stock market tells you nothing about where stocks are headed, but a whole lot about the person doing the predicting.”

Last summer, many investment guru’s recommended that investors should “sell everything”. Goldman Sachs even sounded the alarm on equities. Since that time, the S&P 500 is up around 7% and Financial ETF (XLF), which I highlighted in that post, is up around 20%.

Eventually, all of these warnings will come true. So far many of the most popular prognosticators are well off the mark on their timing to sell. As the markets have risen, the louder these voices have become. If Buffett can’t time the top, I’m sure nobody else has a chance. There is now even a longer line of “experts” sounding the alarm on high equity valuations, out-of-control house prices, and a divided government.

These investors may not realize it, but they are using a top-down approach. Analyzing leading economic indicators, market technicals/sentiment, geo-political events, and monitoring Federal Reserve policies are very difficult to predict.  The investment results are mixed at best for this type of approach. This 20,000-foot view is often used by the financial media due to the ease of communicating this news in quick soundbites.

Leon Cooperman is a hedge fund manager that built his fortune using a bottom-up approach. On Wednesday, Leon said on CNBC that passive management isn’t how famed investors have built their fortunes. He went on to say, “All I know is if the ability to underperform exists, the ability to outperform also exists.” Fundamental stock analysts make decisions based on the next 3-5 years. These analysts have all been grouped together and branded as inferior to passive management (buying ETFs). It is unfortunate that active managers have been labeled as not worth the higher expenses.

I am going to highlight an extreme example of the difference between a top-down and bottom-up approach investor. As a policy, I never discuss individual stocks or give advice in my posts because there is too much liability. The following commentary is not a buy or a sell recommendation and at this moment I have no position in this company.

This week Tesla passed Ford in market capitalization. Tesla, delivered 25,000 cars globally last quarter, while Ford sold 617,302 vehicles. Tesla is also close to passing GM in total value. Last year, GM made a profit of almost $10 billion, and Tesla had total sales of only $7 billion. This example has many investors utterly confused.

Investors who have bet against (shorted) Tesla have taken a top-down view. They have misjudged as a result of taking a snapshot of the company from this point in time. Using a bottom-up approach, a fundamental investor has projected cash flows 3-5 years into the future. The Tesla story is feasible, if they can deliver on selling 400,000-500,000 Model 3 vehicles.

I use a bottom-up approach. I actively manage my clients’ portfolios with an eye on the next 3 years. At this point in time, from the top-down, the market does seem as though there is a high probability for a correction. However, using a bottom-up approach, the profit picture still looks positive for many companies regardless of what the Fed announces or what happens in Washington. I just hope that that these top-down investors continue to be off on their timing.

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1Q 2017 Review and 2Q 2017 Outlook

1Q 2017 Review

In my first post of the year, I highlighted Artificial Intelligence (AI) as my top investment opportunity for 2017. The companies that I suggested in that post who I believed had the first mover advantage were Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Nvidia, Tesla, and Facebook. In a subsequent post, I wrote about “The Next Big Idea”, which was self-driving vehicles. Intel made one of biggest mergers of the quarter when they acquired Mobileye at a 30% premium. Mobileye (MBLY) is an Israel-based assisted-driving systems supplier.

I believe that the first trillion-dollar company will be the one that innovates in AI. Technology companies were the market leaders in the first quarter and innovative companies led the way. Money rotated out of small cap stocks due to valuation concerns and into large cap companies. My decision to focus in this area has continued to work well. The person who had a magnificent quarter was Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos. He passed Warren Buffett to become the second richest person in the world. His company is now almost twice the size of Wal-Mart!  The lesson here is that the company that captures future earnings is more valuable than the one no longer growing current earnings.

This quarter the S&P 500 gained 5.92% and the Vanguard Total Bond Index finished up only 0.77%. Economic data couldn’t look any better, which is concerning for that very same reason. Investors ignored the sideshow in Washington and focused more on strong economic data. The hot housing market and low unemployment rate has resulted in consumer confidence reaching a 17-year high.

2Q 2017 Outlook

For my friends and family that know me well, know that I don’t like to follow crowds. I’m noticing some worrisome trends emerging that will eventually impact your portfolio. Delusional crowds are forming everywhere I look. Housing, in particular, is exhibiting characteristics of another bubble. Crowds have very short memories. The 2008 housing crash might as well have happened 1,000 years ago.

The crowd forming in the stock market is beginning to look worrisome. Ed Yardeni summed it up best in a blog that he wrote a few weeks ago. There seems to be more interest in seeking out low-cost funds rather than cheap stocks. He went on to write that until something happens to scare investors out of those passive funds, it could trigger either a correction or a nasty meltdown. I couldn’t agree more with his assessment.

The madness of crowds is also playing out in Washington. There have been rallies or marches for or against the president’s agenda. I believe that there isn’t a single person who isn’t frustrated with Washington regardless of their political orientation. The good news is that the uncertainty has yet to have any impact on the stock market.

My entire 2Q outlook depends on how the Trump administration navigates recent legislative adversity. If tax reform doesn’t happen or if there is possible geopolitical confrontation with North Korea, markets are going to go down fast. These types of events are impossible to predict and those that make predictions are usually wrong in the short-term. Getting the timing right is unprofitable.

I’m going to continue to focus on investing in innovative companies that are developing autonomous vehicles, social media, the cloud, and artificial intelligence. I have one eye on Washington, and the other on corporate cash flows. The right call over the past 8 years has been to invest in high quality businesses that are either generating high cash flows, paying dividends, buying back shares, and/or growing revenues. When this formula stops working, then I’ll reevaluate.

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The Streak is Over

The consecutive streak of the stock market not falling more than -1% ended on Tuesday. You have to go back all the way to 1995 for a time when the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index had not fallen for 1% in 110 consecutive days.

According to data from FactSet, during this period, the trailing 12-month P/E ratio widened from 19.8 to 21.8. The 10-year average P/E ratio is 16.5. For those of you who don’t understand the importance of the P/E ratio, here is a crash course.

The price-to-earnings ratio is the most important fundamental ratio in investing. It is also the most misunderstood. The P/E ratio represents how much an investor is willing to pay for each dollar of a company’s earnings. If a company is expected to grow earnings, the P/E ratio tends to be higher. For instance, if investors are expecting a huge tax cut, then they will pay more for a dollar of future earnings. Therefore, the forward 12-month P/E ratio is more important than the trailing 12-month P/E ratio. The current forward 12-month P/E ratio is at a lower 17.8.

If we fast forward a year, and the new trailing 12-month ratio is at 17.8, then the investors forecast will have been correct today that corporate profits would grow over 10%. In this example where P/E ratios have fallen because of high earnings, then stocks are not overvalued. If the tax cut doesn’t occur in the next few years, there is a good chance I’lll be writing about a new streak of consecutive down days of over 1%!

The inverse of the P/E ratio, or E/P ratio is called earnings yield. The earnings yield helps investors compare the earnings yield of stocks to the interest rates of bonds. The rule of thumb is you buy stocks when the earnings yield of the S&P 500 stocks is higher than the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond. When the 10-year Treasury yield is higher than the yield on the S&P 500 then the market is overvalued. This is the reason why Warren Buffett commented last month that he is not worried about market valuations, but prefaced, as long as interest rates remain low.

The biggest drawback to the P/E ratio is that corporate CEO’s and CFO’s can manipulate earnings through accounting shenanigans. However, they have a harder time manipulating cash flows. This makes analyzing cash flows far superior to the trailing 12-month P/E ratio. A skilled analyst will verify cash flows vs. earnings. If earnings quality is good then cash flows tend be more consistent over time. There are entire textbooks dedicated to explaining free cash flow (FCF) yield. Warren Buffett built his entire fortune on the mastery of this calculation.

It was no coincidence to me that the consecutive streak for no -1% moves ended this week as politicians struggled to pass a new health care reform. Investors are more focused on tax cuts. Fear is beginning to creep into that market that Republicans will not even be able to agree on reforming the tax code. Over the coming months, the breaking news out of Washington will continue to create every twist and turn in the market.

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Are we in a stock market bubble?

This is the worst time to invest in the stock market if you prefer owning underpriced companies. According to Yale economist Robert Shiller, who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2014, the market is way overpriced. Shiller’s price-to-earnings ratio, which measures a stock’s price relative to the last 10 years of the company’s earnings, hit a level not seen since the early 2000s.

This is the still a good time to invest in the stock market if you believe that the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy will overheat the economy, which could spark inflation. I believe that the Fed was responsible for the 2000 tech bubble and the 2008 housing bubble. In both cases, the central bank was slow to recognize that poor fiscal policy would ignite speculative excess. The third time might be the charm.

This week the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point. This increase was expected. The real shock came after the meeting when Janet Yellen was speaking to reporters and said that the central bank was willing to tolerate inflation temporarily, overshooting above its 2 percent goal and that it intended to keep its policy accommodative for “some time.” Two percent is a target, she reiterated, not a ceiling. The stock market cheered her change of heart.

Interest rates had already been on an upswing following the election of Donald Trump as president. Prior to the election, 30-year fixed mortgage rates was 3.50% and now it’s at 4.25% (Leaders Bank). U.S. Interest rates would be much higher if overseas rates were not negative. The 2-year German Bund is at -0.81%. Investors are actually willing to lose money not to take risk.

While I’m in full agreement with Schiller’s warnings, I continue to believe that stocks continue to offer the best hedge against inflation. The best way to explain my reasoning is through a few examples. Recently, a client asked whether a 2% CD maturing in 5 years was a good deal. My answer was if the Fed is willing to tolerate inflation above 2% then buying this CD could eventually result in a loss of purchasing power. Another client inquired whether a 4% fixed annuity was a wise choice. It seems like a deal today, but what happens if interest rate rise by 1-2%? The Fed is expected to raise rates by this amount over the next few years. This retiree might be better off waiting and buying corporate or municipal bonds in a few years. This would allow them to keep the principal of their investment rather than donating it to the insurance company.

Please consider your own personal circumstances and risk tolerances before taking advice through a blog. But in the cases for these clients, the answer was clear. At some point, Shiller will eventually be proven correct, but I believe it will be when interest rate and inflation rates are much higher.

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Market Optimists vs. Pessimists

I follow the market outlooks of a select group of investors that oversee billions of dollars at their respective firms. I can’t recall such a divergence of opinions on what’s in store next for the markets.

In the optimist camp, you will find Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. He says, “President Trump’s economic agenda has ignited US business and consumer confidence and he expects at least some of the administration’s proposals to be enacted. It seems like he’s woken up the animal spirits.” Warren Buffett somewhat agrees and says we are not in bubble territory. Jeffrey Gundlach, known on Wall Street as the “Bond King,” believes inflationary pressures are increasing as well as business confidence, which will translate into a stock market that will “grind higher.” Hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper says it is hard to bet against a rally in stocks that have been underpinned by President Donald Trump’s three-pronged campaign promises of deregulation, tax cuts and increased infrastructure spending.

In the pessimist camp, you will find investment legend Jack Bogle, who has historically been the eternal optimist, but he now believes that the market may be rallying on hopes for economic improvement, but the long-term growth outlook doesn’t look so sunny. He doesn’t feel super confident and that you should expect much lower future returns. An even bigger pessimist is BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink, who is warning that there are dark shadows and risks to this Trump rally. Bob Doll at Nuveen writes that investors may be too optimistic about the political and earnings environments.

There are not many optimists for bonds. Bill Gross says another credit crisis could be just around the corner. Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Loomis Sayles and one of the world’s longest-serving fund managers, is often referred to as “the Warren Buffett of bonds.” He is more cautious on bonds than any other time since the 1970s, as political uncertainties cloud an otherwise solid economic outlook.

Who is going to be correct?

Warren Buffett, of course. Why? He has built his fortune so that his wealth will compound no matter what the economic backdrop or whichever president is in office. He doesn’t believe Trump will make America great again because he has made a fortune already betting that America is great. When a reporter asked whether he believed America needed to be made great again, Buffett nearly jumped out of his chair: “We are great! We are great!”

His portfolio is diversified across businesses, stocks, farmland, preferred bonds, fixed income securities, and cash. He maintains an emergency fund of 20% in cash, and concentrates on companies that pay him dividends through free cash flows and not debt. If the pessimists are correct, he will not be impacted as much because he has cash to buy the dip. He actually made much of his fortune while the pessimists were patting themselves on their backs. If the optimists are correct, his portfolio will continue to grow through dividends, inflation, and earnings growth.

While these legendary investors have divergent views on stocks, they have all been warning on the overvaluation in bonds. The 10-year Treasury yields rose 9 straight days, which was the longest streak of losses since April 1974.

Your guess is as good as mine if this trend continues or if the optimists will be ultimately be proven correct. While I listen to the wide range of opinions of these investment guru’s, I believe that Buffett’s timeless advice applies to any market – diversify in companies that have competitive advantages with low debt, high dividends, buybacks, and high cash balances. This is how I’m helping my clients manage their wealth in this high risk and high return market.

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La La Land

President Trump’s well received speech to Congress released the animal spirits not seen in markets for some time. The very next day, the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) had inflows of $8.2 billion – the biggest daily inflow since Dec 2014 and the second largest in 6 years. Those investors that suddenly realized during this speech that Trump was going to be a pro-business president, are in la-la land.

This monster rally, which started immediately after the election, has already been one of the strongest on record. Even before the la-la land investors decided to jump on the train, the Dow Jones Industrial Average matched its longest streak of records ever in 12 days. In the 120-year history of the Dow, this streak only happened twice.

I believe that much of this rally is justified. We are in the midst of an economic boom and money is still cheap. Regulations are getting slashed. Corporate tax rates are expected to fall, and consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2001. My main concern is that la-la land investors are now chasing passively managed index funds to save on costs, and are forgetting all about risk. There is now much more focus on the investment expense than on the value of the investment.

This week Warren Buffett suggested that the stock market is undervalued. His caveat was because interest rates are so low. I couldn’t agree with him more that the biggest risk to stocks is rising interest rates. I have remained bullish for my clients in anticipation that growth was going to pick up and that inflation would follow. I’ve continued to have clients positioned in stocks and have kept my bond allocation low, even for retirees. As the Fed raises interest rates, stocks will begin to look less appealing.

Buffett’s second point was that investors should keep investment expenses low. I also couldn’t agree with him more. I take pride in having much lower fees relative to my peers. Buffett’s argument is really against hedge funds that typically charge 2% annually and also take 20% of profits. He recommends that investors who don’t have time to analyze investments should just buy the S&P 500 index. Buffett, on the other hand, would never buy the S&P 500 index. He hired two money managers to provide him with investment advice. He cares much more about buying at the right price than paying the lowest expense. Similar to our billionaire president, you have to watch what they do, and not what they say. Warren Buffett and President Trump didn’t become the richest people on the planet by following crowds.

The record breaking year is now largely being driven by la-la land investors that are blindly buying the S&P 500 index. Just ask Vanguard Funds. Vanguard brought in $323 billion in new money in 2016. They brought in another $50 billion in January 2017. I would bet that February had even larger inflows than January. Almost all the other large mutual fund companies had negative outflows in 2016! Most are losing billions and outflows have only been getting worse.

If this trend continues, we might find ourselves in a stock market bubble caused by la-la land passive investors focused on buying the same investment regardless of the price they pay. What will happen when these low-cost Vanguard investors decide to sell the same investment just as fast as they bought?

I can assure you that Warren Buffett won’t care because he understands the value of the investment that he holds. Moreover, he will be getting advice from his two money managers. Over at Vanguard, many passive index investors might eventually be in a panic as they have focused solely on buying the lowest cost investment. In the end, La La Land didn’t win for Best Picture. The same will eventually hold true for those investors that will be in for their own big surprise when they realize too late that diversifying into the right investments matters much more than paying the lowest expense.

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News conferences

There were three high profile, noteworthy news conferences this week. The first meeting was Janet Yellen’s televised testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. It was no surprise to learn from her that she is going to raise interest rates this year. Yellen said, responding to a question about what is behind the markets’ meltup. “I think market participants likely are anticipating shifts in fiscal policy that will stimulate growth and perhaps raise earnings.”

On Thursday, Donald Trump attempted to set the record directly to the American people on why the “fake” news media is spreading lies about his administration. Outside the pure entertainment value, there wasn’t much learned from this press conference. The third meeting offered much more insight.

Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway, spoke at the annual Daily Journal Corporation. There were three takeaways that helped to reinforce my view on the markets. They are as follows:

  1. There are no more cheap companies and it’s become impossible to make large returns. The investment world is much more difficult.
  2. Beating the index is absolute agony for investment professionals who have almost no chance of beating it.
  3. You need to adapt your investment strategy to what offers you the best chance of investment success.

A decade ago when the P/E of the market was 10, and value stocks dominated the index, it was much easier to buy growth companies in order to beat the market. Currently, 4 of the top 8 holdings of the S&P 500 are the leading technology companies – Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook. To beat the benchmark on the upside, you must now take more risk than even the fastest growing companies that have huge free cash flow and recurring revenue. Good Luck!

Even Charlie and Warren have recognized that they can’t beat the index. They also used to think that the airline industry was a “joke,” and in the last few months they bought billions of dollar’s worth of airline stocks. For decades, they avoided technology companies because it wasn’t within their circle of competence, and now they own over $7 billion worth of Apple. They also became large shareholders in IBM a few years ago. Charlie, now 93 years old, was asked about the sudden change in philosophy, and he explained how he and Buffett have changed with age. “Warren learned better over time, I’ve learned better. The nice thing about the game we’re in is you can keep learning, and we’re still doing it.”

The reason why Charlie and Warren don’t take their own advice and buy the benchmark is that they don’t want the loss potential of the benchmark. If Charlie and Warren are wrong on their investments, they want money returned to them through the free-cash flow that a company generates in the form of dividends and buybacks. This helps to limit the overall chance of permanent capital destruction. Warren’s two rules of investing are, “Rule No. 1: Never Lose Money. Rule No. 2: Never Forget Rule No. 1.”

I help my clients with point #3. My strategy includes continuously adapting my investment strategy that offers the best chance of investment success.

My next post with be on March 4th. Have a great long weekend in celebration of President’s Day!

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Where did all the volatility go?

The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, had a very good quote this week that he told his clients. He said. “It’s always uncertain when you’re living in it and so simple and sure when you’re looking back.”

In this uncertain market, many investors expected a much more volatile market. Most 2017 market outlooks predicted a volatile market this year. I even anticipated a bumpier ride. But the exact opposite has occurred. The markets have now gone 42 trading days without a 1% move. This has broken a 40-year record! The CBOE’s Volatility Index, also known as the VIX and commonly referred to as the “fear index,” is at a decade low.

The volatility is so low that many seasoned traders are getting nervous. The thinking goes if markets go to one extreme, it will only be a matter of time before the pendulum swings the other way.

The textbook definition of risk in investing is called standard deviation. Standard deviation measures market volatility, and the wider the range, the greater the risk. Today’s measure of risk would show a market that is not very risky. If markets were moving outside of the 1% range, standard deviation would be high. Stocks would be considered riskier and there would be a greater potential for gain as well as loss. In 2008, when stocks were down more than 50%, standard deviation was high, and stocks would be viewed as extremely risky. This also proved to be wildly incorrect as stocks were the buy of a lifetime.

This standard deviation measure of risk is flawed because markets do not follow a pattern of a normal distribution. Rather returns are not normal, but skewed, and have fatter tails. The fat tails indicate that there is a probability, which may be small, that an investment can lose a great deal of money fast.

The investment industry has moved towards investing clients in model portfolios using exchange-trade funds (ETFs) and low-cost mutual funds. Model portfolio’s, which are constructed using standard deviation, in my view, use the wrong measure of risk. Standard deviation is falsely showing much less risk in portfolios. The correct measure of risk is based on fundamental analysis and valuation. This measure of calculating the intrinsic value of a company is implying a very rich market.

The 40-year record just broken without a 1% move, might be the sign, and be so simple looking back, that everyone piling their money into the same low cost ETFs, regardless of the price they pay, was the biggest risk for markets in the last 40 years.

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The Next Big Idea

I’m continuously evaluating potential market risks that can derail the market. I’m also always searching for new investment opportunities and the next big idea. There is one new technology that will have an enormous impact on the economy. My father just purchased a new car and he can’t stop talking about all the high-tech features. He is most excited about the driver-assist technology such as lane-assist features, and the adaptive cruise control that maintains a steady distance from the car in front of him. This is the next big idea. It’s not marijuana penny stocks. I’ve had many people looking for marijuana stock ideas, but I’ve found more companies that I’d like to bet against. I’m sure that there might be one or two big winners, but good luck finding them in the weeds.

The computer has evolved from your desktop, to your phone, and is now going into your car. The autonomous vehicle technology is going to change the automotive industry and disrupt transportation industries for years to come. Similar to the iPhone, which reshaped the telecom industry, I expect autopilot to have a substantial impact on the automotive industry. All the major technology companies are spending massive amounts of money to develop their own version of an autopilot system. Even self-driving trucks will become common on roadways. According to estimates by the American Trucking Association, there are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States. While these jobs are not currently at risk, there could come a time when this once stable industry is disrupted.

There is much debate over how safe these driverless cars are. The U.S. crash investigation into Tesla’s driver-assistance autopilot ended up suggesting that the feature actually increases safety. According to the data that Tesla provided investigators and data from a Bloomberg article, “installing Autopilot prevents crashes—by an astonishing 40 percent.” The group of people that this technology will benefit the most, are the elderly or people with physical disabilities. Florida’s roadways might one day be filled with more self-driving cars than actual real drivers.

There have already been many winning investments in this area. To name a few, companies such as Google, Tesla, STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors, Apple, Nvidia, Mobileye, Delphi Automotive, Bosche, Tesla, Nissan Mercedes-Benz, Uber and Audi are the current leaders creating prototype vehicles. For select companies, investors are willing to look past quarterly earning misses and are focusing more on the potential for future market share.

I’ve been researching the companies with the most cutting-edge technologies. Even though we are still in the early infancy of developing this technology, many of these companies are already trading at rich valuations. As a value investor, I prefer to buy investments at a much lower price. If we get a market sell-off, this is one area that is at the top of my shopping list for my clients who have a higher risk tolerance.

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