August 10, 2020 - 12:01 PM
Five months ago, when the pandemic was just rearing its ugly head, I reasoned that people might wear masks in huge numbers by about August. The lines of sheer obstinance and fear of dying would, I assumed, intersect by then.
I also reasoned that March was the perfect time to buy some Johnson & Johnson stock...you know...the folks who make Listerine. Of course, they make a host of cleaning and sanitizing products, as well, and are among the 150 organizations worldwide in search of a vaccine for COVID-19. But I sensed Listerine would be a good money maker for the company early on...it’s easy to manufacture...and who doesn’t know the most famous brand for killing bad breath?
You see, wearing a mask is a sure fire way to determine whether you have bad breath. If your oral hygiene isn’t tops...wearing a mask will throw you so far under the bus...without so much as a loved one’s urging, you’ll make a trip to buy mouthwash that very hour. Now, admittedly, bad breath isn’t as dangerous as dying. But halitosis that would knock you over, even six feet away, who wants that?
Betting on Johnson & Johnson was - as they say in the investing game - a lock. So, just as we were reluctantly accepting the fact that COVID-19 would change our lives, I considered my pandemic investment strategy. Johnson & Johnson stock sold for $111.14 a share on Monday, March 23. Last Friday, the closing price was $146.25...a gain of $35.11 a share...a shade over a 30 percent increase.
Curiously, later that afternoon after one or possibly two gin and tonics, I reasoned a little more. Wouldn’t people change their vacation plans this summer...no flying to Paris...no staying in five-star hotels...certainly no heading south of the border? No, I reasoned, people are going to load up the family in a Winnebago and head out somewhere safe...outdoors where you can social distance...mouthwash in hand. My investment strategy was coming together.
So, on Monday, March 23, just before the NYSE and NASDAQ closing bells I made my moves. Winnebago stock listed for $21.97 a share. By last Friday, the closing price was $66...a gain of $44.03...roughly a 200 percent increase.
I cannot speak with assurance of any cause-and-effect relationship between gin and tonic consumption and stock market wizardry. However, I promise to continue to test my theory. Perhaps I should research William Grant and Sons, the maker of my favourite gin, Hendricks. But, I digress.
There was more stock picking to do before the trading day ended. Clorox, I said to myself...no not a gallon to ingest or use in an orifice as Donald Trump suggested...but as an investment. Once again, on March 23, Clorox could be had for $170.14 a share. Last Friday, the price was $235...that’s a gain of nearly $65...a 35 percent uptick.
I took another sip of my G & T and kept reasoning. People have to communicate during the pandemic...face-to-face but no longer in person, I surmised. That’s why Zoom Video Communications seemed a smart buy...even at $159.56 a share. Last Friday, it closed at $268 a share...a $108.44 gain...nearly a 67 percent boost.
Finally, moments before the market close...I thought, Netflix...oh, yeah...people are going to go nuts with nothing but replays of old Stanley Cup games! Sure enough, Netflix was $360 a share...not cheap...but last Friday, it passed $500 a share...a $140 gain...a nearly 40 percent increase.
Again, I’m not suggesting in any way a link between my gin and tonic imbibing and my stock market success. But if you find yourself sitting at home...pondering stocks that might go up in value when the real world seems to be falling apart...what the hell, pour yourself a drink. It can’t hurt...well, probably.
Of course, you can’t hold yourself out as a financial adviser. There are - after all - rules about investing and you need a fair amount of education and licensing. So, you might just have to settle for being the envy of your Facebook friends.
So, have a gin and tonic, try reasoning how this pandemic is changing your life and start picking stocks...in a few months that vacation that you can’t really take could be yours. As for my family, my investment work is done...we aren’t going to Hawaii this year!
— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.
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