It’s spring. My neighbor’s lawnmower reminds me of yardwork yet to be done. It is stereotypically sunny and I am in shorts. One of the area’s wettest winters is gone, well, except for that bit of frost this morning. The stock market has a different set of seasons: earnings, christmas, fiscal, and calendar. We’ve just passed out of 1Q12, the first quarter of 2012. I’m watching for bulbs in the yard and progress in my stocks. For now, it looks like dandelions with a hint of crocosmia – a bit of work now and a promise of gorgeous foliage.
Every human endeavor seems to spawn its own vocabulary. Investing definitely has a unique nomenclature. Naked shorts is not what everyone would envision, and they aren’t necessarily pretty. 1Q12 is the shorthand for the first quarter of 2012 (1 = first, Q = quarter, 12 = 2012 – which I am sure you understand and yet someone will have learned something.) Companies are typically vague about milestones, product release dates, and announcements. Being too specific makes it easier for competitors to maneuver and also makes it easier for lawsuits to sprout from simple slides. Investors can be touchy.
When a company announces that they will announce something in 1Q12 it can mean anytime from January 1st to March 31st. As the days go by there is a greater probability that the day is getting closer – until the company restates the announcement as 1H12, which is the first half of 2012. That sounds like less of a slip that 2Q12, as if they meant 1H12 all along.
We are one week into 2Q12. Amongst my stocks there were various announcements in 1Q12, but nothing that significantly and persistently improved any of the prices. My optimism has shifted from 1Q12 to the three months minus one week remaining in 2Q12. Something good is going to happen, it is inevitable. I am an optimist. Can you tell?
Hello AMSC, how about a resurgence in orders, and maybe some superconductor cable sales? Hey, Dendreon (DNDN) are you ever going to announce that European expansion? Yo, Microvision (MVIS), Google is doing eyewear. I’d love to hear that it will be with Microvision (or PicoP) inside.
News is hidden. Both good news and bad news are only to be revealed to all at once because no one is supposed to have an unfair advantage. The legislation or regulation aimed for “full disclosure” which of course had the opposite effect of encouraging companies to say as little as possible because that was more manageable and less litigious.
We have less than three quarters to go in 2012. We’re already more than one-quarter of the way through the year. The pessimist in me laments the passage of time without substantive progress. As I said above, the optimist in me considers the probability that the good news is getting closer.
Despite the evidence of my portfolio, attempts at selling my home, and my job search, the economy is looking better. For a long time the pessimists looked right. A lot of euphemisms for “I told you so” went by. Some think this upturn is a blip before the big fall. For a long time optimism was out of fashion. Maybe it is returning. Maybe that is only because it is an election year. Maybe it is because enough dysfunctional organizations defuncted.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the short term. Such predictions are inherently risky and based more on chance than data. So much substantive news is hidden that everyone is left with guesses and estimates.
I am a fan of history. We progress. Within each civilization and age people have predicted rises and falls, and only in reflection is it possible to see who was right. Even then it is hard to distinguish the lucky from the wise. Booms and busts are terrible bases for extrapolation. The predicted highs and lows are rarely seen and if they are touched it is not for long. Things rarely work out the way we expect. The internet bubble popped as many predicted (and counter to what many others predicted) but the trend remained. The stocks dropped, wealth vanished, and companies imploded; but the web traffic climbed, the internet has become the infrastructure of commerce, and information is becoming free and ubiquitous. The joke about refrigerators having their own IP address is coming true. Once upon a time a computer on a desk sounded ludicrous and a computer on every desk unreal. Our economy is passing through turmoil, but as a people we are progressing, and I suspect that the truth will be a mixture of the pessimist and the optimist.
Underlying progress can be ephemeral. Sometimes the news is hidden for regulatory reasons. Sometimes the news is taken for granted. Sometimes the news is overlooked because it is unbelievable, incredible. Hidden news produces the overnight part of the overnight success. The progress was there, but no one noticed until all at once they did.
I hope that is the case with my portfolio, my business, my life, and also with our common consciousness, awareness, and progress to a blooming of another age. In some ways, the last decade has been a walk through the weeds. It is time for some flowers. Hello spring, or in the investing vernacular, 2Q12 – and everything that comes after.