Waiting for news from one source, get twice as much from somewhere else. The clock is ticking, or the calendar pages are flying, as MVIS shareholders wait for news about a disruptive technology in consumer electronics. The wait continues. In the meantime, news hits about wind power and regrowing damaged nerves. So goes life when investing via that strange mix of a diversified portfolio of innovative companies. AMSC and Asterias had good news today while MVIS shareholders continue to check every breeze for hints.
It is the last day in August, so I planned to write about MVIS and MicroVision. MicroVision has a projector technology that can be as ubiquitous and adaptable as cameras small enough to fit in mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. There is long list of possible product launches this year, and the remainder of this year is getting shorter; especially if the launches, or even the announcements, will happen before the holiday season kicks in at the end of November. Less than three months to go before Thanksgiving, and no news since the spring.
MVIS is the easiest stock to talk about in my portfolio. The idea of a projector accompanying every camera is simplistic and inaccurate, but close enough to get the idea across easily. Even with my dwindled portfolio, I’ve maintained at least some diversity. Diversification is the cheapest insurance against risk. It usually works. Oh well, sometimes the odds work against expectations. I hope they swing back.
Today, two of my other stocks began exercising that swing. AMSC, which was called American Superconductor until they decided to rename the company after the stock, announced a $40M order for wind turbine control systems. Good news for a $76M company. The stock went up over 24% to settle at a close of up 16%. Asterias, which has a name that is indecipherable to almost everyone, announced that their treatment has worked well enough in clinical trials that they will up the dosage. AST was up about 30% to settle at being up 14%.
Nice big swings, on tiny holdings.
More background on my portfolio and what I’ve said about all of my stocks is available in other posts, particularly my Semi-Annual Portfolio Exercise. One thing I’ve tried to maintain as I recover from my Triple Whammy, is diversification. Within about a half dozen stocks I am invested in wind power, power infrastructure, stem cells, cancer treatments, high-end esoteric electro-optics, pico-projectors, miniaturized image capture, and solar energy. As diverse as that is, The Great Recession whacked each one in different ways. From a portfolio that was on the cusp of comfortable retirement, I now have a collection of mostly promising stocks that have a long way to get to get back to even, and not enough to pay more than a few months of bills. The good news is that 2015 seems to be the year for good news. The bad news is that the good news hasn’t been good enough, yet.
My investing strategy is basically ‘Present Value of Future Revenues Discounted for Risk’. (details in my book, Dream. Invest. Live.) Find a company before it has made money. Estimate its current value based on what it might make. Estimate the risk. If the current price is below the present value etc, then it is a candidate to buy. Do that for several stocks. Pick the ones that seem best. It is a speculative strategy, but it is one I choose because it attempts to take advantage of a weak spot in the massive financial institutions. Buy something they consider trivial and sell it to them when they consider it to be significant – assuming the price has gone up enough.
The market’s strategy is almost infinite in variety because the number of investors, stocks, and trades creates a chaotic system. Even the major financial institutions can find themselves working from emotion rather than logic. That discount for risk is easily swayed by someone saying, “Oh, that will never work.” or “That’s awesome. We’ve got to get some of that.” Since the end of 2008, “…never work….” has been the norm. The attitudes may be changing.
Much of the march to market records has been in the massive stocks: MSFT, AAPL, etc. They can’t rise forever, and at some point that money begins looking for new places to visit. Take 1% out of GOOG and investors have to find homes for $4.4B. A small shift out of mega-caps can drive enormous gains in micro-caps worth more like $0.040B . The shifts aren’t that straightforward, but the effect can filter through, powerfully.
AMSC’s news was significant because, before the Triple Whammy, it was making more like $400M from wind turbines. This new order for $40M is from a company in India, and India is expecting to add about 3 gigawatts of wind power every year for the next few years. And, AMSC’s business is not limited to India.
AST’s news was significant because it is potentially the first treatment that will allow patients paralyzed in accidents to regain at least some nerve control. The clinical trials are tough because they must involve accident victims who have undergone paralyzing trauma. It is difficult to find enough patients, and then find enough who are willing to undergo the treatment. The good news was that, not only does the treatment appear to be safe, but one patient recovered better than 95% of similar un-treated patients. The dosage will be increased, hopefully leading to a new series of treatment for what has been permanent afflictions.
MVIS’s news was, well, nothing. But in the capricious nature of consumer electronics, and within the highly volatile nature of startup companies (even ones that have been around for two decades), a little bit of good news can mean viability, profitability, and seemingly overnight success.
Investing was never boring. Then came the Internet Bubble. Then came 9/11. Then came The Great Recession. Now, there are high-frequency trades, flash crashes, and global reverberations. There’s always news, some days more than usual; so, I stay tuned, continue my due diligence, and remember that there is more to life than investing. If there wasn’t, there would be no reason to invest.