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Contrarian Concepts An Edge For Traders


Scrutinize earnings reports for important clues.

A series of rhetorical questions for those inquisitive enough to wonder ...

What if …

You bought one food stock and one energy stock each time you heard a reporter criticize the inflation number ex-food and energy because they're the two items going up so much? Maybe there's a reason, after all, some say the Chinese character for crisis is a combination of symbols for danger and opportunity.

What if …

General Electric's (GE) earnings miss signaling a global depression might prove a bit over-stated? As I wrote last week, the trouble in getting paid for health care in the U.S may be under-rated.

According to the most thorough survey I know about, year-over-year hospital admissions surged 5.6% in February, the biggest jump in over three years. Imagine getting that sort of same store data before earnings anywhere in the consumer sector. What good business that would be for every industry but one. Sadly we expect something different for these shopkeepers, that they give away some of their best products for free, and haggle like heck to get paid for others.

Considering that almost anyone can tell you how bad things have been across the financial sector, I wonder how many could correctly tell you the worst performing sector over the past five years has been health care instead?

What if …

We peeked at the lineup card in the Goldman Sachs (GS) dugout since we all agree it has some of the best talent in the league? To quote CEO Lloyd Blankfein on the firm's strategy, "We're chasing GDP around the world."

Non-U.S. markets now make up more than 50% of Goldman's portfolio. I would check your own, to see whether it agrees.

What if…

I'd spent more time in economics class in college instead of on the pay phone in the library trading stocks? I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now, and certainly wouldn't understand or appreciate a current lecture on global growth transcribed below.

With a distinguished PhD in economics, Dr. Copper cuts through a lot of words and explanations with a simple line so far this year, heading from the lower left to the upper right.

Click to enlarge image

What if …

People stopped giving me funny looks while I stare at the centerfolds in Cattle Buyer's Weekly, one of my favorite poolside reads? From the latest spread:

"Efforts are under way to persuade the federal government to waive some of the mandates regarding ethanol production. Various livestock and poultry groups are coming together to petition the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements mandated in two energy laws passed in 2005 and in late 2007. The U.S. has a food crisis that Congress and the federal government refuse to acknowledge."

One of my top trades shaping up quite nicely for 2009 is cattle. They're losing acreage to farms and losing food to fuel. So the cowboys have been liquidating them. And what are the odds American's appetites go liquid next year when there's not as many burgers left?

What if …

More people acted like Toddo and his crew? Big ups and mucho karma to Todd for his vision, as always, but particularly for his desire to help kids and literacy. His muscled up crew in MinyanLand has been impressive and fun to watch, especially with three mini-Minyans at home.

If you're new to the 'Ville, I'll make my safest prediction of the year right now - you'll be amazed by the quality of people working here.

If seven out of 10 people in the world were not illiterate they might be able read that only one out of 100 even has a computer to see this. Many of those still wouldn't notice it because they are too busy working instead.

What if …

There was never a more exciting time in history to invest in front of relentlessly climbing standards of living?
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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