Ignore stock valuations and companies’ fundamentals at your peril.
Churchill Capital Corp. IV
a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that had been rumored to merge with a Tesla-wannabe, Lucid Motors, finally announced Monday night that it is indeed going to do so. And in a classic Wall Street reaction, the market “sold the news” after long having “bought the rumor.”
CCIV was up 500% from when it went public as a blank-check company, and today the stock market has wiped half of what its market value was perceived to be Monday at noon. This is a stock that I had warned about earlier this month as one of the many “Random Number Generators” (RNGs) that should be avoided. People and institutions who had for weeks been buying CCIV at $40, $50, $60 or even $70 per share have suddenly seen a huge wipeout of value.
They’re now, maybe, looking around at their other RNG SPACs and wondering if they should actually look at the valuations.
Reviewing this week’s ugly stock-market action in a broader context, you might note that Tesla Inc.
at $900 — after the company reported a not-so-great quarter that included some questions about gross margin expansion — is looking like it could have been a top-maker itself.
Many questionable EV stocks continued to rally for a week or two before getting their comeuppance this week. At least for a day or two. It will be interesting to look back in a month to see what the non-TSLA EV stocks do from here. I expect most to move much lower even than today’s quotes, which are much lower than last week’s quotes.
Piling into ARK
These days everybody wants to be Cathie Wood from ARK Invest. She was an early bull on Tesla and bitcoin
and some of the the other themes that long-time followers of mine and I got into even earlier than she did. Her actively managed ETF, ARK Innovation ETF
being the most famous, has performed very well, and her commentary has been spot on for a couple years now.
But I have bad news. Even as I am a fan of Cathie’s and wish her and her investors all the best, I can’t help but think of the story of George Gilder, with whom I’ve become friends in the decades since I wrote this in 2001 for TheStreet.com. (I just realized this article was published just two weeks after 9/11.):
“Investors need to heed a few rules when evaluating companies in their portfolio: Cash is king, as cash flow becomes increasingly difficult to judge on an ongoing basis. As such, a simple glance at a company’s balance sheet can tell you a lot about whether it’s worthy of investment. Now that the huge daily run-ups of telco stocks are gone forever, the potential rewards of any business with questionable viability aren’t worth the risk of your capital. Look for real revenue on the books. As tech guru George Gilder and his followers have learned (at least, I hope they have by now), great technology doesn’t translate into a great investment. Companies need sales channels, and they need products for which there are immediate uses. You might be surprised that I didn’t mention profitability in that list. Profitability is naturally important, but even companies like Cisco probably won’t be profitable this quarter and perhaps for several more, as they’ll have to continue aligning capacity, employees and inventory with demand.
Let me repeat the caveat here: You’ll never see the type of returns, at least in telecom and telecom-tech stocks, that we saw almost daily in the late 1990s. That’s another reason why these tech mutual fund guys, who keep preaching to stay the course, will take forever to get back to even.”
Telecom and telecom-tech stocks never again saw the kind of returns they did back in the late 1990s. I think the same can be said of EV stocks and many other of the favorites that Cathie Wood and her crowd of blind followers are these days plowing into as they put their money to work regardless of valuations.
Here’s what George had to say in 2002:
“In retrospect, it’s obvious that I should’ve subtly said, ‘Hey, things have gotten out of hand at JDS Uniphase, and it’s not worth what you’d have to pay for it,’” he says. Each month, he thought…