Heaven on Earth

I made it. More importantly, I survived it. Of course, I am talking about my first Telluride Bluegrass Festival. After returning home at 1:45am Monday morning, writing something intelligent about global stock and bond markets is a bit of a challenge. However, Saturday night around midnight I had a clear vision of the world and how to deal with it. I think it had a lot to do with bright stars and 12,000 feet of this spectacular San Juan Box Canyon. Unfortunately, returning back to reality as we finish the last week of the second quarter it seems pretty clear that the world remains confused, rebellious, and disorganized. So, as a sage philosopher once told me, I believe the appropriate strategy remains: Keep it simple.

To me keeping it simple implies staying defensive while looking for opportunities that summer volatility is sure to bring. I was pleasantly surprised reading the newspapers on Sunday that many transportation stocks including railroads and FedEx were up on the week as were many leading technology stocks. These important sectors would not be up if the world was really falling apart. Therefore, it seems clear that investors continue to look for what’s working even though the world remains rudderless to a great extent.

Also, one of my favorite GARP stocks was featured in Barron’s this weekend. The stock was J.M. Smucker. This coffee and peanut butter company is a logical choice for investors looking for a consistent money maker with a healthy 2.5% dividend yield. Smucker’s management is well regarded in the industry and the company is pretty smart about buying back its stock at attractive prices. And, while I will admit Smucker’s is not Apple Computer or Facebook, I feel pretty confident folks will still drink coffee and eat Jif and Smucker’s organic peanut butter if thinks get rocky.

One final image that may give you a chuckle if you have an active imagination. Picture a 58 year old music enthusiast, standing in line with 2,000 like-minded people at 6:00am on Thursday morning ready to run into a park and launch a tarp for ultimate seating for the day’s festivities. We call ourselves; Festivarians. And we have our own “Bill of Rights.” Festivarians are endowed by Planet Bluegrass with certain unalienable rights; among those are music, mountains, and the uninhibited pursuit of happiness.

Now, we are roughly 240ish in line thanks to my friend who claimed he couldn’t sleep. Suddenly, at 10:00 am the line starts moving quickly forward. After a quick check of my backpack and my four day wrist pass, we suddenly start running for prime position for our tarp placement. Actually, I did think for a second “what in the heck have I gotten into” but it was too late. I was a running fool just like hundreds of my new friends. Within 30 seconds our tarp was down and our “land rush” was completed for the day.

With age comes wisdom. So, after the first day we decided to pass on the early morning land rush and made our way into the park at a decent hour and eventually maneuvered to the front of the crowd Friday and Saturday night to see John Fogerty, Sam Bush, and Leftover Salmon perform. Wow! It was awesome.

Have a great week,

Roger N. Steed
June 25, 2012

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