NEW YORK (TheStreet
) -- As an investor, you have got to leave your political and social convictions at the door. It took me a long time to learn this.
Here's a confession: I used to be a socially conscious investor
. I'm no longer exactly sure what that means, after finding out that most socially responsible funds hold everything from Starbucks
SBUX to Walmart
WMT to McDonald's
MCD . Needless to say, prospectuses for "green" mutual funds no longer litter my desk.
Occupy Your Portfolio
I will be heading to San Francisco this weekend. I can only hope the city has cleared the Occupy protesters from downtown's Justin Herman Plaza.
Last time I visited, I spent a considerable amount of time observing the protesters only to discover they really were not protesting anything after all. Aside from a few marches down Market Street, they spent their time wandering, resting and living in a pool of filth that sanitation workers and the SFPD had to clean up and look after.
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For almost two years, when I was Hanging Out in Skid Row, Los Angeles
, I saw the worst examples of poverty America has to offer. It's shocking to me that the Occupy "protesters" would effectively recreate this environment of squalor in their ultimately useless encampments.
They must be too dense to realize that this is not how Martin Luther King, Jr. or even more radical leaders, such as Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, incited change. First and foremost, they made something of themselves so that they could use their money, fame, power and leverage to empower those around them and properly rattle the right cages.
They did not blame Wall Street. That's almost as pointless as blaming Canada.
If I was inclined to become an Occupy
protester, I would do one of two things: Waste my time fighting the movement itself so it could stand a chance of having an impact or
move on with my life and try to make it better. Use the structures that are in place to improve your position in life; from there, you might actually be able to achieve something for somebody else.
Investors should heed similar advice. I go a long way to making this point when I provide bullish takes on stocks like Lululemon
LULU , Ralph Lauren
RL and Amazon.com
AMZN . Why spend your time railing against bubbles, momentum stocks and apparently bad business models when you can put that aside and buy stocks that actually go up?
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Take what the market gives you and make it work in your favor. You're not going to change the system, so get off of your high horse and stop taking the easy route of complainer. It's much easier to poke fun at Mark Zuckerberg, call Jeff Bezos a bad CEO, spread the meme that Pandora
P can never turn a profit and blame the rich for your lack of wealth than it is to bust your hump to create Facebook, invent e-commerce and disrupt an entrenched industry like radio.
As Rage Against the Machine noted: Now renegades are the people with their own philosophies/They change the course of history/Everyday people like you and me
If you want to be a renegade, stop calling Whole Foods Market
WFM "Whole Paycheck" and take a look at what the company actually does and its stock.
Like LULU and TSLA, Whole Foods targets a niche. In this age of the 1% and a 99%, you're better off serving an affluent niche than you are the less well-off masses. You're better off with customers who do not have to ask how much something costs. And, when they find out, they don't put the item back on the shelf.
Going after this market and serving it well sits at the core of why stocks like LULU, TSLA and WFM have performed better than, and should continue to perform better than, stocks such as Gap
GPS , Ford
F and the Safeway's
SWY of the world.
It's no surprise that Whole Foods locates no less than three stores from my not-all-that-affluent home in very affluent Santa Monica and a total of seven stores within five miles. Manhattan counts six stores and another under development on 57th Street. The same strategy applies in San Francisco where Whole Foods has five locations and is set to add two more. If you survey Tesla showrooms and Lululemon outlets, you'll see the same type of approach.
Contrast this with Teavana
TEA , which, for one reason or another, avoids
high-tone urban cores in favor of malls and "lifestyle" centers.
As an investor, don't lament the existence of the 1% if you're not part of it or somewhere within spitting distance. Find companies that cater to this and other higher-end segments of our seemingly unequal society. Ride their stocks.
While the stock market offers no guarantees, I would much rather own the stocks of companies that sell to people less impacted, if at all, by economic uncertainty.