Adventures in Quarantine (and the Stocks I’m Focused on as a Result)

Keith Fitz-Gerald Mar 06, 2020
19 

You may have heard by now that my family and I are “enjoying” a self-imposed quarantine here in the Pacific Northwest because my wife and our oldest son have just returned from Japan.

We’re still only a few days into the suggested 14-day period, but there have already been a few surprises as you might imagine.

Some of which are actually good.

And, more importantly, potentially very profitable, too.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

First and foremost, you don’t realize how many points of contact you have with your loved ones until you can’t have any… contact that is. Marital bliss takes on entirely new importance when not even a hug is an option.

Same with our boys. Just a simply pat on the back for a great grade or to say goodnight becomes something you think about.

We’re also getting good at separating linens, utensils, and pens. Having been in China during the Avian Flu and with recollections of SARS running strong in my brain, we stocked up ahead of time.

This week we’ve begun taking delivery of our groceries using Instacart, a privately held company offering “last mile” delivery services from stores like Safeway, Costco, Fred Meyer, Petco, and more.

I have no doubt that our family has likely played a substantial role in boosting Jeff Bezos’s income by shopping on Amazon Prime … and I’m only half joking. The cost of this little adventure has not been inconsequential.

Like many people we’re noticing certain supplies like wipes, zinc lozenges, disinfectant sprays, and the alcohol sanitizer have vanished online just as fast as they’ve vanished in stores.

While we haven’t needed to visit a doctor – and God willing we will not, we have established our online medical connections just in case.

Some of the surprisingly funny moments include realizing:

  • How much yardwork I’ve been ignoring
  • People who tell you a disinfectant smells like lavender have probably never smelled real lavender in their lives
  • Our dogs think it’s tennis ball time… all the time
  • Paper books are really worth reading!

We’ve been truly humbled by the support of those around us. People have offered to drop supplies off or even shop for us if we give the word. Others folks we don’t even know have kindly reached out through social media offering kind thoughts, encouragement, and even prayers – all of which are welcome.

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We don’t have to be in quarantine – there’s nobody telling us to remain home – but doing so is the right thing to do even though nobody in our family is symptomatic at this point. Japan is a high risk country – Level 2 on the CDC scale.

At the same time, we are keenly aware that the situation is very different for a lot of folks.

Our boys are both young men, so they can adapt, but single parents or parents with young children are going to struggle. School is a place they (the kids) go and we (the parents) support from home, but suddenly this role has reversed with home becoming the center for both activities.

At the same time, we are on a pretty good-sized and heavily-wooded property which means we can go outside without fear of running into anybody else. People in urban areas will not have that option which will, in turn, cause a lot of mental stress, and I’m not sure that’s entirely recognized yet.

Economically, we can withstand the challenge because my work is tied to the financial markets – all of which is accessible right over the Internet. Others simply will not have that option.

Unbelievably, there’s a silver lining.

Three, actually.

First, my wife and I wake up thankful to do so and glad to be with our boys every day. That counts for a lot even though it seems so inconsequential.

The decision to self-isolate, while challenging even in the early days, has allowed us to rediscover a life free of distractions. Both our boys have – thanks largely to my wife – turned into engaging, intelligent, and interesting young men.

Second, rushing anywhere for any reason is no longer needed, a trait I think will change when more people share our “discoveries” as the coronavirus situation evolves. The slower pace our ancestors enjoyed really is valuable which is why we’re using the time together to discard a lot of “interference” in our lives.

And, third, life will change which means there are a number of key buys, including stocks that suddenly aren’t “boring” anymore.

Like The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX).

Clorox bleach will not only whiten anything (including the dark pants I mistakenly put in the washer earlier today!) but kills 99.9% of germs on contact, including the coronavirus. It’s grown dividends for 43 consecutive years and is a fabulous choice for income starved investors.

The company’s stock is a bit richer than I’d like to see at 26.42X earnings but that’s something I think will change as the world recognizes this company’s renewed importance and perspective changes.

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE:BABA) is another favorite of mine. Long viewed as the “Amazon of China”, I think the better play is the company’s new artificial intelligence – AI for short. Nikkei’s Asian Review reports that Alibaba’s AI can detect coronavirus with a 96% accuracy rate within seconds – and, I don’t doubt that for a moment.

Simultaneously, Alibaba is THE go to for more than 500 million Chinese who are now movement restricted or under lockdowns of various severity.

The company that really interests me, though, also perhaps one of the most speculative available under the circumstances – Novavax Inc. (NasdaqGS:NVAX).

The company’s stock has shot up 165.3% since the beginning of the year and is obscenely priced at $10.56 per share for such a small company with a market capitalization of just $459.79 million.

Like many competitors, Novavax is working on a vaccine for the coronavirus. What catches my attention is the pending publication of field research data for an experimental flu vaccine called NanoFlu.

The company could be a “hero” if the vaccine works and data bears that out but it could just as easily turn into a “zero” if the late stage trials fail to live up to expectations.

That’s why you’ll want to treat it accordingly if you’re inclined to pick up shares.

I suggest you use appropriate position sizing to control risk or simply NEVER bet more than you can lose! Many traders consider the 2% Rule applicable to an opportunity like this one, meaning that you don’t invest more than 2% of investable assets in a given trade.

In closing, thanks for being a part of the Total Wealth family, for the trust you place in me as well as the many kind messages, emails and calls I’ve gotten about our experience.

Speaking of which, how are YOU holding up?

What are you seeing in your home town?

How has the coronavirus changed your behavior or travel plans, if at all?

What stocks interest you as a result of all this?

Do me a favor and comment below; I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,


Keith

19 Responses to Adventures in Quarantine (and the Stocks I’m Focused on as a Result)

  1. ron galaway says:

    I live in Florida. So far, the corona virus has not been a problem in Palm Bay, where I live.

    Changing the subject, I have a question concerning losing the use of cash as a payment method.

    Because the US dollar has lost something like 98% – 99% of its purchasing power since about 1913, when the FED took over control of monetary policy from the US Treasury, and because the world’s central banks all want to delve into using negative interest rates, the US dollar would seem to be in trouble.

    Central banks can’t go to negative interest rates so long as dollars, in the form of cash, exist. The reason that’s true is that people would make a run on the banks and withdraw cash from their bank accounts to avoid paying interest on funds held by the banks.

    So it would seem that banks would like to stop using cash as a form of legal tender. Once cash is eliminated from the transaction marketplace, and all purchases must be electronic, there will be no restraint on the government and the FED. They will be able to charge whatever interest rate they desire on their customers’ bank accounts. People will have no recourse; they will simply have to put up with whatever interest rate their bank charges them, if the people want an electronic bank card to use for purchases and other payments.

    So, because the US dollar is constantly losing purchasing power, and because cash will possibly be banned, my question is: Do you know of any way to obtain and use an electronic bank card that utilizes gold (or other precious metals), or cryptocurrencies, or any other asset more stable than the constantly inflating US dollar, for use in the transaction marketplace? Presumably a person would swipe their card as per usual, except the payment would not be made in US dollars, rather in some other asset more stable than the US dollar, as mentioned above.

    I’m not suggesting that cryptocurrencies could be used for general purpose purchases by the public. I do know that there are micro currencies or cryptocurrencies that are used to make fund transfers between banks. Perhaps such transfers might become more widely used in everyday purchases/payments by the general public?

    Any comments along these lines would be interesting.

    India and other countries are banning the use of larger denominated notes, comparable to US $50 and US $100 bills.

    I’m simply concerned about our loss of privacy and our loss of ability to respond to our government’s control of our money. If people in Cyprus suffered a “haircut” of 10%, what will prevent our government from “scraping us bald”, should they feel that they need to? What recourse would be ailable to us?

    Thank you for your thoughts. I highly respect your views on all matters concerning money.

    Sincerely,

    Ron Galaway

    • Keith says:

      Good afternoon, Ron and thanks for such a thoughtful note.

      Euro Pacific Bank, GolVerCard, Glint, and VeraCash all offer metals backed debit cards if memory serves. I’n not aware of a credit based offering, though.

      Your point on cash is well taken; I have to believe that there is a concerted effort to get rid of currency itself but am unsure what that would look like. The world is simply not ready for that (and neither are cryptocurrencies which have failed miserably as a crisis hedge in the current volatility).

      We’d have no recourse in a Cyprus-like situation but I think the government would extend an olive branch via long government bonds in one form or another.

      And, finally, I share your concerns on privacy but think that cat got out of the bag a long time ago.

      Best regards and thanks for being a part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  2. Frank Morgan says:

    It takes a thoughtful man (and wife) to take the safe and respectful to others self isolation that you two did. Takes a wise person to realize the benfits of doing so too! I hope you never sneeze until after 14 days! You and your wife seem to be “good people”. Thanks for even taking the time to “keep in touch” during such a time!

    • Keith says:

      Hi Frank and thanks for the vote of confidence as well as the kind words.

      Living in Asia part of the year with my bride and our boys as we have for nearly 30 years, gives me a different perspective. There the concern is about protecting the broader community whereas the West seems consumed by individual liberties. There are pros and cons to each but in this instance I think the reluctance to clamp down on individuals is going to work against us until this thing peaks.

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  3. Margaret Movick says:

    Kudos on your self-isolation. So far in Iowa we have no virus, but that could change. We are thinking ahead just in case. Living in a condo there is not a lot of outdoor time. Time to get things done inside. We do not have a lot of investing going on. Just watching what we do have and deciding to hold on for now, but still open to any good buys.

    • Keith says:

      Thank you, Margaret!

      It was a tough call and, ironically enough, the toughest resistance came from our local high school which unbelievably couldn’t grasp the significance of what we wanted to do pro-actively. That’s changing but they still think that closing for 24 hours and sterilizing the building AFTER a case is detected will be enough??!!

      Amazing lack of understanding as to the seriousness of what’s happening to my way of thinking.

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  4. Joanne Ryan says:

    I had no idea! hope you guys are doing ok!! This is your old friend from the Oxford Austria trip. My sister and I met you and your wife and have never forgotten you. No N95 or N100 masks here even though 3M is just up the road. Might that be another choice pick? People suddenly buying like mad at the grocery stores. But shelves are not bare. We are close to Mayo clinic so probably risk from international patients and from the level of care they provide. Still hoping and praying for less severe situation . Will be doing the same for you. JR

    • Keith says:

      Great to hear from you, Joanne. I trust all is well in your world. I recall our trip well and have fond memories, too.

      3M is an interesting choice but the markets don’t yet seem to recognize that save the fact that the company’s shares have fallen about half of the broader markets. No doubt in my mind it will be back – I’ll have more in the weeks ahead as I sort out the “buy list.”

      Take care and do stock up on the basics if you can. Once panic sets in – and it will – stuff may disappear quickly. Buying toilet paper in Japan, for instance, is hard to so and santizer is exceptionally hard to find as it is beginning to be here.

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  5. Okeke says:

    Mr Keith, you truly are an exemplary citizen taking the right steps and making the decision to self quarantine even when you weren’t prompted by the authorities to do so.
    As for me, I live close to an equatorial region which is typically very hot at this time of the year which is also a blessing since they say the virus doesn’t survive long when exposed to hot environments. I don’t go far from home on most days.

    I don’t really follow the stories in the news about cases of infections in my country. The last I heard was that an Italian brought the disease into my country. I think it’s still just this one case.

    • Keith says:

      Good afternoon, Okeke!

      Thank you for the kind words. We are doing our best to do the right thing. We have also heard that heat is a preventative and living warm right now sounds GREAT! Apparently Singapore and Hawaii are noting fewer cases with heat potentially being a protective measure; or, it simply hasn’t gotten there yet.

      Please stay safe.

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  6. Gary says:

    No great coronavirus fears in Milwaukee or in my travels all week in MN. Common sense needs to prevail and not getting caught up in all the over-hyped media. Hopefully overblown and as weather heats up this will be behind us in a few months. At 60 we are sitting in approx. 40% cash & bonds so IV not affecting us too much. Some stocks we are letting run knowing we / they can weather the storm and losses this year are only on paper – including AAPL, AWK, AXP, AEP, MO, Medpace, VWELX, AEE. Even SLB which has been hammered will recover when oil goes higher in months to come
    Thanks for all your timely advice in your monthly newsletter and weekly comments

    • Keith says:

      Hello Gary and thanks for writing.

      Sounds like you have a super plan on both fronts – living and investing. Way to go!!

      I’ll do my best to help everybody navigate through this and try my hardest to keep what’s happening in perspective. Hopefully, with a bunch of profits, too!

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  7. Thomas Keener says:

    Hi Keith,
    I do hope your quarantine finishes uneventfully.
    I am a retired educational administrator who is substituting for a local high school in North Carolina. There is a lot of concern and no good plans for what to do with the 50000 students in our county and the 60000 students in our next door district. Imagining the economic impact, as well as emotional and physical impact of even one or two deaths here in piedmont North Carolina, has caused me to reflect upon the larger national economic picture. As a new options trader, is now the time to be buying TLT calls or even Eurodollar futures contracts??
    Best wishes to y’all in WA!!
    Tom

    • Keith says:

      Thank you, Thomas. We do, too!

      So far so good … none of us has symptoms but we are being exceptionally careful.

      Tread lightly with options (and all other investments). I suggest practicing on paper and using current volatility as a learning experience rather than risking new money on trades you may not fully grok yet. The markets will always be there!

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  8. Scott Titus says:

    Keith, My wife lina has been in Wenzhoe since November and was due hone on Feb. 10th. Aprox. 100,000 people from her home town worked 400 miles away in Wuhan. Most had returned to Wenzhoe for the holiday and Wenzhoe became the most infected city outside Huibae (sp) province. Marshal law included 1000 yuan reward for turning suspected travelers. Today people who held off from reporting themselves and became sick are just now getting out of hospital and going straight to jail. When the travel restriction went in place Feb. 2nd. the resume date was set fro April 30th. Ouch. I think it will be June or July before I see her. I wonder if tickets will top $2000 by then, My take is by that time, China will be hesitant to accept US flights as we will be in the thick of it by then and the risk of a new wave of likely mutated strain could infect people that have survived the first strain. 1913 all over again. By the way, we met outside the bathroom at Mt. Baker a few years ago. I operate a wholesale nursery in Ferndale that took 100 percent of my attention for 30 years. I’m leasing it this year and skiing more. I recently downloaded think or swim from Ameritrade and am anxious to study a few more videos and online tutorials before i start actual trading. thinking about cashing out some gold to fund it. Investment ideas ? VIX, Refiners, Markets NYSE etc.
    Cheers,
    Scott Titus

    • Keith says:

      Hello Scott and thanks for sharing.

      My thoughts and prayers; you have a very deep and personal connection to what’s happening as do I having spent a lot of time in Mainland China. And, I recall meeting you very well – good on you for skiing more! Wish I was there, too.

      Practice, practice, practice – the TOS platform has a great paper trading capability and that’s definitely in order at a time when even people like me with nearly 40 years in this have to really dig deep to make sense of it all. Make sure all core financial needs are taken care of BEFORE you trade even a penny. The latest Money Map Report is out and that may have some ideas worthy of consideration, too.

      Best regards and thanks for being part of the Total Wealth Family, Keith 🙂

  9. Gilbert says:

    Thanks for the encouragement,and Advice !

  10. Dion Williams says:

    Hello Keith I am very new to the institution and is still trying to get off of the ground floor and land my first profit, the information is overwhelming at first you know hearing about all of my fellow members success without any of my own YET but that is ok because I firmly believe that my decision to join the institution will change my life. As far as the virus goes its shutting down my government job and my kids school and as bad as it is hurting our humanity I cant stay away from all the information I’m recieving from some amazing advisors and idols so even though I have no success or profit bragging stories to tell YET I want to thank you guys on behalf of creating a path to wealth for the underdogs that believes in taking risky opportunities that could be very beneficial. I will continue to study and practice the information available to me thanks to tom and Neil whom I’ve subscribed to so far and continue to invest in subscription whenever my funds are available because I believe in you guys and would hate to miss out…

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