A Bear in My Backyard

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I moved to our dream home on the 12th fairway of a golf course in our beloved East Tennessee. We're still meeting neighbors, one of whom reported the other evening that a black bear had recently been spotted ambling along our fairway.

Given my sentiments about the market (and because most of the neighbors don't yet know me) the bear might have been yours truly. I find it hard to understand how, with crude oil prices continuing to run like scalded dogs (or bears), the markets can keep from being boiled themselves.

Oh, sure, I'd consider buying a stock like Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB  ) , that terrific oilfield services giant, along with the deepwater drilling twins Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) and Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO  ) . Those companies happen to be in the right place at the right time, and they stand to benefit from catapulting crude.

At the same time, I believe that the relative cost gap between oil and natural gas on an energy-equivalent basis is likely to shrink, to the benefit of natural gas; for that reason, I'd be happy to own one of the best-managed companies anywhere, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) , or its Oklahoma City neighbor, Devon (NYSE: DVN  ) . And because natural resources in general are beginning to follow energy down the road to shortages, I'm also an admirer of big mining companies like BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP  ) and Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX  ) .

But beyond those and perhaps a few other selected sectors, I'm about to brace myself and await a general economic -- and market -- catastrophe. I’ve expected this for a couple of years, having watched energy and resources being blown sky-high. This phenomenon has already spread across a wide range of groups, including housing, autos, and consumer durables. Every time we pull up to the gasoline pump, consumer confidence gets hosed.

So there you have it, Fools -- my opinion on what I consider to be a very shaky set of economic prospects. I certainly don't recommend that you abandon the market, but I hope you'll tailor your investments to the world's changing spin.

For related Foolishness:

These days, Fool contributor David Lee Smith may be a genetic cross between Smokey the Bear and Chicken Little. He doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned, but does welcome your comments. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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