Why the Weather Won't Hold Back the Dow

Many have feared that the cold winter would hurt the U.S. economy, but we got news to the contrary this morning. Find out more about it here.

Mar 25, 2014 at 4:30PM

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) managed to do what they couldn't yesterday: hang on to early gains and post a solid advance on the day. In this case, the average gained almost 100 points. Even so, investors have adopted increasingly somber assessments of the Street's ability to keep climbing into its sixth year of the bull market. As earnings season looms, cold winter weather promises to be a drag on earnings for many companies, especially in the consumer goods sector. But this morning's news from the Conference Board makes it clear that at least in the eyes of ordinary Americans, weather should have only a fleeting impact on the overall economy. Many Dow stocks, including Home Depot (NYSE:HD), Disney (NYSE:DIS), and Nike (NYSE:NKE), should benefit accordingly.

What the Conference Board report said
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index measures what consumers believe about the state of the economy. It does so by combining two sets of opinions: one reflecting how consumers perceive current conditions in employment and the business world, and the other looking forward by six months to see what consumers expect with respect to their employment and income, as well as general business conditions. Because there are three questions related to future conditions and two questions on present conditions, the overall Consumer Confidence Index reflects a 60/40 split between the Conference Board's Expectations Index and its Present Situation Index.

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Forward expectations showed solid gains, with definite improvement in expectations about future business conditions. The labor market was also seen stabilizing, while more consumers anticipated that incomes would stay stable. By contrast, readings on current conditions were somewhat mixed, with gains in business conditions only partially offsetting weaker views on how difficult it is to get a job. In sum, consumers are looking forward to a better tomorrow.

What confidence means for the Dow
When consumers expect better conditions, they'll often spend in anticipation of them, and that could spell good news for the companies that are most likely to have taken hard hits in the first quarter. Home Depot is the most obvious example, as it suffered from a long winter that delayed most consumers' planning for the home improvement retailer's key spring season. As long as consumers expect better times ahead, though, sales should bounce back sharply in the second quarter, reawakening growth.

Although the seasonal factors work out somewhat differently, both Disney and Nike can expect to benefit from the rising consumer trend as well. Nike's stock crumbled even after a solid earnings report, but the earnings headwinds coming from negative currency impacts aren't affecting the fundamental growth story for the shoe and athletic-apparel retailer. Similarly, Disney stands to benefit from consumers having more disposable income to spend on theme parks, movies, and associated merchandise.

Hundreds of companies will inevitably bring up the weather in their first-quarter earnings reports in order to justify performance shortfalls. In the long run, though, companies won't be able to blame the weather if they can't thrive in an environment in which consumers are increasingly confident.

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Dan Caplinger owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot, Nike, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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