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The Simple (and Lucrative) Way to Invest in China, Cannabis, and Electric Cars

By Motley Fool Staff – Updated Apr 15, 2019 at 12:25PM

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Get the details on the Motley Fool Global Partners Summit Member Event.

This March, a team of five Fools made the trek to Austin, Texas, for the Motley Fool Global Partners Summit Member Event. Chris Hill, Andy Cross, Emily Flippen, Bill Mann, and Jason Moser answered members' most pressing questions about trends and outliers in the market today. 

Analyst and advisor Andy Cross talked big-picture investing, submitting the idea that, although the U.S. economy has had its fair share of fluctuations in the past six months, opportunities for companies like Amazon (AMZN -0.59%), Starbucks, and Apple have the capacity to resist domestic challenges by expanding abroad.

And when members in the audience were gauged for a general attitude toward the market, the general attitude seemed more than a little optimistic. 

But what about emerging sectors, like the cannabis industry? And is there any making sense of China? Our Fools help to shed some light on investing in 2019.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on March 1, 2019.

Chris Hill: Let's start our first panel. I'd like to welcome to the stage, Jason Moser, Andy Cross, Emily Flippen and Bill Mann. Please come on up, and let's get to our first poll.

We'd like to get a sense of how you all are feeling about the market. So, which of the following statements best characterizes your feelings about the current stock market?

You can't stand to look.

Feeling a little bearish.

Feeling bullish.

Or are you one of those wonderful maniacs who's all in, no matter what?

Don't feel the peer pressure. Go ahead and vote the way you were going to vote. Don't let the fact that we're calculating this in real time affect how you actually feel about the market.

Where's the poll in the app? Andy says there's a resolution desk for that. You can tell that Andy and I are real technical wizards. Alright, why don't we close off and, I think we're all pretty pleased to see. For those who voted overwhelmingly, people feeling good about the market.

Before we get to questions from you all, I want to talk to the folks up here about, sort of, where we are in the market, sort of, get a sense of your headline. And, Andy, since you made the mistake of sitting closest to me, I'm going to go to you first. What is your headline for the market right now, when you look out at what's happening, and, certainly, this comes in the wake of a pretty memorable December for most investors.

Andy Cross: Yeah, I think that's a good point, Chris. When I think about the markets and I talked to some of you yesterday about this, the last ten years has been exceptional as Bill mentioned this in his opening remarks. Certainly, I am excited and bullish to invest over the next ten years. I don't think we can expect to see those kinds of returns again from the lows of 2008-2009. However, I think the investing in businesses that can generate exceptional long-term returns through businesses that have economic advantages remains the best way to be able to create wealth globally, and I think that Global Partners team is finding those pockets internationally with companies that exhibit those characteristics and, certainly in our services in the U.S. we do that as well, I believe. And it's certainly recognized in the last few years.

So, I think the returns are so out there, I do think volatility like what we saw in December and in Q4 of last year is back. That's not a surprise. Investors really have to understand their own temperament to be able to succeed as long-term investors and take those opportunities when they can deploy capital very quickly -maybe having some more cash on the sidelines, maybe being a little more optimistic.

So, long-term investment returns through equities is still the best way to generate wealth. I just think it will come with much more volatility over the next five, ten years.

Hill: Emily, what about you? What's your headline for the market?

Emily Flippen: I agree, and I'm actually going to challenge something Bill said when he was stating his opening remarks--saying the U.S. is an amazing market to invest in, and it's true. I'm not going to peddle to the U.S., but I will say that the U.S. is an amazing market. A lot of the companies that we see in the U.S. are international companies. They do business everywhere.

But here's what's exciting to me as an investor. When I look back over the past few decades, the U.S. was the place to be. But, now I'm looking, and I'm seeing population growth in the U.S. That would be declining if it weren't for immigration, and I wonder, are there better markets out there to deploy my capital in? And we haven't seen the returns in international markets like we've seen in the U.S. But I think over the next ten, twenty, thirty years, and being a long-term investor, I think I should really be doing more involvement in investing in international markets. Vanguard recently came out and stated that they decreased their U.S. equity predictions, their return for U.S. equities over the next ten years to about five percent. And a lot of that is attributable to the amazing bull run we've had over the past decade, so it's not really unexpected.

But to me, that makes me think, "There's so much opportunity out there that so many people are afraid to take simply because they're American, and they have a very home-set bias in their investments. So, for me, the biggest thing in the market right now is really looking at international growth opportunities.

Hill: Jason, I don't want to put any pressure on you, but I'm really hoping you're going to also disagree with something Bill said.

Jason Moser: I was not going to pile onto Bill. Actually, Bill said something I thought was really astute in that a lot of these international markets--they're just starting to develop. The reason why we maybe don't have them at the top of the list is because they're sometimes 10-15 years behind what we're doing here. I could certainly testify to that, and having had the opportunity to live in Cairo, Egypt for three years, Kazakhstan for another two--interesting places in their own right, but you would see consumer behavior.

I mean, everything they're doing, they're just kind of catching up. They're getting the things that we're getting. It's just later. And so you can certainly see the opportunities exist there; they're just a little bit behind what we're doing.

And to your point, we kind of just focus on what we know and keep inside our little box here. Most people, it doesn't seem, have that opportunity to travel or don't travel, so they don't realize what actually is going on in the big world out there.

Hill: One of the amazing things that Jason talks about that I love is the war on cash and the companies that are benefiting from people no longer carrying cash in their wallets, using many more different technologies for transactions. And if you think that that's happened quickly here, in places like Egypt and Kazakhstan and Kenya--they're literally skipping cash. They've gone from having their first step out of poverty in a lot of ways is carrying a device that is not cash that they use for transactions.

Moser: Yeah, they're lobbying it. They went literally from nothing but cash to trying to figure out a way to get rid of all their cash. When you're in Egypt and you have the piasters to go with the pound, I mean, the piaster is essentially their version of a penny, and it's paper money. So you can imagine how carrying around a thousand piasters a day doesn't really work out so well.

I have a proclivity to, I guess, be a little glass half empty most time. I'm really working on trying to be a glass half full, but we talked about the state of the market today and where we are as an economy, I can't help but feel that maybe we are are closer than further away to a recession. To me, the recession is irrelevant. It's a matter of when, really not if. But, we had a lot of conversations yesterday--people talking about the market's valuation, how much cash do you have. I thought about it. I really didn't have a pinpoint number I could give. I estimated it was around 20. I went through and calculated last night. It's more like 15 percent cash of my overall investment portfolio, but I think there are reasons to at least be a little bit concerned.

A couple things stand out to me. Obviously the student debt level is really at a crisis I think at this point. We're talking about 1.5 trillion dollars, 90 percent of which is essentially guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education. That money doesn't just disappear. We don't just write it off. This isn't "Seinfeld."

Hill: Wait, is this your glass half-full speech?

Moser: No, this is the glass half-empty. I was just trying to make sense of it all.

Cross: This is his 20 percent half-full.

Moser: I'm working on folks, please. I'm still invested. Glass half-full would be like 10 percent cash.

I read another interesting data point the other day that a record 7 million-plus Americans are at least 90 days delinquent on their auto loans. Now, as an overall percentage of borrowers, that's still a little bit lower than the peak during the great recession. But, I mean, it's also worth noting. We're talking about cars here, people, not houses. If you're having trouble affording a new car loan, I think they're making some problems there, and when you look at what FICO was doing to make people's credit scores better to give them the opportunity to have a better credit score, we have a really record pool of borrowers with better credit scores than ever. Obviously, we're in a very good employment situation, but it does seem like wages aren't quite keeping up, and when you have a young borrowing pool with a lot of student debt outstanding, at some point or another, you've got to pay the piper. I think those are things just to keep in mind, but for the rest of the event here today, I will be more glass half-full, I promise.

Hill: Well, one of the things that Jason said that I think is something that we should all be mindful of is that level of student debt in some ways to me is an enormous crisis in the United States for one very specific reason. One of the things, one of the reasons that we have the most dynamic economy in the world and the largest stock market in the world is that we have an entrepreneurial culture. What happens when you have so many students with so much student debt is that entrepreneurialism really becomes the product of the rich. If you come out of college and you have--some people have $250-300,000.00 in college debt now. I know this because I have one child in college, and I'm about to have another one, so I may join them.

Cross: In college, you may join them?

Hill: I may join them, yeah, I may learn how to read someday. All this to say, that when you have such a large percentage of very talented people who become debtors that they can't discharge, I think it's a really enormous risk for the U.S. economy.

Flippen: Well, here's the thing. We're sitting here at a global partners summit in a sense, and we're sitting here talking about developments in the U.S. economy? Is this just a testament to the people on the panel and audience that maybe this is a sign that we have all these concerns about the developments of the American economy. Does this make you less hesitant to continue to expand your international holdings because, sure, we have people who are guarantee to be under water on their car loans, an entire generation of Americans that are burdened by student debt which is going to hurt entrepreneurism. So, maybe what we do is look outside of the U.S. to return those same improvements that we've seen over the past 10 or 20 years.

I realize that I'm hitting everyone over the head with this pretty strong here, but for people who are so interested in global companies, and I would imagine that's the vast majority of people here in the audience, I mean, we're still so concerned about the American economy. We saw it in that poll, that, Chris, you started out with. Some people are very, very bearish, but that's not to say that there's not amazing opportunities if we just step a little outside our comfort zones.

Cross: Before Emily hits me over the head anymore, actually my biggest concern is China. I said this yesterday. When you talk about debt levels and what's happening in the China economy, and with their consumer base, and with a government that continues to get more and more authoritarian with China 2025, what they're trying to do with influencing directly more in the corporation and continuing to leverage up that economy, what we saw in January, to me that is the biggest concern to the global economy, including U.S. companies and how they react to China. So, for me, it's actually not the U.S. consumer. I appreciate the debt in the U.S., but, I think to Bill's point, the U.S. innovator, the entrepreneur, I believe even though we haven't seen nearly as many company formations over the years, I still believe in the American entrepreneur, and while China has an extremely demographic situation and continues to invest in technology, it's so much driven by the state, and that worries me over the time period, both the U.S. companies and the Chinese companies as well.

Flippen: Well, I'm going to take this opportunity to make a quick plug for Ben and my breakout session because we're going to talk a lot of what Andy just covered. But not delve into it too much but to say the Chinese economy, I mean, the mindset that backs the Chinese, the average Chinese person has, is a much longer mindset, I think, than an American has. America is such a consumer society, and China is really just barely dipping their toes into the water. So, for me, some of the trends that we're seeing don't concern me over the long term because, like you said, you're looking at a country that maybe is developing fifteen years behind the U.S., and to me it's not anything different than we saw developing here in the U.S., that maybe investors 15 years ago would have been concerned about in the U.S.

Cross: I think maybe we need to figure out a way to, in time, separate the concern about the American economy with the opportunities that exist globally. Because we could sit there and say, you know, we're talking about being between a rock and a hard place here, but to your point earlier, a lot of those great businesses that are domiciled here are really global businesses at this point. Whether it's Starbucks or Apple or Amazon, we're talking about companies that are all over the world making money everywhere. So, even though we're talking about domestic challenges here, those businesses are certainly a bit more immune to it because they're so well diversified and so global.

On the flip side of the coin, you have a company like Mercado Libra Brand and Bill's talked about this before, the emergence of the middle class on a global scale in Latin America, I think, is where one of the bigger opportunities to emerge, and I think that's why Mercado Libra has done so well for so long. Because there is a middle class emerging in Latin America, and that consumer is becoming more and more powerful over time. So you can kind of have your cake and eat it, too, in that regard. It's being able to separate the conversation from the domestic challenge and recognizing that some of these domestic companies are still very global in nature.

Hill: We're going to get to some specific stocks in just a moment. Again, questions are starting to come in on the app. Whether it's taking a poll or submitting questions for Emily's breakout, Bill's breakout, Jason's breakout later today, for this session today, simply just click on the events schedule, and then if you go into the individual session--that's how you're able to ask questions and answer the poll questions. Before we get some of the questions that are coming in, Andy, I'll just start with you. Let's talk specific stocks for a second. What is a stock that is not currently in the Motley Fool universe that is either on your watch list or something you find pretty intriguing right now?

Cross: Ironically, even though this is a global panel, the stock that I have been looking at and talking to one of our analysts, John Rot anti, about a little bit is almost all in the U.S. It's exclusively in the U.S. and that's O'Reilly Automotive. That's a $30 billion dollar auto parts retailer. In the U.S., we drive about 3.2 trillion miles per year across our roads, and the cars continue to get older and older. O'Reilly Automotive, through almost 5,300 stores in almost all the states in America, provide a service to the do-it-yourself car mechanic, essentially. Their record of growth is exceptional. They've been able to grow their same store sales more than 26 straight years. Their revenues, their basically comp stores grow 3-5 percent per year. Their sales grow at 6-10 percent. Their earnings per share grew more than 15 percent for a decade, and they just continue to reinvest in their stores and buy back lots of stock. At the very consistent stock, O'Reilly Automotive at $30 billion dollars they lever up their balance sheet at the right times, make little acquisitions. So, it's a non-global company, per se, that doesn't operate in the global, but it certainly has global supply chain issues because so much of the parts come from around the world. So, it's globally tied. It's just that all of its revenue is generated in the U.S. It's OROY, O'Reilly Automotive.

Flippen: Can I ask you a quick question?

Cross: No. I know nothing about--yes.

Flippen: I was having a great conversation, and I apologize in advance. I cannot remember for the life of me the name of the member who I was having this conversation with. We were talking last night about Amazon and the potential for Amazon to be moving into the auto parts distributing. If Amazon tomorrow were to get in that business, would that change your opinion about O'Reilly?

Cross: Probably more bullish. I could imagine the stock would get clobbered, probably 15 percent, and I think that's a good buying opportunity. We talked a little about this in retail.

Moser: That would have fit very well into our conversation yesterday.

Cross: I think O'Reilly has a really deep network that they continue to invest into and that actually gives them an advantage over the likes of other superior e-commerce businesses like Amazon. So, I think it would actually be a opportunity to buy the stock.

Hill: Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but don't you think it would be great if Amazon had a venture arm where they would short companies and then say, "Yeah, we're thinking about getting into your business."

Cross: The FCC may have something to say about that.

Hill: The whole [inaudible 00:17:55] seems great, and then they close their shorts and do something else.

Bill Mann: Amazon investment services.

Hill: There's going to be a breakout on Amazon investment services.

Cross: You're assuming they don't do that already, Bill.

Hill: Before the lawyers break in, Emily, what about you, what's the stock on your watch list?

Flippen: I realize this is going to be ironic after all I've been talking about and these international opportunities, and I'll have plenty of more stock ideas if you come to the breakout. The company that I'm interested in today--it's a U.S.-based company--it's name is Tenable. The ticker is TENB and I'm really excited. It's kind of an old company. It's been around for a couple of decades, but it's a new IPO, and they're doing a lot in the works of cyber security here in the U.S.

So, you look at a lot of these saas companies that seem to be doing it all, right? And one of the small parts of their businesses is kind of managing a company's cyber security. But cyber security is all Tenable does. They have numerous products from their original products called Nessus up to an enterprise version that they're now selling to organizations. They're much more in-depth and thorough in the work that they do in cyber security than virtually any of their other competitors.

A lot of competitors in the cyber security field, they're reactive. They're like, "Oh, a breach has occurred. This is what you need to do." They'll have professionals. They're called penetration testers. They come in maybe once a year, once a quarter. They look for vulnerabilities and they tell organizations, "This is what you need to do." Tenable doesn't do that. It's almost like having a drone that constantly monitors your organization and lets you know immediately when a breach has occurred. That's invaluable in the climate that we're seeing, especially in the United States. But, internationally today, companies are no longer able to stick their heads in the sand about their cyber security vulnerabilities. We, as consumers, demand privacy, demand security, and so it's a hard sell. It's a hard sell to people who don't have a Chief Information Security Officer, to say, "Hey, you need to spend the money for a service like Tenable's enterprise service." But companies that are aware, they love their product, they need their product and I just see such a big market there for Tenable.

Hill: Jason?

Moser: I, too am going with an American company. I apologize for nothing, alright? It's difficult to find a company that is not in our universe at this point. I feel like we have identified a lot of the great businesses out there. But there companies that exist and I'm sure a lot of you have heard me talk about Ameris Bancorp before. This is just a little small-cap Georgia bank. About a $2 million market cap.

Hill: The republic of Georgia, not a state of Georgia.

Moser: I discovered it back in 2011 as the FDIC was going through the country and trying to clean up the mess from the financial crisis. Ameris, thankfully, was a conservatively managed bank. They kept a good balance sheet. Their capital ratios were all healthy. So, the FDIC saw fit to use Ameris as a partner in rolling up a lot of these failed institutions with essentially a risk-free acquisition strategy. Ameris got all the deposits and all the assets and really none of the risk. So, it helped them build up the bank pretty quickly in a short period of time.

Fast-forward to today, and they've grown into a bank with about 15 or 16 billion dollars in assets. They just announced an acquisition of Fidelity Bank in Atlanta. It's giving them a lot of exposure to the commercial real estate market in Atlanta and Orlando, so they're becoming a very wide-reaching, southeastern regional bank. I was telling Joy and Neal out there, wherever you are--I was in Greenville recently, and went down to Spartanburg to speak at Wofford College (go, Terriers).

Won again last night Bill.

I saw an Ameris in downtown Greenville, and I just got a nice little warm and fuzzy. As a shareholder, I thought, "These guys are doing OK." This is a foolish company. I had an opportunity to interview the CEO of a company recently, Dennis Zender, on History Focus. I was maybe not surprised but very impressed about his focus on culture and the type of business they're looking to build where employees are proud to be; where they're happy to be. It sounded very familiar. I think we have a lot of those same qualities in Motley Fool. It goes to show that you can be a bank and still be doing good things. I think that what they've done over the course of time is proof that they can be a well-managed bank and grow, slowly, without trying to be greedy. He did make the point that during the financial crisis, they learned a lot, and a lot of the lessons that came from that was the value in being conservatively managed going into that firestorm. Just like a lot of us learned a lot from that period as well was investors.

It struck a cord, but it's a neat, little southeastern regional bank that's continuing to grow. At two billion dollars, I think it offers a pretty compelling growth story for an investor. The ticker is ABCB.

Hill: Bill?

Mann: Let's talk about our future robot overlords for a second. It's actually a foreign company. It's called Fanuc. It's based in Japan. The ticker in the U.S. is FANUY. They're one of the four main companies that make robotics for construction. They do auto manufacturing. When you hear about Elon Musk saying they're getting all of the atomization in the Tesla super factory, down to giga-factory. I'm sorry, I understated Elon Musk which you should never do.

Hill: I think I just saw a tweet about it.

Mann: You guys ever thought about Elon Musk basically has all the tools to be the perfect real-life super villain? He's got a tunneling company, flame throwers, like, he's perfect.

Hill: You're saying he's not already?

Mann: I'm saying that if it turned out that was actually what he was going for, he's nailed it.

So, Fanuc is a Japanese robotics company, and let's talk about their culture because it is bizarre. It is really something great in certain ways, really weird in others. About 20 years ago, the president of Fanuc got rid of everyone's email, got rid of all of their website. There's nothing connecting Fanuc Operations with the outside world. It's kind of like the North Korea of robot companies. And the reason why he did that, he said, "I believe in the next 20 years that we're going to find that the Chinese government is going to try and steal everything of value from anyone anywhere. And so I want everything done by fax. I want everything done by pen. All of our development is going to happen in a closed environment."

And that's what they've done. By the way, they're now the best operating of all of the robot companies, because their technology has not been stolen.

Is that my phone? My wife always calls at the worst times.

It is a wonderful, very well-run company and it's in an industry where they're basically four large participants. I happen to think it is the best and the cheapest of them. But it's an industry that really nobody else is going to be able to break into at this scale where they are.

One of the coolest things about Fanuc, let me just add, is a robot company, so they build robots, and they design robots to build the robots that they sell.

Hill: Let's get to some of the questions from the audience. Andy, what do you think will be the impact of electric vehicles on auto parts suppliers?

Cross: I think as cars get more and more complex and people either have to spend the money to have mechanics fix them or they more sophisticated and try to fix it themselves, I think as a market shifts, as cars age and then we shift over to more electric vehicles, I think there's still a do-it-yourself market that the likes of someone like O'Reilly's been doing this since 1957 will take advantage of us. It'll be very interesting as the car parts continue to get more and more sophisticated just looking at what's involved in the Tesla, and how we think about fixing some of those and keeping our companies up to date. So, it's probably a long-term challenge for O'Reilly, but I don't see it as something that would completely disrupt their business over time.

Hill: Jason, I think this one's for you. Can banks come back in this rate environment?

Moser: Did they ever really go anywhere?

Mann: Some of them did.

Moser: Some of them did. I think that's a good point. Right now, we're certainly seeing in this rate and environment, a lot of banks out there competing for those deposits, and essentially paying up for those deposits in the hope that the rate environment eventually comes back and they can make a little bit more money on those deposits. I do think at some point, rates have to inch back upward even just a smidge. But, with that said, banks definitely have made a living in this type of environment before and I think the market tends to reward banks that are well-run and they do have a track record of investing those deposits effectively. And at the end of the day, a bank to me is much like an insurance company. And insurance companies are doing what they can with that float. Banks are doing what they can with that deposit base.

So that is where size really does kind of matter. The bigger you can get that deposit base, the more you can do stuff with it. So generally speaking, yeah, I think they can still do it.

Cross: Programming note: if you don't know Q2 Software is a company Bill and I have followed for a while. We'll be talking to Matt Flake. He's the CEO of Q2's headquartered right here in Austin. We'll be talking with him later this afternoon so we can ask him some good questions about the banking industry.

Hill: Bill, I'm going to send this your way. Which global organizations or companies should we avoid? Keep in mind, we've talked many times before about emerging markets meaning opportunity. The last couple of months have been good, not just for the S&P 500 and the Dow, but the emerging markets as well.

Mann: Can I get away with just saying Venezuela and we can move on? I don't think people are wrong about Venezuela.

I think one of the things that people tend to do, and we'll talk about this later in my breakout, so I'll spoil some of this now, is that they think that because something has under-performed that there is some sort of natural law that forces it to come back. There are countries out there that really have no culture of actually taking care of shareholders. Maybe in the United States, we're a little bit too far in the other direction. If you look at what has happened, for example, in Italy over the last 30 years, they have destroyed capital, and you have to wonder what capital did to make Italy so mad at it. It's destroyed so much capital.

I would not get very excited about looking at a lot of countries that aren't achieved. I think that there's some natural law that they will come back.

Moser: Can I just pivot on that a little bit and something Emily mentioned when she talked about the Vanguard status. I think one thing we're talking about with international investing--the reason why I'm excited for the Global Partners' initiative is stock by stock. As far as I know, and we have no plans to do ETFs or index funds where you buy a big basket of ETFs that are skewed one way or the other toward the largest market industries. What we're doing is trying to find those investment opportunities, and the team did it this week with really finding some fun companies that are in different markets. And that's what we're doing. So, it's not just going in and buying a country that looks like it's low on a P-basis and buying some ETF that you will see from so many financial planners when they say, "Hey, get international exposure!"

It's just much different than what we're doing and I think it's much more fun, and it will end up being more lucrative as well.

Mann: That's a super-good point. People who I met with yesterday, a couple, asked me what one of my favorite companies in the world was. And I said, "You're not going to believe this, but it's a Russian bank." And it's not because I'm particularly excited about Russia, because I'm not, but it happens to be one of the best running banks in the world. It's called Severe Bank. On a company-by-company basis, you can find really good opportunities in places where you naturally would be disinclined to invest.

Hill: One last question before we wrap this up and I'll just throw this out for whoever wants to take it. What is your view on investing in the marijuana industry?

Flippen: I feel like I should probably be the first to speak on that. I do work on our marijuana portfolio. I'm relatively new to it, and I will have to say when I first heard that the Motley Fool was getting involved, I was very skeptical.

Mann: We're not in distribution or anything like that?

Flippen: No. Lightly involved investing some companies you may be involved.

Mann: Moving product.

Flippen: Exactly. I spent a lot of time looking at growth industries. I had written off the marijuana industry because it is full of, and I don't want to say fraud because I said this before, it's a real strong word, but I think it's full of ignorance. I think there are a lot of people running companies in the marijuana industry right now who have no business running companies. But, it's kind of the ultimate growth industry, and the Motley Fool has done a great job of not only training me, but training members to see the marijuana industry as a great play on a basket approach.

I think if you are are prudent investor, who can avoid a lot of the pitfalls that we see with people who may invest in marijuana stocks, it can be an exciting industry to get into. And I will just add in that this applies not only to the marijuana industry, but to all international companies as well. You can be right about an idea and wrong about the timing. So it's important to understand what's driving that business and what it's going to take to make that business succeed over the long term.

You might have a great idea, you might think a company, whether it's a marijuana space or international space, you might think it's a great company. But you need to identify the drivers that are going to make that a realizable investment for you and your portfolio before you jump in.

Mann: Tom Gardner loves playing a game, so I'm going to play it right now, and which is to make an opinion and make it a strongly held opinion, absent any evidence whatever. So, it's a fun, completely irresponsible game, and we're playing in front of you right now.

I think the company that's going to win in the marijuana industry is Phillip Morris. I think ultimately, I'm not kidding, I'm really not. They bought part of Jewel, and I think ultimately they're going to find the competent players in the marijuana industry and they're going to use the rivers of cash that they have, and they are going to start buying some of the best lots.

Cross: You can see the headlines on this from CNBC. Martha Stewart had some help on her CBBD deal with weed grower canopy: Snoop dog.

Moser: Well, they have some cooking show together, right? They've developed an interesting relationship.

Cross: Those are the headlines that long-term investors are finding day in and day out.

Mann: What a time to be alive!

Cross: So, you hit an important point there. We see this with all new market opportunities. I think crypto was similar. You see something totally new, and really to this point yet, fully unknown. People are still trying to figure out how crypto works. People are certainly trying to figure out what the opportunities in marijuana are. Especially given the fact that the legislative outlook here domestically is still extremely unclear. I mean, ultimately, it's all going in one direction, and we all know what direction that it. But you look to something like Canada, and you can see when the legislative environment becomes a bit more understandable, then what the opportunities that exist are, but when you see these new markets and they develop those types of headlines, people get really excited.

And so then they just start plowing money into it-left and right. Hand over fist. Can't put enough money into it. Good ideas and bad. It's just this big river of cash that goes into all of these companies. Good ones bad ones, in between, and that's the problem right now. You've got this mania where all of this money is going into this market regardless of whether it is a good idea or not. It's pushing the valuation on all of these businesses up. Some of these businesses are truly houses of cards. Some of them are OK. But to your point, in looking at these companies like Philip Morris, Constellation Brands, we know they've made investments there. Looking at some of those bigger companies that have the resources to place small bets early on to see how this might shake out, is probably the better way to start. And then to Emily's point, learning how the drivers of the industries, learning about the companies that are really leading the way and taking advantage and, actually, making money. You just have to be aware of the mania when you go in to markets like this.

Moser: Some of those businesses will undoubtedly go up in smoke.

Hill: Seems like a perfect time to wrap up and say good bye. Andy Cross, Emily Flippen, Jason Moser, Bill Mann.

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Amazon.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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