The stock market's un-American bears

In the land of opportunity and innovation, GM, Tesla and Amazon deserve a break.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 23, 2012 12:11PM

By Rocco Pendola

 

Thanks to Herb Greenberg of CNBC  for relaying a story (via The Atlantic) that showcases former General Motors (GM) Chairman Bob Lutz, the man who conceived the electric Chevy Volt, slamming conservatives.

 

Lutz, a conservative himself, blasted "the political extreme right" for "distorting the facts of the Volt." For example, he notes that it was the Bush administration, not the Obama administration, that approved the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles. According to Lutz, they "trash an outstanding American product (the Volt) and do damage to American employment just to get at Obama."

 

I will not get into the merits of electric vehicles. Others more than ably fill that role. Instead, I will focus on Lutz's comments as they pertain to the stock market and its broader implications.

 

For the record, I am not sure if a direct connection exists between "trashing the Volt" and "damage to American employment." That said, Lutz's choice of words should not detract from the otherwise obvious and straightforward spirit of his argument.

 

It's one thing to be bearish about a company. I'm bearish about GM as well as Ford (F). But it's another thing to allow that bear case to spin out of control.

 

For example, political pettiness fuels a considerable chunk of the incessant Tesla Motors (TSLA) bearishness.

 

Dear politically motivated Volt and Tesla bears: From personal experience, here's a nickel's worth of free advice: Get over yourself.

 

There was a time when I hated America. I had moved to San Francisco, where I quickly transformed into what Fox News might label "extreme left wing." I've never had an issue with being liberal -- I still am, particularly on social issues -- but I do wish I had handled myself better politically in those days.

 

Simply put, I allowed myself to fit into a neat little box: I live in San Francisco and I am liberal, therefore these are the things I think. That's how half of the population carries itself in San Francisco and Berkeley. Think freely, but limit your thoughts and convictions to the stuff that fits a preconceived agenda.

 

Lutz proves you can step away from your party and ideology and do what you think is right. He deserves tremendous credit for this.

 

As Lutz argued, the Chevy Volt, if it succeeds, is good for America. Can conservatives really say with a straight face that the proliferation of electric vehicles will irreparably damage the country? If they believe this, they're delusional.

 

And beyond politics, Tesla bears consider the stock overvalued. The same goes for Amazon.com (AMZN). The most ardent bears fear that triple-digit P/E ratios will lead to the death of the nation, while undermining the purity they naively expect from the stock market.

 

I say that these bears are un-American. They hate freedom. And to top it off, they're not with us, they're against us (whoever "us" is). Plus, they jump on opinion bandwagons. They cannot think for themselves. They clearly didn't learn critical reasoning skills at their high schools.

 

How's that for a big Left Coast booyah?

 

But seriously, the things that make bears hate TSLA, AMZN and GM are good for America.

 

Tesla makes its cars in the San Francisco Bay Area. It exports them around the world. It builds EV components for other foreign car companies. Tesla does not run like an automaker; it looks and acts like a tech company. As it should. And it's innovation from companies like Tesla that gives America a fighting chance to compete with the rest of the world.

 

As Amazon continues to cut state sales-tax deals, it eases, albeit slightly, more than a few budget crunches and builds distribution centers in states across the country. In fact, Amazon could teach the government a thing or two about stimulating economies. Build infrastructure that creates jobs, focus on long-term prosperity and deliver returns that benefit the big picture.

 

Be bearish if you must. However, once that bearishness morphs into rooting for a company to fail, you need to get a grip and then get a life.

 

As far as being good for the country goes, there's nothing better than innovation and companies building products, delivering services and erecting infrastructure inside America's borders.

 

Don't allow politics to cloud your investing decisions or influence what you think is good for the country.

 

Stop using the price-to-earnings ratio as a measure of valuation. Stock market dinosaurs use the price-to-earnings for that purpose. Consider the metric a measure of confidence. Confidence that a business is not only growing rapidly, but forging ahead with viable plans to sustain that growth and capitalize on long-term opportunity.

 

As they sit on cash and issue misguided dividends and buybacks, too many growth companies lose sight of the one thing America is supposed to be about: opportunity.

 

More from TheStreet.com

1Comment
Aug 24, 2012 11:29AM
avatar

Rocco, I think you (and Lutz) may be confused regarding the arguments of conservatives in relation to the great potential rise of EVs.  Conservatives (such as myself) yearn for EVs to succeed.  We want energy independence for America using clean coal, drilling, fracking, solar, wind and however else we can achieve it.  But, the rub with conservatives is the government laying bets on companies to get there.  

 

I can't tell you how many times listening to Hannity, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh or The Factor that conservatives were not happy with the enormous amount of spending by the Bush Administration.  Conservative thought regarding the economy is that the market will weed out the failures and highlight the winners by consumer demand. 

 

With a government already in debt 16 Trillion dollars, we as American taxpayers have no business investing in start-up companies that have a 50% chance of failing.  Could you imagine as an individual borrowing 40% of what you spend and then turning around and loaning a company a huge amount of money based on nothing but hope?  Of course not. 

 

America is about opportunity, and that opportunity means risk.  Either there is a demand for the product or service you plan to provide or there isn't.  The government (regardless of political affiliation) should not give you money hoping to generate that demand, ESPECIALLY when there is no money to do that. 

 

For the record, I own stock in TSLA and Ford.  I hope when the economy heats up that both stocks climb high, but I do not advocate the taxpayers propping either up just so that it does. 

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