Binge-watching the stock market soap opera

Dim the lights

My first stock in my portfolio is getting Cheeto-tested: Under Armour (UA).

The headline, “How much damage will the Under Armour CEO’s Trump comments cause his company?” caught my eye last week. I thought, Gawd, what did he say? Do I own stock in a company with a CEO who is a cheeto-lover, immigrant-hater, and hearts Steve Bannon?! I have to sell the stock. My thinking was flawed, but I went there anyway.

As is my standard rule for the news, and money in general, I didn’t react. I didn’t even click on the headline to see the details. It’ll unfold as it will, and I’ll read about it 48 hours later. Better if 72. Besides, that stock has been a serious thorn in my side since I bought it in 2015. I have been ignoring its falling value for the last year, what difference will another couple days make? I end up waiting five days to review all the money drama.

Act I: Dude, what happened?

CEO, Kevin Plank, appeared on CNBC last week and he had glowing things to say about POTUS when asked about his participation in the Manufacturing Job Initiative. Cue the fighting words from some of their prized, sponsored athletes: Steph Curry, Missy Copeland, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Plank issued a press release after a day of backlash that seemed to semi-chill, at least, Steph Curry out. But not before Steph could slip in a quote calling POTUS an asset without the “et.” Ooooh, the notorious faithful Christian, just called POTUS a bad name.

To paraphrase Plank’s release, he said his comments came from a business perspective and that they are an inclusive company where diversity is a fundamental part of their business. UA was founded on and committed to diversity.

Act II: Real talk

{Black and white}

Let’s forget about UA’s bigger problems and let’s look at it in comparison to other brands that are cheeto-affiliated.

Since POTUS was elected, when he mentions a stock via Twitter, stock drama headlines ensue. There is even an app [insert eye roll and nope, not even gonna hyperlink to that] that sends out alerts when he tweets about a company. Lockheed Martin (LMT), General Motors (GM), Toyota (TM), Macy’s (M), and Nordstrom (JWM) have all been subject to the headline news roller coaster ride.

I reviewed the individual stocks to see where they were before the media attention, how they fared the 48 hours after, and how they are doing today. I also read New analysis proves [Cheetos’] tweets attacking companies are mostly just distractions.

I won’t bore you with the details as others have done a great job. The reality is that the price drops are a blip on the screen and the stock resumes pre-headline performance in every instance. Bloomberg also confirms [t]he stock market is starting to ignore [Cheeto’s] tweets.

Of course, UA is a bit different because POTUS’ Twitter account wasn’t involved, but its CEO certainly came out in support of him. While other brands are scrambling and protecting themselves (whether or not they are genuine about that) by speaking out against him, UA did the exact opposite. The jury is out on what this means for UA, but my guess is that the public will forget about this starting yesterday and the stock will resume its shoddy performance to-date. UA has other, bigger challenges to face.

In fact, this just in, Morgan Stanley says the worst is over for plunging Under Armour shares.

It took exactly one week for the headline to run its course. It took about three months for humans to catch up with the fact that that they just shouldn’t react to cheeto tweets.

My takeaways:

* Be level-headed;
* Read the news for the facts, not headlines
* Follow Steph Curry’s example. Pick up the phone and ask a lot of questions; and
* Buy stocks — that I like and know— when cheeto tweets about ‘em. Apparently, they are temporarily on sale.

{Shades of gray}

From an everyday vote perspective, it brings up a lot for me, namely how to build wealth using the stock market as a vehicle when sometimes I don’t *feel* good about the company in which I invest. When I tug on the string, it seems it all comes unraveled with every individual security I analyze. I struggle with where and how to draw the line. I imagine this to be true for others which make many want to throw in the towel and avoid it all together. I know for myself, I see hypocrisy everywhere so why bother? is where I often land. But alas, I’m not that person. I need to figure it out.

In moments like this, I find myself going back to the basics. I define my values. I define the world in which I want my nieces to grow up. Then I ask if how I’m spending and investing my money is in support of that vision.

I wish it were as easy as “you either make the cut, or you don’t” but there is always a rub, especially with publicly-owned companies.

Humans manage and work in companies. They have different values and political stances than mine. They are also imperfect. Shareholders are also humans. The market reflects the wants and loves of its investors. Just like how our government is a reflection of its voters. They are tough pills to swallow given where we stand today. Both, are a culmination and reflection of my fellow, imperfect humans, myself included. Therefore, there are endless contradictions, and sometimes the truth is going to sting.

For myself, using Under Armour as an example. The quote from his release stays with me.

“We engage in policy, not politics. We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore.”

I agree with all of those things.

I can see Plank’s stance that he made those comments purely from a business perspective. He can compartmentalize. As a shareholder, what I care about, is that he leads a company following the values on which it is founded. He is allowed to hold contradictory worldviews. Afterall, don’t we all?

My takeaways.

* Money is my everyday vote. It is also a paper energy, always being exchanged for good things and bad things, knowingly and unknowingly. This is the way of the world. I need to be responsible for myself and how I transfer that energy and remain as conscious as possible.
* As a shareholder, I am a willing, voluntary participant. UA’s CEO is a POTUS-supporter, at least from a business perspective. He also leads a company rooted in diversity and inclusion that he has publicly declared will stay as such. He also demonstrates that he gets why POTUS is controversial in this respect. Diversity and inclusion are high on my values list. I want more companies to state this, and while they may fall short at times, they are aspiring. They are, after all, made of humans.
* I need to encourage the companies I invest in to reach for the highest good. My money staying in a company says that. Part of inclusion is accepting the worldviews that are not mine. When I put my business hat on, I don’t agree that POTUS is best for our economy in the way that Plank believes. Just because I don’t agree, though, doesn’t make his opinion wrong. I also believe — perhaps naively — we need an army of conservatives who are not completely opposed to POTUS to bring some sense to the cheeto eaters. And Plank could be one of these guys. In short, it would be remiss of me to penalize him for expressing himself.
* I’ll still be keeping an eye on him to make sure he is acting on behalf of the company values.

As a UA shareholder, I am staying the course. I’m going to trust that my money energy is being used to facilitate the company’s greater vision. I’m going to trust the reasons why I invested in the first place, even if I have suffered a 50% loss in the last two years. I am, for better or worse, an optimist. And my portfolio is diversified if all else fails.

Moreover, in a world where compromise is increasingly difficult to come by, I believe this is a good place to start.