NEW YORK (TheStreet) --
I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove/And old men with broken teeth stranded without love/Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?/"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"
Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm
So yeah, stock market indices are up. The S&P 500 even hit a five-year high Friday.
But things don't feel bullish. Although volatility and uncertainty are inherent in investing, there's something different in the air right now. It's as if investors across the board are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I think I know why.Jim Cramer hit some broad themes well this past week on his "Mad Money" television program on CNBC: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Lose the Gloom and Doom Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Next Week's Game Plan We kind of, sort of averted the fiscal cliff. Nothing really bad happened. Although it stinks, you certainly can't call the increase in the payroll tax that big of a deal, at least with respect to market impact. But we still have the political overhang of the cliff and the more immediate debt ceiling to deal with. This contributes to the nervousness. Based on what Cramer's observing on the earnings front, things actually look good despite rampant negativity that is accompanying rising stock prices. Because Apple (AAPL) garners so much attention, you can blame it for some of the negativity. We pay so much attention to AAPL that when it struggles -- especially amid all the recent hysteria -- it defines sentiment. It is the sentiment. Negative sentiment toward AAPL creates this overarching uneasiness. Cramer says to wait on a big name like AAPL until after it reports but to look at companies such as Honeywell (HON) ahead of earnings (it reports Friday). Along similar lines, yes, it's high time to stay away from the battlegrounds. Apple. Netflix (NFLX). Even Amazon.com (AMZN). Even if they go up, there's simply too much anxiety associated with owning these types of stocks, particularly if you're a long-term investor who seeks an above-average level of certainty in an uncertain world. Go for the companies that receive stamps of approval from the market. Yes, it's crazy that AAPL can't catch a break. It does not receive the benefit of the doubt that investors provide AMZN. But don't fight it. Since early last year, I have pounded big media names hard. Some of my favorites have simply crushed it over that period: Madison Square Garden (MSG) (up 65%), News Corp. (NWSA) (up 42%), Time Warner (TWX) and Disney (DIS) (each up 33%). All four outperformed AAPL (up 17%) with much less associated stress.
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