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"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.
Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm
There's no reason to think these runs will or even should end. Big media has tight control over what matters: Premium sports and entertainment content. These companies own, operate and/or control the top national cable networks ( ESPN, Fox, etc) and the most prolific regional outlets ( Fox Sports Networks, MSG, YES, etc.), and have rights locked up to coveted sports programming (NFL, NBA, MLB, regional attractions such as the New York Rangers). That means big-time advertising dollars and the extraction of exorbitant fees from cable and satellite companies now, and the ongoing construction of multinational empires that will dominate the long term. Nobody can or will change this. Not Netflix. Not the consumer. Anything can happen, but big media has to be the most airtight sector out there right now. AAPL gets all of the press. It's fun. I thrive off it as much as anybody, but that company and stock can also distract long-term investors from other opportunities they should be pursuing. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.