Invest Smartly in the Latest and 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When I was a boy, the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus would come to my hometown each year. Every time, the master of ceremonies welcomed us from the center ring with the words, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the greatest show on earth." I was spellbound!

Today's version of this "distraction" isn't found in Las Vegas or at an expensive theme park. It's going on for a limited time only in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Like the circus there are "three rings."

In the center ring is our "master of ceremonies," President Barack Obama. To his left is the House of Representatives and to his right the Senate. Together they form interlocking circles of death-defying feats.

Inside the three-ring "circus" - Latin for circle -- for investors are the government shut-down, the debt-ceiling crisis and the start of earnings season.

Using our powerful imagination, let's merge the three rings into one giant circle and what do investors have? Uncertainty! Uncertainty is the main ingredient in the caldron of market volatility and sinking investor sentiment.

As the politicians dance around this circle of uncertainty, I'm reminded of the words of the late, great American poet Robert Frost in his poem "The Secret Sits."

"We dance round in a ring and suppose; But the Secret sits in the middle and knows."

While most of us dance round the ring of fiscal confusion, there are those who know "the secret" and are biding their time. Whoever "they" are, I'll wager a guess that their "secret" is worth a fortune.

How to Make Profits from This Three Ring 'Circus'

First, realize that even though "the show must go on" we also know that "all good things must come to an end." Before you think I'm a Looney Tunes cartoon character, allow me to explain. Perhaps "the secret" is that the solution to Washington's three-ring dilemma is already scripted like a good TV drama or reality TV. This may mean there's more emotionally charged content to come.

At the moment we're coming off two huge up days for the U.S. stock market. This market surge may be nothing more than a "commercial break" during the airing of "The Greatest Show on Earth," and if it is there may be a lot of drama and scary "reality" over the next few days.

That'll set the stage for a correction that may include some lackluster earnings reports from stock market superstars like General Electric ( GE), Google ( GOOG) and Goldman Sachs ( GS).

Are you ready to "buy the dips" in these kinds of companies or the ETFs that represent the sectors each is a part of?

Between the political deadlock (or, call it "gridlock" if a temporary solution is announced before the markets open Monday morning), the debt-ceiling quandary and earnings reports from a whole host of big companies the week of Oct. 14, the opportunities should be multifaceted!

Although I avoid predicting how a "circus" will conclude, I'll venture a guess that if we had seen a D.C. deal over the weekend, (there's the trick) the market will continue its current 2-day uptrend and return to near all-time highs.

If that doesn't happen in the next few miracle minutes, I agree with one analyst who said, "Otherwise we'll probably fall back to 1,650, possibly further, depending on how rancorous the disagreement is." This is a win-win scenario for us.

Unless you're totally unexposed to the stock market, if it keeps skyrocketing higher, we'll see many of the stocks we own getting as high as a tight-rope walker underneath the big-top's ceiling.

Yet, if we're about to see that "fall back to 1,650," we'll have a chance to buy some great names we should have already owned such as Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), Intel ( INTC) and Pepsico ( PEP).

Johnson & Johnson and Intel step into the earnings "ring" on Tuesday; Johnson & Johnson before the market opens and Intel after it closes. Pepsico will "strut its stuff" on Wednesday before the market opens.

If you missed the chance to buy some Pepsico last Tuesday at $78.86 (9.4% below its 52-week high of $87.06) you may have another chance to do so and lock in a dividend yield-to-price of 2.88%. I'm not suggesting the share price may not fall farther than $78.86, but it's a good price level to begin accumulating.

Goldman Sachs upgraded Johnson & Johnson Friday from "sell" to "neutral" with a $95 price target, up from $87. This was based on an improved pharmaceutical business outlook. Tuesday's earnings report and the company's guidance will tell us more.

So it goes with the 3-ring spectacle that all investors are watching and somehow impacted by. Political and fiscal buffoonery is both entertaining and at time disheartening, but it's also opportunistic.

One of my colleagues reminded me that "Ultimately the government shutdown is very bullish for stocks, plain and simple. By lopping off a half percentage point or more from GDP growth, it will moderate any inflation in the pipeline -- and, unfortunately, aggravate unemployment.

"On the flip side, it'll allow the Fed to keep rates lower for longer. And easy money is something Wall Street can't get enough of."

So don't clown around with the current visitation of "The Greatest Show on Earth"... and by all means don't let it fool you. Like any good entertainment, it's packed with illusions and lots of surprises.

The emcee is standing on top of his platform. He's speaking secretively and wait ... even though what he's saying is barely audible... I think I can read his lips. "Buy the dips" he keeps on repeating, "Buy the dips". Perhaps "dips" are like cotton candy and popcorn at the circus, especially at the show's ending. The concessionaires put all their unsold goodies on sale.

Catch my drift, know what I mean, and are you ready to buy low?

By the way the emcee has changed and now he looks a lot like Ben Bernanke. He's got an understudy with him who is carrying a growing megaphone as she learns the lariat tricks of this exciting form of entertainment. It looks like protégé Janet Yellen will be doing a lot of "yelling" when she becomes emcee, (it goes with the job) and she may be perfect for this three-ring circus... and I bet she knows "the secret" too.

At the time of publication the author is long JNJ but is neither long nor short any other companies mentioned in this article.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Marc Courtenay is the founder and owner of Advanced Investor Technologies, LLC, as well as the publisher and editor of www.ChecktheMarkets.com.

Courtenay holds a Master's of Science degree in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, and is a former senior vice-president of Investments for two major brokerage firms. He's been a fiercely independent investment "investigator" and a consulting contributor to the investment publishing world for over 30 years. In addition to his role as an investment publisher and analyst, he serves as a marketing consultant to the investment media industries.

In his role as a financial editor, he specializes in unique investment strategies, overlooked stock investments, energy and resource companies, precious metals, emerging growth companies, the prudent use of option strategies,real estate related opportunities,wealth preservation, money-saving offers, risk management, tax issues, as well as "the psychology of investing". Because of his training and background in Clinical Counseling and Psychology, he enjoys writing about investor behavior, the ¿herd mentality, how to turn investment mistakes into investment breakthroughs and the stock market's behavioral trends and patterns.


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