There is a secret concerning high foreclosure rates that investors have yet to grasp. It's all about turning lemons into lemonade, something American consumers do so well. Analysts project 1 in 33 homeowners will face foreclosure over the next two years. These foreclosures will free up an additional $4 billion a month in consumer spending. Maybe this wave of foreclosures isn't so bad after all. If you eliminate the average monthly house payment by the standard 6 month foreclosure process then you can count on a $40 billion foreclosure stimulus being added to the economy. Maybe we should stop fearing a consumer collapse and start looking at the numbers.
Annual core retail sales are up 10.2% over the last three months. This data shows that those consumers who are supposedly 'strapped' are willing to take off the chains. We live in an era where disposable income is king. Americans feel more urgency to pay down credit cards than to make payments on a home that is underwater. The fear of foreclosure is quickly replaced by the freedom of additional spending money. This newfound money will provide thousands of dollars a month to those consumers struggling to pay the extra $100 a month on gas. There are three things that you can always count on: death, taxes, and the resiliency of the American consumer.
Further analysis into the numbers shows us exactly what this generation is unwilling to sacrifice from their budgets. Technology. Times have changed. Necessities have evolved. Those, like CNBC's Joe Kernen, who feel that consumers won't spend on cell phones or computers because of high gasoline prices are completely wrong. Modern demands have transformed tech from a cyclical gadget industry into an essential survival tool for everyday life. People are willing to foreclose on their house rather than lose access to social networking, email, video conferencing, text messaging, internet surfing, etc... Modern consumers would eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner before they would get rid of their Blackberry or iPhone. The proof is in the fundamentals. The latest comes from Research in Motion's (RIMM) 100% revenue growth for the quarter! Amid a slowing economy tech earnings still shined with double digit growth in Q1 2008.
Jim Cramer wonders why tech goes up every time oil drops? Money has to flow somewhere and we are seeing that tech is next. Lets compare stock prices of tech's four horsemen in the current market low vs. March's low. On March 10th, Apple (AAPL) was at $119, today it's at $168. Google (GOOG) was at $413, now $528. RIMM was at $93, now $123. Amazon (AMZN) was at $63, now $76. When money exits the commodity market because of government regulations, it will relocate to high growth technology. Don't bet against the consumer, and don't bet against tech.
Disclosure: Long AAPL