Big ideas on gold and resources in the Big Easy

For nearly four decades, curious investors have made their way to the Big Easy for a taste of New Orleans and several helpings of advice and perspective at the New Orleans Investment Conference.

Coincidentally, President Barack Obama was in the city recently, speaking at the Louisiana port, which was the setting to showcase his focus on the nation’s economy.

Although the speakers and audience at the Investment Conference will likely have very different political opinions from President Obama, we can all agree with him when he said, “The first thing we should do is stop doing things that undermine our businesses and our economy.”

I, for one, would love to have him read my blog post on this subject that discusses how Texas is becoming the nation’s poster child of how companies, communities, and individuals flourish when allowed to operate under a more business-friendly atmosphere.

This is likely a contrarian view to the folks in the White House, but I think investors benefit from being contrarian and thinking differently. In preparation for my presentations in New Orleans as well as for the Metals & Minerals Investment Conference in San Francisco and the Mines and Money in London in a few weeks, I’ve been pulling together this kind of research that we can all put to use now.

One contrarian idea these days is investing in resources. This is an unloved and under-owned area of the market, but there is a case to be made for owning commodities.

Consider the low expectations that analysts have on earnings growth for cyclical industries. BCA Research looked at times when the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) new orders index were more than 60, and calculated the average earnings growth in the following 12 months. The chart shows the gap between past earnings performance and what analysts are anticipating in the next 12 months.

According to BCA, sectors including energy and materials stand out “as having overly bearish expectations compared with their historical performance patterns.”

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