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Invictus

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

 

Twenty years ago, in June of 2004, I founded a company called Bebaas, Inc. in Newport Beach, California.  I had led the research behind the first-ever oral drug product capable of delivering a dose of vitamin B12 bioequivalent to that of intramuscular injections.  Additionally, the drug allowed for cobalamin (vitamin B12) to be utilized as either a scavenger or donor of other compounds, leaving the door open, so we thought, to virtually limitless drug discovery, so we started working on an internal product pipeline using the cobalamin delivery technology as a platform for applications in oncology, hematology, cardiology, cyanide toxicity and wound healing.


As the CEO, I raised capital, wrote two federal grants (that got funded), contracted with manufacturers, clinical research organizations, UC San Diego and even the University of Rio de Janeiro, and managed the regulatory process with FDA for our first Initial New Drug (IND) application. 


We did a lot of things right.  We made a lot of mistakes, too. 


I worked on Bebaas for ten years.  Over that time, we conducted a wide range of pre-clinical studies in oncology and wound-healing, in particular, but we only had one compound make it to the clinic.  Oral vitamin B12 would ultimately be the company’s only product. We licensed it, and I returned to the financial services industry.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Drug development is a difficult endeavor to say the least, and oncology and chronic wounds are notorious clinical landmines.  While Bebaas was not successful, I’m proud of the work we did there and grateful for the relationships that came from it.  We were doing hard things.


As many of you know, I'm a follower of commencement speeches in much the same way that Matthew McConaughey follows bumper stickers, and Roger Federer hit a homerun last week in his speech at Dartmouth.  20 years since I founded my first company-- it’s an anniversary that has caused me to introspect and to reflect on the whole of my last two decades of life, so I’m incredibly grateful to Mr. Federer for delivering these timely nuggets: 


“Effortless is a myth,” he said.  So, I work my ass off.


“When you’re playing a point, it is the most important thing in the world, but when it’s behind you, it’s behind you.”  Even champions lose a lot.


“Life is bigger than the court.”  The success of my children matters far more to me than any success Bebaas might have ever achieved.




 

20 years after the boldest career move of my life, I’m taking the time this week to celebrate the wins and take ownership of the failures.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

________________________________________________


According to Morgan Stanley, the percentage of stocks outperforming the S&P 500 has reached the lowest level on record.  A buddy of mine in Costa Rica, of all places, appears to have a pretty good handle on this as evidenced by this meme that he sent me over the weekend:



Nvidia (NVDA) accounts for 34% of the S&P’s 14% year-to-date gain, and five stocks have accounted for 60% of the S&P 500 total year-to-date return. Nvidia (NVDA), Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), and Meta Platforms (META) have collectively surged by 45% and now comprise 25% of the S&P 500 index.


The primary reason for this unprecedented outperformance is that these five companies posted Q1 earnings growth of 84% year over year while the average S&P 500 stock posted just 5%. Furthermore, strong results for the past four quarters have prompted analysts to raise their 2024 EPS forecasts by 38% for these five stocks. In contrast, the profit forecast for the other 495 stocks in the index have been reduced by 5%.


The six mega-caps in the S&P 500 with $1+ trillion market caps are up an average of ~12% in Q2 alone. In comparison, the remaining 494 stocks in the index are down an average of ~3% in Q2.


While I continue to participate tactically in this complete farce, I don’t expect the unwinding of this bubble to end well. The reality is that there’s really no way an “everything bubble” built on over a decade of 0% interest rates and trillions of dollars of worldwide “quantitative easing” can not implode.


We haven't seen a greater than 2.05% sell off since December of 2022; that’s the longest stretch without such a sell-off since the global financial crisis.  Our resulting counsel is to avoid chasing profits. These are times when it’s helpful to lean on your personal financial plan, understand what would be enough, and manage your assets accordingly. In our view, this market has more room to run, but we would tread a little more cautiously than at the beginning of the year.  


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 

Invictus, William Ernest Henley






Click here to invest with Chad.


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