While swine flu is spreading and certainly has potential to become a very serious situation (as does any flu outbreak) if it continues, comparatively speaking, that isn’t the case at the moment.
Consider that the mortality rate of this flu is significantly lower than other outbreaks. For example, avian flu killed 61% of infected patients. The SARS death rate was 10%. And so far, swine flu has resulted in deaths of 7% of patients.
And then there’s “normal,” everyday flu, which causes the death of between 250,000 and 500,000 people around the world each year. Roughly 36,000 of those are Americans. And so far this year, approximately 12,000 Americans have already died from “normal” flu.
But the media machine doesn’t talk about that…
The media is doing what it usually does - over-hyping the issue and whipping everyone into a panic. Face masks and hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves. And it’s not just in America either. In Egypt, the government ordered the slaughter of ALL pigs in the country. How’s that for reactionary?
People are frightened of a 1918-type pandemic that killed between 20 million and 40 million people. But it’s important to realize that this was before the invention of a modern healthcare system and many medicines that now treat flu or ancillary infections.
In addition, some news was censored at the time, due to World War I. People didn’t have access to the necessary, simple information that they could have used to protect themselves and their communities.
About the only voice of reason has come from President Obama, who reminded us what our mothers have told us for years - wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Even if the swine flu outbreak becomes more serious, this is not an investing theme. “Five Stocks For The Swine Flu Pandemic” may be an attention-grabbing headline, but it’s not going to create real wealth.
That goes for a biotech company like Biocryst (Nasdaq: BCRX), which currently has an anti-flu therapy in clinical trials. It applies to Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD), which receives a royalty on Tamiflu. And it even goes for Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), which can’t restock masks and hand sanitizers fast enough.
No, to build real wealth, you need to follow the same sound investment principles as always, regardless of any highly publicized short-term events.
That means employing investment strategies like covered calls, LEAPS, and put-selling that will generate low-risk, high reward profits in a market-beating, crowd-beating way.
It also means owning a diversified portfolio of strong companies like Psychiatric Solutions (Nasdaq: PSYS).
Or companies like Calgon Carbon Corp (NYSE: CCC) and Robbins & Myers (NYSE: RBN). The stocks are up 35% in two months and 29% in one month, respectively.