This week, for the first time ever, Dan is featuring two guests on the show. Regular Investor Hour listeners should instantly recognize their names... Dr. David "Doc" Eifrig and Thomas Carroll.
Doc is an MBA, former Wall Street trader, published author, and medical doctor. (Plus, he even owns a winery.) In the Stansberry Research universe, he's the editor of Retirement Millionaire, Retirement Trader, Income Intelligence, Advanced Options, and the Health & Wealth Bulletin.
Tom was once named by Fortune magazine as the No. 1 health care analyst in the U.S. His research has been referenced by health care publications and institutional investors alike, along with CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. And Stansberry readers know him for his investment expertise in the emerging legal cannabis market.
In today's interview, Tom says health care is the most promising and important economic sector of the market right now...
Some people think it's a boring sector to invest in, but I think it's paramount for every investor – for anyone who takes a self-directed or a primary interest in how they're investing their money. They have to know and have some exposure to health care. It's a $4 trillion market that's only getting bigger. It goes up each and every year.
That's why he and Doc recently joined forces with John Engel – a former biochemist and one of Stansberry's resident biotechnology experts – to launch a new research product, Prosperity Investor.
In this monthly advisory, the powerhouse team shares the best of the current industry stalwarts, next-generation medicine, emerging digital-health solutions, and much more.
On the show, Doc and Tom also share some of the biggest trends in the space. You'll hear about advancements in telemedicine, breakthrough research in immunology, and navigating the complexities in managed care.
Lastly, you won't want to miss the duo's final bit of advice for listeners... a nugget that Dan – once he removed his jaw from the floor – called "one of the best, most actionable answers ever given in the history of the show."
Dr. David Eifrig
Editor, Stansberry Research
Dr. David "Doc" Eifrig is the editor of Retirement Millionaire, Health & Wealth Bulletin, Retirement Trader, Income Intelligence, and Advanced Options. And he has one of the most remarkable resumes of anyone we know in this industry...
Editor of Cannabis Capitalist
Thomas Carroll is one of the most respected and longest-serving health care analysts on Wall Street. Prior to joining Stansberry Research, Tom worked at Legg Mason and then Stifel Financial in Baltimore for nearly two decades as managing director and senior analyst of health care.
Dan Ferris: Hello, and welcome to the Stansberry Investor Hour. I'm your host, Dan Ferris. I'm also the editor of Extreme Value, published by Stansberry Research. This week, we'll talk to my friends and colleagues at Stansberry Research, David "Doc" Eifrig and Tom Carroll. They have a brand-new research product that I really want to learn more about, and I'm sure you'll want to learn more about it too.
In the mailbag this week, gold, gold, and more gold. Mostly people who are disappointed in its performance. Remember, you can call our listener feedback line at 800-381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. For my opening rant this week I'll talk about the definition of a recession. That and more, right now, on the Stansberry Investor Hour.
Well, why talk about the definition of a recession at all? Well, it's because it was in the news last week, wasn't it? We saw numerous people from our government... Janet Yellen, Treasury secretary... President Biden made reference to it... and folks like Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and another guy whose name escapes me right now. I should have it in front of me, shouldn't I? Some economic adviser or another. The message is they're all trying to gaslight you and say, "Well, two quarters of declining GDP, that's not necessarily the definition of a recession. We're not in a recession just because we've just had two quarters of declining real GDP."
I think they're gaslighting you. They're playing games. That's pure propaganda. Simple definitions are much more valuable than long, complex ones. The White House put out a blog post where they had one little paragraph at the start to say there's this definition of a recession that's two declining quarters of real GDP. Then they did four or five paragraphs out of the next six or seven or whatever. Most of this blog post was this complicated attempt to describe how they establish whether or not it's a recession – how the National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER, establishes a recession. It's a bunch of complicated gobbledygook.
We're in a recession. Now you can debate whether or not it's important to know that because it's a backward-looking indicator. We've just seen two declining quarters of GDP. We're in the next quarter now, that we've just learned this. So you can debate how useful it is. But you can see what the government is doing. They're trying to tell you that everything is OK. Joe Biden keeps saying, "No, this is part of the transformation to more steady growth," or whatever. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's Orwellian, in fact. "Love is hate, war is peace." In 1984, George Orwell's book, that's what the government said. "Love is hate, war is peace." Everything was backward. All the definitions were changed so that they could take control of your very mind... of the words that you use, the thoughts that you think.
That's all this is and it's ridiculous. Simple definitions are far superior. We need rules of thumb. We can't function with all this complicated gobbledygook. There's nothing wrong with being in a recession. It's not pleasant, but you have to say it when it occurs. So there is that. The investment implications are, "Gee, are we still going to be in a recession this quarter?" Well, I don't know. Who knows? But just compare it to your experience and to the experience of people you know. They tried to gaslight us about inflation too. "It's transitory. It's not that bad." Blah, blah, blah. Here it is, 9%, and they're saying, "Oh, it's not transitory." So, same thing.
When you think about that, you think, "Well, inflation. What do I want to do? Do I want to do what Dan says and hold gold? Do I want bitcoin? Do I want real estate? Do I want old economy, kind of industrial stocks? What do I want to do about this?" It's the same thing with recession, which is often viewed as the opposite of inflation. I think that's probably a mistake. It's often true, but it's not always true. You can have what people refer to as "stagflation"... stagnant or negative real growth with lots of inflation. Inflation is the thing that makes real growth negative. It would have been positive GDP growth if not for inflation.
So these things can exist simultaneously, and you need to know that they're there. When you turn on your TV and the government is trying to gaslight you into believing that the things you're seeing in front of you – like paying 30% more for food and rent and everything you buy – it can make you a little crazy. But you're not crazy. There is inflation. We did just print 9% CPI inflation, and we did just print negative 0.9% real GDP growth. So, you're saying the government is crazy... It's real. Then, of course, what you do about it...
We've discussed what to do about these things. Basically, I've been telling people for a couple years now: Just hold plenty of cash. Make sure you hold the stocks of really great businesses, especially the ones that earn nice, high returns on capital, because if a business is earning 5% on capital, 5% on equity, however you want to define it, and inflation is 9%, well, that's negative 4% for every dollar invested at that level. So that's not good. If a business is a really great thing, if it's a software company or something and it's earning 50% returns on capital and inflation is 10%, hey, 40% on capital is awesome. It's probably gushing free cash flow too, if it's a good software company.
You do want to own really great businesses that can keep earning returns through a recession or through inflation. You want to own – I think you do want to own gold and silver. I'll talk more about it in the mailbag. Whether or not you want to own bitcoin, I'm not even going to talk about it anymore. I told you I sold mine. It trades like a speculative asset and I'm not buying it back until I see some sign that it really can protect you from – that it can act like a store of value or inflation hedge or a currency. Right now, it can't do any of that because it trades like a biotech stock or a penny-mining-stock fraud or something. It's a little too crazy to be taken seriously.
I think I'm going to leave you right there. We are in inflation. We are in recession. Yes, they can happen together. No, don't listen to the government gaslighting you about them. Hold plenty of cash, gold and silver, and great businesses. Not much has changed. Despite the government's attempts to convince you otherwise, not much has changed. Let's now talk, not with one guest, but with two great guests, Doc Eifrig and Tom Carroll. Let's do it right now.
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Time for our interview. Today, we have two guests, David "Doc" Eifrig and Tom Carroll, my friends and colleagues here at Stansberry Research. Doc is an MBA, former Wall Street trader, published author, and medical doctor. He even owns a winery to fill his copious amounts of free time. In the Stansberry Research universe, he's the editor of Retirement Millionaire, Retirement Trader, Income Intelligence, Advanced Options, and the Health & Wealth Bulletin.
Tom Carroll was once named by Fortune magazine as the No. 1 health care analyst in the U.S. His research has been referenced by health care publications and institutional investors alike, along with CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. Stansberry readers know him for his investment expertise in the emerging legal cannabis market. Doc and Tom, welcome to the show.
Thomas Carroll: Hey, thanks, Dan. Thanks for having me. It's been a while since I've been on. I hope that's not because I did something bad the last time. So thanks for having me.
Dan Ferris: Not at all.
Dr. David Eifrig: Yeah. Same here. Appreciate it. I think it's probably been a year or so since I've been on as well.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. That's right. A lot has happened.
Dr. David Eifrig: So good to be here.
Dan Ferris: I want to focus primarily on the project that you guys are doing together, the Prosperity Investor, the new research product that you've got coming out. The first thing on my mind is what took you two so long to get together? Tom, what have you been here... a decade already or something? What took you two so long to get together and do this?
Dr. David Eifrig: Well, I can speak immediately to it because my one initial project, Retirement Millionaire, was a teeny, tiny version of this. It was meant to be Doc with his background on Wall Street, biotech, medicine. He can speak to folks, but more of a general, and I would say, a mix of personal finance and little health tips here and there in the back half of our letter. Nobody ever wanted to do this bigger thing, which would be really hard to do alone and in the newsletter business and advisory business it's been thought that unless your selling pills and potions that cure diabetes and erectile dysfunction and all this nonsense, something like what we're doing wouldn't work.
Of course, with this launch we've seen so far in the last week, it's been incredible... the reception from subscribers and new folks. So we're super excited. I know Tom can add to this, but when we brought Tom over – and folks, Tom Carroll is probably the sharpest guy I know in the health care space. He has a master's in health care finance from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 17 years as an analyst and managing director for a Wall Street firm called Legg Mason... Stifel Financial. That group almost has a trillion dollars of assets under management. He's won Wall Street Journal's Best on the Street award twice, Fortune's All-Star Analyst, so on and so forth.
I remember meeting you, Tom, and sitting there in that room and being so excited. I think I probably got you too excited then, and you thought this would have happened a long time ago because I know as this has – the success is more and more. I hear all these people going, "Oh, I knew this." I'm like, "No, no, Tom." Until we did this, everyone was saying it couldn't happen, it wouldn't happen. Then to add John Engel... and John comes at it from sort of the bench on up. He has a master's in science from Johns Hopkins. He has worked the biotech startups in pharmaceutical companies. He's an expert in fermentation kinetics and – folks know about my winery business – that's something that I'm super excited to pick his brain on that area as well. Not that we're going to do that in this product. Anyway, these two guys and myself, it was like, "All right. The time is right. We're all aging. The Baby Boomers are coming on into the last couple decades of their lives. What can we do? How can we invest? How can we help people increase their healthspan?" I've been babbling too long. Tom, what's your take on this? Why did it take us so long?
Thomas Carroll: Well, Doc, thank you for that very kind introduction. I really appreciate it. Health care has been my career passion since – actually since I was in high school, if you believe that. I grew up in a health care family. So talked about it at the dinner table almost every night.
Dr. David Eifrig: Love it.
Thomas Carroll: I guess I can't directly speak to the delay here at Stansberry Research other than along the way – Dan, I haven't been here 10 years. I've been here three years, although it feels quicker than that.
Dan Ferris: Really? Wow.
Thomas Carroll: Just a little over three years now. These things take time to percolate within our business. We spent a lot of time thinking about ideas and mulling them over and pitching. Every time I would pitch this to the powers that be, I'd go back and I'd sit and look at my presentation from the prior time and look it over and maybe tweak it here, tweak it there, update it for market conditions and go back to the group and talk about it again.
I think the market that we have today that likely started six months ago is just perfect for this kind of product, just given the defensibility of health care and how if we look back over time through recessions and market drawdowns, health care tends to either stay flat or go up a little bit. I think that health care is such a complex and – some people think it's boring sector to invest in. I think it's paramount for every investor or anyone who takes a self-directed or a primary interest in how they're investing their money. You have to know and have some exposure to health care. It's a $4 trillion market that is only getting bigger and goes up each and every year. I think because of that, it makes it just right for investment.
Dan Ferris: Well, certainly "boring" is probably a lot more exciting to a lot of people right now after seven to nine months of this. So OK. That brings us to this moment. You guys are getting together. You've created this new research product, which I notice that the word "health care" is not in the name of the product. It's just called the Prosperity Investor. What's in a name? I don't even know if you think it's worth talking about, but I just found that very curious.
Dr. David Eifrig: Tom, you want –
Thomas Carroll: Doc, you can handle that question.
Dr. David Eifrig: OK. All right. When we were thinking about that we wanted to capture, one of the names that was on the table that was close was going to be called "Stansberry Thrive." It was close to being the winning name, but when we thought about it we wanted to remind people that it wasn't just about thriving. It was about prosperity and wealth and investing in prosperity. Prosperity, for me, for us, encompasses both your wallet and also your health. So one of the legs of the three legs in this product is helping people get a handle on and understanding what else there is, what's happening when we see it happening, testing things, responding and reporting back to our subscribers about what stuff we see.
I've been wearing now an Oura Ring, doing sleep apps at night, a WHOOP watch... I've tried the Google watch, Fitbit, you name it... to give people an idea. If you're a person that likes to follow your sleep and your heart-rate variability and your oxygenation and you're working out once a day, this is the product for you. So the prosperity part of it relates to this idea that healthspan will be increasing within our life span. A 60-year-old is expected to live now to 82. So we want to make sure through investing in health care that it's happening right now.
There are people and products and things, both in the tech space. Everything just from how you're consuming medications, receiving them, reminders. We've seen telehealth come up. But the idea of prosperity, Dan, is really related to both making money in these investments as well as learning how to maximize your span of you being healthy. That's, to me, the most exciting place to be because I'm older. I'm very tail end of the Baby Boomer group. You can see it. You know it. Even though I'm a three-time marathoner, I know I ache after running a slow 5K. Well, what things can you do to reduce and minimize aches and pains? That will be discussed in this product.
More importantly, there are drugs. There are systems in place. Gosh, we've got a list of portfolio of seven stocks we think you can buy and hold that will manage a portfolio and are a hedge against inflation, a hedge against downturns. We back all this stuff up in our stories that we have shared to folks. To me, it's such an obvious place to be. Tom has been doing it, like he said, since he was in high school. I've been thinking about how you integrate everything into one thing.
So, some folks have called it the "health care singularity." Myself, being a physician, a medical researcher, MBA, all this, it's time. The time is right. So prosperity is just a way of trying to gather all that together into one word. Hopefully, people will – when they hear that it, will remind them of not only do you need to buy this stock, but you need to go out for a five-mile walk.
Dan Ferris: Got it. With prosperity, of course, comes greater wealth all around and greater investment in health care technology. When you start talking about it the way you do, I agree. It's an obvious place where everybody ought to have some capital. So let's talk about then what is great. There has to be – I can't believe between the two of you, if I just say there has to be, what, a handful, three, four, five huge trends right now that are directing large flows – where large flows of capital are moving into them and they have really great potential for investors. Am I correct? You got a handful of these for me?
Dr. David Eifrig: Yes. Yes. Tom, do you have any at the tip of your tongue if –
Thomas Carroll: I think the tip-of-the-tongue answer is some of the obvious stuff like telemedicine and telehealth. And the pandemic just accelerated a lot of technology that was already in existence at the time, two, three years ago, but the pandemic and confining all of us to our homes really, really laid bare the need for this type of technology during the last couple years. I put that into a larger bucket of what I call digital health care, which is basically leveraging technology to improve upon, make more efficient, create better outcomes of therapies and interventions that already exist.
The invention of the smartphone, this little, fantastic computer we can carry in our pockets, has done so much basically in the realm of health care that makes it more convenient for us and much more efficient in a lot of cases for the physician. If we're talking about something, we don't need to be two feet away from the person to diagnose or have an intervention on. I would point out, I started seeing this trend about 10 years ago... 10 or 12 years ago for whatever reason. Maybe it was technology had gotten to a point where it was easier to create these software solutions at the same time that the Affordable Care Act was written into law.
I think the big times in health care like the Affordable Care Act happening or the pandemic, they're "record scratch" moments in health care. If you're as old as me and Doc, you can remember what a record scratch sounds like when you bump the needle. It's jarring. So that's really when I started seeing all these companies come out of the woodwork. I was actually so excited myself and a lot of these came to me through my connections at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the School of Medicine at Hopkins. I started putting my own money to work investing in startup, innovative health care companies that were linking technology to some kind of intervention that's been happening forever. It's only accelerated.
The data – some of the investment dollars I've seen out of this chart – I'm thinking about now that from 2012 to 2022, something like $90 billion has gone into these small, innovative companies... many of which that were on the earlier part of that time frame are now coming out with series B, series C, IPO funding rounds and being much more available to the average investor out there. The other thing to note about that $90 billion... about half of it came just in the last three years.
So going back to my comment about record-scratch moments in health care, the pandemic in this case just absolutely explodes investment into health care. I like to say our health is our No. 1 asset that has to be managed like anything else. As a result, if you're going to manage your health you got to understand the system, the players, the rules of the game. The better that you do that, the better you will make your life and the quality of your life. Then at the same time, you got this $4 trillion industry that I think you could spend your entire investment career in, altogether, and outperform broader markets.
Dr. David Eifrig: Yeah. To your question, Dan, a couple things I'll see, I can touch on the financial "what's happening," and I can touch on a couple really exciting science things just in the last 48 hours that I've come across. VC investing in health care hit a record $28 billion in 2019. A year later, it went from $28 billion to $44 billion. And then in the next year, it went to $80 billion. This is exploding. When you actually look at some of the large pharmas, there's a handful of them. Large pharma, large drugmakers have enough cash on hand to buy all of small- and mid-cap biotech today.
That doesn't mean they're all going to get bought out, but it means as a tech proves itself and shows practical proof and gets approved, this stuff is going to be worth billions of dollars. An example of this is let's say you've got cancer and your immune system is a little bit altered and you come in with a fever, you're a little bit delirious. The doctor wants to know what to do and most cases, a cancer doc immediately puts you on broad-spectrum antibiotics, antifungals, and things that – let's just say you don't want to have that happen to you more than three times because your body just can't take getting hit with that much drug and chemicals.
So what you have to do is you swab their throats, take blood cultures – and those things take days to grow out and then when they grow out, they'll say, "Yep. This person has this bug and this particular antibiotic or antifungal works against it." Meanwhile, in those three days where you're on this broad spectrum not getting exactly what you should be getting for that particular disease that's overtaken your immune system, you can die.
Well, because the genome, which used to cost a million dollars to screen and identify, you can now get a whole human genome, all of your DNA for $150. You can get all of your DNA – $150. It used to be $1 million 20 years ago. So what's Doc talking about? Well, it turns out you can send that swab off down the street to a company that will now match up the RNA that's existing on that swab with known bacteria, known fungus... literally using computing power and, within minutes, determine what the bug is.
So instead of you waiting for three days in which case half of you are going to die, you – within hours of feeling crappy, going through the ER door, and you've got cancer, so you're weak already – boom, you know which drug. You know what to do, what to fight it, how to fight it within hours, if not minutes. That's incredible. That's game-changing technology. I literally just didn't even know that existed, 48 hours ago. I could imagine in my brain someone doing it, but lo and behold, it's practically being applied.
There's a company in the northwest that does that and a university out there that has some of the IP on that. These are the kind of things that are happening left and right. In the land of leukemia, there are certain genetic profiles... even in lung cancers now, where drugs have been made targeted specifically to that genetic profile of that person. So, give that drug to somebody else with the same disease but not the genetic profile, the drug doesn't work. Give it to someone with that genetic profile, they're cured. Five years later, they're cured. This is happening in colon cancers, rectal cancers, lung cancers, head and neck cancers. This stuff is right here, right now, curing diseases that killed people 10 years ago.
So that's what I'm super excited about. There's lots of money waiting to buy these smaller businesses and there's just the technology. Once it gets cheap to do the genetic stuff, now you can combine that with the power of computing. I'm just super excited. It'll bring in algorithms into it so you won't be having to trust a tired doctor on call what to give or what to do or mistakes won't – all that's going to be integrated. They'll know. They'll have your health records. Those will travel with you in space and time. There's no waiting to hear what the history is. I don't know. I'm so excited for both, I think, living longer and healthier, but also being able to keep my older friends around longer as well. That's the fun in this.
Thomas Carroll: Doc, if I could add a "rubber meets the road" comment to what you're talking about... because I think you're spot on. CMS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the big government agency that operates both of those big government health care programs has recently created a reimbursement code... so a code that doctors can use for what's called remote patient monitoring, or RPM codes. Those codes started two or three years ago, but they've evolved tremendously in the last three years.
So what is the real point of that? Well, the real point of that is doctors and other providers are now going to actually be able to get paid to adopt some of this stuff we're talking about. So that's a big incentive for getting this technology out into the world, into the marketplace, into homes and to hospitals, into skilled nursing facilities. It's great to have the technology, but if large payers aren't going to support it financially, it's tough to get traction. CMS has got it out there already and I think you're just going to see more and more of these types of reimbursement mechanisms that are getting approved by big government payers.
Dr. David Eifrig: Yep. Love it.
Dan Ferris: That's very cool. So I heard telehealth and wider digital health and then I heard a huge opportunity for Big Pharma to buy potentially a whole bunch of little biotech-type companies developing all kinds of new technology using, with what, the ability to track the human genome at the center of it, Doc? Did I get that right?
Dr. David Eifrig: Yeah. Just being able to know if I put your DNA into a dish along with the bug that is attacking you and then I sequence that, I'll be able to tell what bug it is quicker than having to grow it out. Then I can match that up to a library of known pathogens but do it in seconds. That's just – that's right there. Are you a 23andMe guy, Dan? Did you ever –
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Dr. David Eifrig: So yeah. It's very cool stuff. You look at it and say, OK, you might have from a parent a single mutation that might lead to a certain phenotype and we're discovering things like well, if you have that and you eat – I'm making this up – let's say eat a certain food that's high in one of those missed enzymes or in that pathway, you bypass it with potentially drugs, potentially foods, potentially kinds of exercises, the speed, the pace, the length, things like exercise all change your genetics.
It's just so cool because no one would have thought really, thalidomide, that it was even possible for one generation to affect two or three generations later by altering epigenetics. We now know that you can affect epigenetics just by going and walking five days a week. That turns off and turns on genes that help you process everything from your cholesterols to other fats to even chemicals that relate to your mood and your overall gestalt of life's existence.
Super exciting because it's based off of science. It's based off of numbers and you can now connect that up by having both a broad, cheap genetic profiles for folks. And then I don't know how much you participate in 23andMe, but you can also tell them stories and stuff about – you can start tracking things like your food and your activity... It's coming. It's coming where it'll be Star Trek. There will be a tricorder and they'll scan you. You'll scan yourself with your iPhone or your Samsung and it'll say, "Don't walk very fast today. Make sure you're in bed by 9:45 because the sun sets at 9:30, and oh, by the way, tomorrow you only need one cup of green tea... don't drink coffee." It'll be all based on science and we'll feel better, truly feel better. That's exciting.
Thomas Carroll: Yeah. The one word I'm thinking about after listening to Doc talk about all this cool stuff is immunology... basically using your own body's immune system to create medicines that target disease specific to you – so-called precision medicine or personalized medicine. It makes me think about – some of your listeners probably saw this headline about a month ago – there was a small study looking at colorectal cancer where they used a targeted therapy like this. It was a small study, 18 participants, but all 18 participants went into remission. That's just amazing.
Dr. David Eifrig: Unheard of.
Thomas Carroll: You never have 100% results like that. That's just jaw-dropping. That's right where we are today. This stuff is happening. If I can mention a book that, if your readers are into this and want to dive into it a little more, very easy to read, it's called Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl. Fantastic story... book about all the stuff that's happening out there right now and really lays out over the next 10 years. Ten years is not a huge period of time. All the advances that we really believe are going to take place over the next decade are going to be absolutely phenomenal.
Dan Ferris: Very cool. I feel like we've been focused on nitty-gritty up-and-coming technologies and things, but what about, when I think health care, I think of a lot of different areas. What about just very broadly health care real estate plays and managed care services? Is that at all attractive to either one of you right now?
Dr. David Eifrig: Tom can jump in on this. He's all over this stuff. I'm amazed each time I hear him talk about it.
Thomas Carroll: I was going to say... thanks, Doc. Let me jump in on that. All of that stuff, the infrastructure of the health care system, everything from doctors' offices and medical office buildings and hospitals to insurance companies and payment platforms and networks and doctors... everything out there. Again, I think investors along the way are either spooked by not understanding how those things interact and work or spooked by it because – or just plainly uninterested because "It's health care and boring and I don't want to think about that right now – I'd rather think about gadgets and wristband kind of things."
One of the examples I use and I try to get an "aha moment" reaction from folks when I talk about health insurance. Not exactly a sexy topic, but from an investment perspective, think about what health insurance is. It's effectively paying for health care for people over time and supporting the increases in those payments over time and trying to wrap in as many efficiencies as possible. So the example I use is if you look at a 50-year period in the United States, look at health expenditures, health care has grown over the last 50 years about 10% per year, which I find just amazing in and of itself.
How can an industry drive 10% increases every year for 50 years? It's unsustainable. Well, it just keeps sustaining itself. Wouldn't it be great if you could invest in that? There's not much more of a sure thing in this country than health care costs going up. Investing in a health insurance company essentially invests in that annuity because if you're a health insurance company and you're expecting your costs next year to go up 7% or 8%, well then you've got to raise your premiums by 8% or 9%. So these companies have this built-in price increaser that happens each and every year for years and years and years.
I'm sure you have listeners that own small businesses. I ask the question when I have talks about this, "Who's a small business owner? Wouldn't it be great if you could raise your price every year for 10 years and your customers would have to pay it?" It's a fantastic little understanding that most people have no understanding of, as it relates to health insurance companies. Over the last 20, 30 years, they've been phenomenal investments. As long as there's not going to be any change in the way U.S. health care is financed, which I don't see anytime soon, this mechanism is just going to continue to exist and investors will be able to take advantage of this over the long term.
So understanding that – the nuts and bolts in the infrastructure and all the pieces – it is very important for investing. Dan, here's the thing. It's also important for just managing your health care and your No. 1 asset if you better understand, for example, where the medical dollar goes, as I call it. How much is spent on hospitals? How much is spent on doctors? How much is really spent on prescription drugs? You have much better context in order to be a better consumer yourself. And we're all customers.
Dan Ferris: This of course reminds me of Peter Lynch who always said if you want to buy your own stocks, great... go shopping, go to the grocery store. What are you buying? Why do you buy it? What is everyone else buying? There's a lot of that in what you guys are saying.
Thomas Carroll: I've used that exact Peter Lynch example a number of times. That's spot on.
Dan Ferris: So up to this point, we're teaching the listener how to fish, and I know you've got this new research product, Prosperity Investor. You've made some new stock picks in there. I understand that they're for paying subscribers, so if you don't want to indulge me, I get it. But I have to ask if there's one or two that you wouldn't mind letting our listeners in on?
Dr. David Eifrig: Oh, boy. Dan, I don't like to do that because of the paid subscribers, but I can give you an example – but people, don't go out and do this. If my sister was calling me up and say, "Hey, I'm too cheap to pay for your letter and I don't want you to give it to me for free. What could I do to play in the biotech space?" You have to understand in our letter we're doing two different things where – well, really three things – one of the legs of the stool is this group of stocks that – we're calling seven of them "buy and hold forever" and then we're doing three stocks that we think have the potential for hundreds, if not 1,000% gains.
You don't want to put your rent money in just the three. You'd want to have it balanced across this. One of the things that, when we meet and talk about it, I'm going to pitch this as an idea to the group... The XBI ETF, and this is the biotech ETF, it's down – it's where it was five years ago. And I'm telling you, what's happened to biotech in the past five years... there's just no way this thing is worth the same as it was five years ago. Companies in there are all companies that I look at and am watching and contemplating getting involved with.
So that's something... If you were interested in this, I would say subscribe to our letter. Something that is down and looks interesting to me is that the XBI ETF. Again, I feel bad if someone goes and says, "You told me to buy the ETF XBI," and I'm telling you right now, I'm not telling you to buy it. I'm just saying go look at it, because it's something I would tell my sister "Look at the stocks in there." These are the kinds of stocks where all of this stuff we're talking about is happening. And then do your own research, read about it, learn about it, go meet people at the company, go get your MD degree, get your master's in health care from Johns Hopkins. Oh, wait, we've got two guys on the – wait, all of us. Never mind.
Dan Ferris: Already did that. So it's a good observation. Basically, this thing has gone sideways. XBI has gone sideways for five years. It's 2017 prices with 2022 values and levels of innovation and technology.
Dr. David Eifrig: Technology, yeah.
Dan Ferris: That's cool. Very cool. It sounded like Tom was going to chime in there.
Thomas Carroll: I was, in the same vein as what Doc mentioned. Part of this letter is looking at the boring, tried-and-true infrastructure parts of health care. It's looking at the new, innovative genetic engineering stuff. Another bucket of where we're looking is a sector or subsector of health care that I call emerging/controversial therapy... things like psychedelics to treat drug-resistant depression and cannabis to treat all kinds of things, as well as being a recreational substance.
So in ETF, there's one ETF in the cannabis space that I think is the only one you should own. The ticker is MSOS. It's AdvisorShares Pure U.S. Cannabis ETF. It's an ETF that invests in all the U.S.-based cannabis companies and, quite frankly, they're the ones you want to own. With this one ticker, you can buy all of them at once. Just like the biotech ETF that Doc mentioned, cannabis stocks have been absolutely pummeled in the last 12 months. So it is near 52-week lows as well.
Dan Ferris: Great. So yeah, we got two good ideas. I understand they're not ideas that you're recommending in the Prosperity Investor research product, but they are the kind of things that you're looking at and it sounds like you both agree they make really good lists of stuff for further research. So that's a very valuable and it's a great way to use ETFs too. I'll do that sometimes, just tell people to look at the stocks inside an ETF to get an idea. So that's good.
I appreciate you're not wanting to give away the paid-subscriber picks. Very cool. So we've talked about technology, some pretty nitty-gritty cool stuff. Like Doc said, it sounds like Star Trek and the more infrastructure-related plays that Tom was talking about. I can't believe that's it. Are we missing one that's really important?
Dr. David Eifrig: Dan, it sounds like you think you've got one on us. You have one you want to share or is there something you –
Dan Ferris: No, no. Well, I am cheating a little bit. I'm looking at your portfolio in Prosperity Investor and there's a lot of different stuff in there. You just come at this thing from so many angles. It's like cannabis and Big Pharma... medical devices... traditional medical devices. We haven't talked about that any. Is there – am I going to hook a Star Trek device up to my body real soon? Am I going to become one of the Borg?
Dr. David Eifrig: Yeah. If we were on camera, you would see that I'm sitting here, I've got an Oura Ring on. I've got a Fitbit. I'm wearing a WHOOP. I've got my iPhone watch and at bedtime, I use an iPhone and a Samsung, and I'm doing sleep monitoring. The other thing I have is, it's made by a company – I'm not going to reveal the name – but it's literally a home sleep-apnea tester. It's a large watch you put on your wrist. It's a little funky. It's a onetime use. You put one of your fingers in this thing and you go to sleep. It's been approved by the FDA as a medical device and it is as good as, if not better, than going and get hooked up with – I don't know if anyone's had a sleep studying. I'm imagining a lot of our listeners have. These things taped, glued onto your scalp, underneath your hair... you're sleeping – if you're sleeping – at a sleep lab, you're doing it without your normal pillows, without your normal blankets, without your normal noises. This is super accurate because you just do it at the comfort of your home, and then it tells you what to do. You can do this and use it to modify settings on your CPAP machine if you have one of those. This stuff is happening right now and we know that most people won't even think about doing sleep studies until they're sleeping in a separate bed, their spouse is kicking them out, they're snoring all night, tired all day long, they wake up with bad headaches.
This is something you can do at age 55 and 60 and get a baseline. It's only a few hundred dollars and there are a couple of physicians now around the U.S. that will do it from a distance. Our guy down in Scottsdale, Dr. Dedhia, he'll do this concierge medicine from a distance and send you this thing in the mail and help you get labs and all this. This is happening, man. It's right now in the comfort of your home. Most people take care – if they have a nice car, they take care of it and take it in and tune it up. This technology is allowing us to do that right in the comfort of your home.
I'll just give you another example. The other day, my WHOOP told me that "Hey, listen, you were behind on your sleep the last couple nights. You really ought to get to bed not at 11:15," but it was telling me 9:28. I was going like, "What are you talking about?" I said, "You know what? Let me try it." The other apps on my phone don't know that this told me that I'm going to bed at 9:28. So I turn those on when I turn them on. Both of these sleep apps, when I got up the next morning, told me I had perfect 100 scores and I felt like a million bucks. This is from some silly watch telling me when to go to bed. Obviously, I'm an adult. I can do whatever I want to do. I can stay up. I could have desserts.
Another example of technology... I was out dining with some physicians and he, because of some stuff going on in his life, he's got a glucose monitor. He's got some steroids on board for a problem he's facing. This thing tells him – literally he can look on the app on his phone, find out his blood-sugar level and determine, after eating the meal that he's eating, whether or not he can have dessert and how good is his exercise program doing relative to his blood sugars. That's happening right now. It exists. It's working. It's here, Dan. It's not just a Star Trek. It's here.
Dan Ferris: Very cool. So let's talk specifically before we go about the Prosperity Investor product. You can find out about it by going to RetirementWarning2022.com. I have to ask. What the heck is the warning? Are you warning people that if they don't invest in health care, they're missing out on something or is there something more sinister that you're warning them about?
Dr. David Eifrig: I think you're throwing away your life if you don't pay attention to the health side of it, which we'll be sharing and talking about. It's something that I've done in a smaller way in Retirement Millionaire. So that's an added plus and bonus. Then you've got this team... There's no way you can match a team like this. We're hitting it from – Tom, who can look at everything from companies that are managing Medicare and Medicaid to picks and shovels to, you alluded to it already, devices, all this stuff. Tom has been looking at this, eating, sleeping it for 40 years. Then Engel comes from the science side of it. Ergo, I feel like he's the best duck-hunting dog there is.
It's like you go out and you say, "Go get it," and John comes back with four ducks and the ducks have been filleted and they've been cooked in the oven perfectly with lemon or cherry or whatever it is. You're just like, "Wow." He dives down into this stuff. You've seen him on some of the other pubs that he's been a part of. He knows the science and then I'd like to imagine that I have a brain to follow this stuff as well. I love the science. So it's fascinating and the warning is "Don't miss out." It's like don't – I don't know. Tom, do you have any thought on the warning idea?
Thomas Carroll: No. I agree that it's – to me the warning is "Look, you need to focus on health care if you're going to be an investor, if you plan on living a healthy life, if you plan on supporting and being with your family." That's always been true, but I think it's even more true right now given where we are with the confluence of technology, with what we know from a physiological and a biological perspective. The pandemic really – I hate to give it credit for something, but it really accelerated and catalyzed our need to do more, to manage our No. 1 asset, our health care, and at the same time, along the way, become better consumers and become better investors.
There's this whole group of stocks out there that people often times just ignore and they're giving up all kinds of long term, relatively low-risk-return opportunities, especially in what I call the health care infrastructure, take place. So I think right now it's very important to be focused on that. Again, we hope you do it through Prosperity Investor, but if not, do it somewhere else. Get your health care more front and center.
Dan Ferris: All right. Sounds good.
Dr. David Eifrig: Folks, don't listen to Tom. Do it right here at the Prosperity Investor.
Dan Ferris: I was going to say. Yeah. So if you go to RetirementWarning2022.com, that's the warning we're talking about. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to take care of yourself physically and financially. I do have my final question. I don't often get to ask it of two guests, usually just one. If you've been on the show before you might remember it. It's the same for every guest, no matter what the topic.
Thomas Carroll: Hot dogs and Coca-Cola is my answer.
Dan Ferris: Doc, I'll start with you. The final question is always the same. If you could leave our listeners with one thought today, what would it be?
Dr. David Eifrig: After finishing listening to Tom's answer and your close, Dan, close up your computer, put on a watch, look at the watch, and go out for a 30 minute walk at whatever pace you can do.
Dan Ferris: That is awesome. That is one of the best, most actionable answers ever given in the history of the show.
Dr. David Eifrig: Woo! Love it. It's real, man. That's life changing. Truly.
Dan Ferris: How about you, Tom? One thought to leave our listener with.
Thomas Carroll: So you're not going to believe this, but answer is almost exactly the same as Doc's. I swear to God, we're not texting. We're not looking at each other. We're not doing anything. I was going to say, not right now, I was going to say at some point, get outside, look at the trees, take some breaths, walk around. Get your heart rate up even just a little bit.
Dr. David Eifrig: Tom, how does it feel to have the second-best answer ever given on the show?
Thomas Carroll: Well, I'm married 25 years this week. So I've been getting used to it.
Dan Ferris: Very good. Two very good answers.
Dr. David Eifrig: Hey, Dan?
Dan Ferris: Yep.
Dr. David Eifrig: What's the No. 1 advice you give, one thing would you leave with people?
Dan Ferris: Wow. No one ever turns the question back on me, ever. I would probably – I'm not a health guy. So don't take health advice from me. But if somebody did ask me about the area of health I would just say move... move more than you think you need to. Move every day. Don't be too sedentary... and leave it at that probably.
Dr. David Eifrig: Great. Love it.
Dan Ferris: Well, really great having the two of you on here. We'll have to get John Engel on the show sometime and talk with him too because he's a big part of what you're doing with Prosperity Investor. I just want to say thank you both for being here. We will definitely be having you both back on real soon.
Dr. David Eifrig: Good. Great. Thanks, Dan.
Thomas Carroll: Fantastic.
Dr. David Eifrig: Thank you. Thanks, Tom.
Dan Ferris: All right. So I guess that's bye-bye for now and we'll talk to you soon.
Dr. David Eifrig: Bye-bye.
Thomas Carroll: Bye-bye.
Dan Ferris: Always fun to talk with my old friend, Doc, and with Tom Carroll as well. Longtime listeners. We'll recognize both of them and of course, having them together, I think, is great. I can't imagine you put those two together and then you get John Engel in there. I'm really looking forward – of course I work for Stansberry. So I've gotten to take a look at the Prosperity Investor and I've read a couple of their reports and seen some of the work. It's just exactly what you'd expect it to be. It's really incredible.
The fact that they're focusing on physical and financial health, your health plus what you would invest in if you really were knowledgeable about your health, what you'd invest in to take advantage of your knowledge... It's pretty cool. I think that adds something that you probably don't get elsewhere. If you want to learn more about it, once again, you can go to RetirementWarning2022.com and check it out. That was great.
Now let's take a look at the mailbag. Let's do it right now. "A new financial crisis has developed recently in America," says stock market expert, Matt McCall, and the trail of destruction it could leave behind will look nothing like what you might expect. In fact, McCall warns nearly 40% of the elite publicly traded companies, brands you've known and used your whole life, could go bankrupt because of a strange market event he calls "the Flippening," wiping out thousands of investor's fortunes.
McCall has written a brand-new report explaining exactly what the Flippening is, how billionaires are already profiting from this big event, and what you should be doing to prepare as well. To get a copy of his new free report with all the details, simply go to MattFlipReport.com. Again, that's MattFlipReport.com for a free copy of our report.
In the mailbag each week, you and I have an honest conversation about investing or whatever is on your mind. Just send comments, questions, and politely worded criticisms to mailto:[email protected]. I read as many e-mails as time allows and respond to as many as possible. You can also call our listener feedback line at 800-381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. Lots of stuff about gold this week.
We'll just dive right in with Charles M. Charles M. has a real bone to pick. Charles says, "I know you say never sell gold, but have you ever tried?" Yeah. I've said many times, Charles, that I did sell gold once and I regretted it.
Charles continues, "When dealing in collectibles like gold, your average investor has to go through some kind of dealer. Therefore, your average investor gets ripped off with at least a 20% upsale when buying." I'm going to stop you right there and I'm not going to answer the rest of the question because it's all based on that, which is wrong. You should never be paying a 20% premium. I realize coins were – there was a shortage or whatever, but you should ask around. If American Eagles are 20% premiums, then ask about Maple Leafs or something else, or don't buy them right then. There are plenty of gold coins in the world and you should never pay 20% when you buy them. So that is wrong. I've never paid more than about 5% or 6% and I'm never going to sell them. So I almost don't care.
All the rest of what you said in your question is based on that. So saying that – you finished your e-mail saying, "As an investment, it's a good way to get ripped off because there's no fair exchange for the average investor." That's simply false. It's just not true. You can buy it through OneGold.com and pay just about nothing, pay very little, or you can own like the Sprott Physical Gold Trust – ticker symbol PHYS, which I've recommended in my newsletter – is a good way to own gold. It's real physical gold in the Royal Canadian Mint and maybe some other mints now. I haven't checked on that lately. I know it is at least in the Royal Canadian Mint. It's a great way to buy it... that you can basically get it almost for free because you buy through your brokerage account and commissions are zero these days. Look around, Charles. You are getting ripped off if you're paying 20%, but it's not necessary to do that.
Next is Wade S. and Wade S. says, "How do you view share buybacks versus dividends as a benefit to the shareholder? When I see a company that has a lot of free cash flow but never pays a dividend, it is a bit of a turnoff. Take Meta, for example," Meta Platform, formally known as Facebook. Wade continues... He says, "If I accept no dividends, then I have to accept the notion that I have to sell a portion of the asset to ever get income from the asset. To me, if a company's return on capex is going down, then it is not in a growth phase and the shareholder should expect some income. I guess I could simulate a dividend by selling appreciated shares, but that doesn't work if share prices are down. Thanks for your insights, Wade S."
Well, you're not wrong about all of that if they pay no dividend. Warren Buffett has recommended doing exactly that with Berkshire stock. He says, "You want a dividend, sell 4% of your stock every year," or something. But of course then you don't have the stock.
The reason he doesn't pay one, and the reason other companies don't pay them, is like in the case of Meta. They earn high returns on capital. You do want them to retain as much cash as possible and reinvest it. Now that has been true historically of Meta. I'm not saying it is necessarily true going forward. That's the analysis you need to do. You need to say, "Well, if they're earning 50%, 60% on capital because it's this software-based business or some high amount, 30%, 40%, 50%, whatever, then I want them to retain as much as possible and invest as much as possible." Usually businesses that do earn that much and get that big can't reinvest it all. So then you're right. You do want them to – they'll probably just buy back stock with it.
You asked – I'm sorry. You did ask about buybacks versus dividends as a benefit to the shareholder. So I like dividends better because you get that absolute amount of cash. It's double-taxed because it's taxed at the corporate level and then it's taxed when you get it... which is grotesque, in my opinion. It's criminal. It's grotesque, but it is what it is. The buybacks, of course, they can benefit you if they're done very well, but they're mostly done poorly. We've been looking at buybacks every single month for 20 years.
I finally had to change the language that I use in Extreme Value when I deal with buybacks and I have a little section for things like free cash flow and margin. And there's a little blurb of text that's identical every month just to describe why we're looking at it, for a new reader if they don't know. The buybacks text had to change from "Buybacks are really great" or whatever I used to say to "Most buybacks stink." That's not exactly what it says, but that's what it means. Most buybacks just stink. Most companies are terrible at it. They buy back more shares when they have more cash, which is usually at the top of the cycle when the stock is really expensive. Then when there's a recession and the stock falls, then everybody is scared and they won't buy it back.
So, yeah, buybacks stink. I'd rather have dividends. Buybacks have been more popular because interest rates have been so low and you can borrow and borrow and borrow and it was a lot cheaper to borrow and buy back the stock than it was to pay a dividend... a dividend that was attractive enough to mean anything.
Next is Eric A. and Eric A. says, "Hi, Dan. Really enjoy your show, but I've heard you mention several times now that some money growth is needed to support a growing economy. I think this is false. Although it is true that you will likely need to divide the existing money units into smaller pieces over time." Then he says a whole bunch of stuff that I can't read.
"Anyways, thanks again for all the great information you put out there on the show. I learn a lot from it. Eric A." Eric, there was plenty of gold pulled out of the ground between 1815 and 1913, and it was a century of deflation. I don't know. I'm not a money expert. I just noticed that, and what George Gilder said to me rang true for that reason alone. So if it's not true, get me a money expert to explain how all of this is supposed to work and no, Murray Rothbard is not one. As much as I admire the man and love his ideas, not a money expert. Although, he had a lot of good things to say about banking. We could quibble about that. We could debate about whether Rothbard is the authority on that. Maybe we'll do that another time, Eric. Thanks for the question.
Finally, this week is Dan F. Yeah. Dan F. Same last initial as me. Dan F. says, "Hi, Dan. In June of 2020, the U.S. inflation rate was 0.6%. Since then, it's gone up 15X and we've had a war break out that severely impacted the global economy, yet gold sits at the same price it was back then. In fact, the war broke out this year and inflation really took off, but gold is down about 5% on the year. If gold is still relevant, how can it sit there doing nothing with these two key factors that have been present in the extreme? Since the average age of people who hold gold is 55, could it be that there aren't enough younger investors who care about gold to keep the historical thesis for it going? I hold plenty of gold. I'm 65, but I'm really starting to wonder if I'm living in a time gone by regarding this. I would appreciate your thoughts on it. Dan F."
So you can't cherry-pick a moment in time and say it didn't work. Somebody did this on Twitter recently. It's stupid. It's just not how you do things. I worry a lot less than this about everyone else. Maybe I'm the delusional one. Everybody keeps telling me I'm delusional about this even though gold has absolutely destroyed everything else this year. It has beat bonds, stocks, bitcoin, whatever else except for a few commodities that soared and now they're curling over. Gold is off 5% and you're complaining this year? How anybody could do this, I have no idea.
Gold, as much as anything, has done extremely well as a store of value and the dollar, technically speaking, is down 9%. So gold is ahead, real 4%. So I don't know what the problem is. People are liquidating. They're scared. It's the end of the biggest bubble in history. They sell everything. I've said this many, many times. Yes, gold will sell off because you can't sell anything in this world – stocks, bonds, corn chips – without buying dollars. Dollars – 80%, or last number I heard was high 70s... 78%, 79% of global transaction values and 60% of global foreign exchange reserves.
So that means that when people sell en masse like they've sold trillions of securities and gold and everything else just to get cash, cash means dollars. So everything falls in price, including gold. I've said this many, many times. The fact that gold has destroyed tech stocks really, I think, especially pisses off the tech-stock people because they're saying, "Gold is terrible. It didn't work." And they cherry-pick June of 2020 and say, "Oh, the set-up was perfect." No, you don't know that. People pretend to be able to read markets and why something went up and why it down, but numbers really can – they're saying, "This happened, therefore it means this particular asset is going up or down in price and that means this." Are you telling me you're right a 100% of the time when you say this? Because most people aren't. Most people aren't even right half the time when they say it, even if they're billionaire successful investors. What the billionaire successful investors – people like Stanley Druckenmiller and George Soros and all the rest, those trader types, not the Warren Buffett types – what they don't tell you is – and Paul Tudor Jones has talked about this... he's another one, yeah – they caught the bottom or the top or whatever, but it was after 15 tries of getting it wrong. That's what they do best.
They're out as soon as they're wrong and they keep trying and trying and trying. So do they know what the market means? Do they know what it means? They abandon the thesis when it just doesn't work? So do they know what it means or do they just have an idea? They're right often enough. But more than that, they get out when they're wrong. So you can tell me you know that because inflation was 0.6% in June 2020 and the price went sideways since then... the inflation is up 15X or whatever, that it doesn't work anymore. But I don't know that and I don't know anyone who really does, frankly.
So, I don't know. It is a complicated subject. You think I'm not disappointed that gold hasn't gone up? Well, of course, but it's gone up in real terms, as I said a moment ago, and that's all you need. That's what you need. Anyway, it's a great question, actually. It's annoying because I have to deal with the fact that this thing I keep recommending is not behaving the way everybody else thinks it should, but I don't think it should behave that way. It's a 50-bagger since gold and the dollar parted ways on August 15, 1971. It has beaten stocks in the 21st century. I'm good with that much. I could talk more about this, but this answer is already way too long. So, good stuff, Dan F. If anybody else wants to rehash this, write in. I'll talk about it some more. It's a good topic.
Well, that's another mailbag, and that's another episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. We provide a transcript for every episode. Just go to InvestorHour.com, click on the episode you want, scroll all the way down, click on the word "transcript," and enjoy. If you liked this episode and know anybody who might like it, tell them to check it out on their podcast app or at InvestorHour.com. Do me a favor, would you? Subscribe to the show on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. And while you're there, help us grow with a rate and a review. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram... Our handle is @InvestorHour. On Twitter, our handle is @Investor_Hour. Have a guest you want me to interview? Drop me a note at [email protected] or call the listener feedback line at 800-381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. Until next week, I'm Dan Ferris. Thanks for listening.
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