Joel's note: The Altimetry offices are closed tomorrow and Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday, so look for your next Altimetry Daily Authority on Tuesday, December 28.

Looking back over 2021, this year ended up surprisingly similar to last year...

Just ahead of Thanksgiving 2020, I had been reflecting on how the holiday would look in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns.

Families were forced to socially distance, and traditions that might have run for decades were upended.

At the time, the optimism was that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve of 2020 would wrap up a bad year, with a brighter 2021 ahead.

Instead, here we are with Christmas Eve coming up tomorrow... and who would have thought that something with the name of "omicron" would be negatively affecting our family get-togethers yet again.

Confirmed COVID-19 case counts are spiking, approaching the heights of the outbreak earlier this year. In the U.K., cases have blown past prior peaks.

At times, it might feel like we're back at square one. And yet, as I was looking back on my Thanksgiving missive from a year ago, the positive message inside it still rings true...

As I said back then, English poet John Milton's Comus was the first work to coin the idea of a 'silver lining'...

In his 17th-century poem, Milton writes...

Was I deceived? Or did a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

I did not err, there does a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night,

And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

In today's plain English, Milton is noting the silver lining behind dark clouds. How we make lemonade out of lemons – in epic proportions.

If you'd like to read last year's holiday note, you can do so right here... In it, I cover some personal and professional silver linings over the past few decades.

Some of those include how the pandemic has pulled family and friends together globally, technologically, to communicate even more often in many cases.

The changes in society have led more people to reclaim more of their day from the wasted hours in long commutes and traffic. That silver lining looks more and more like a truly lasting and sustained positive change.

And the crisis has pushed many people – including some of my close personal friends and colleagues – to prioritize their health in ways they hadn't done previously.

This Christmas, there continue to be silver linings...

Yes, another variant of COVID-19 has been circulating. But look at what we have now compared to what we didn't have by Thanksgiving or earlier last year...

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the first U.S.-approved vaccine – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – was approved. For tens of millions of people at higher risk of serious consequences and death from the virus, the vaccine has been a true lifesaver.

Multiple therapeutics have come out to treat the various iterations of COVID-19 that have emerged, making the likelihood of dying from the disease much lower. These include new treatments from both Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK) in the past few months.

Late last year, COVID-19 diagnostic tests were still a huge challenge. Now, if you're visiting relatives at higher risk, it's easier to get a test before having that visit.

And many experts in epidemiology are saying that in some ways omicron is actually a potential step in the right direction. While more contagious, it may also be less virulent. This appears to be bearing out in the data on hospitalization rates and death rates in many of the places where omicron has hit hardest.

So here we find ourselves this Christmas, with some vision of light at the end of the tunnel.

Some silver linings that are better than gold...

Labor markets have shown a wide range of issues. Some talk about the "Great Resignation," wherein so many people have simply decided to quit their jobs. The pandemic has afforded them the time to rethink how they want to live their lives, and what career paths are best for them.

The reality is that the current labor market has created a great opportunity for many people to reassess careers and positions in the workplace. My good friend Miles Everson, the CEO of MBO Partners, has even renamed it to the "Great Realization" that many of the workforce are experiencing.

The number of people going out  to start their own businesses or take control of their hours as independent contractors has exploded.

We've also seen massive stock market wealth created over the past year. The S&P 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite Index are both up almost 30% from this time last year. This helps firm up personal balance sheets and gives folks confidence and calm in their financial lives.

If you've been reading Altimetry Daily Authority, you've stayed involved and invested in the stock market to reap those returns... and you've done even better if you've been reading our paid newsletters like Altimetry's Hidden Alpha, Altimetry's High Alpha, and Microcap Confidential.

We've had 14 positions across those portfolios where we've closed either the full position or part of it for an over 100% gain in the past year.

In fact, in Microcap Confidential, we're sitting on double-digit gains on nine open positions... and triple-digit gains in five others. We even just released a brand-new presentation to highlight our favorite microcap stocks, and we also explain why we're so bullish for 2022 – naming a few stocks that are poised for a big year ahead. If you aren't already a subscriber, make sure to check it out right here.

Moving on, let's discuss some personal silver linings...

First up is my longtime business partner and Altimetry Director of Research Rob Spivey.

Rob told me that he is grateful that this year has given scientists time to do hard research that doesn't get reported widely enough.

And contrary to apparent rumors, he tells me, cheese isn't inherently unhealthy... and is just as likely or unlikely to cause weight gain as any other food.

(I've chosen not to remind him that whether or not something causes you to gain weight is not the definition of if it being healthy or not!)

Rob also said that he is tremendously grateful for his time with family and friends in Maine, and how the pandemic caused him to take a leap in getting a cabin in the woods. If the past 18 months had been more normal, he probably would have waited another 20 years and would have forever regretted it.

Polling elsewhere around the Altimetry office, what are other folks thankful for?

  • One of our analysts, Aaron, is grateful for how the past 18 months have helped him realize the importance of prioritizing the time he does get to spend with the people he cares about.

    He mentioned how he got to spend time with his grandmother visiting him from Israel, and seeing friends in places like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Seattle. Some amount of travel has returned safely to our lives.

  • Kyle is grateful that after getting engaged last year (congratulations, Kyle!), he has discovered that wedding planning isn't so bad when you've got great future in-laws.
  • Our co-op intern, Martin, is grateful that much of he and his family's and friends' lives have returned to something that is a much closer approximation of normal. He is thankful that he hasn't lost anyone close to him to the pandemic.
  • You may have seen Edward's name appear on Daily Authority articles recently... He's one of our integral members of the team. Edward says he's grateful for the relationships that he has strengthened in person, as the pandemic has led to more time with those closest to him.

    (That includes Edward's new girlfriend... who I promised I wouldn't name in an article going out to several tens of thousands of people!)

  • Our other co-op intern, Nick, is grateful that his 12-year-old beagle Carina has entirely too much fight in her. His family was told she had days to live in October after finding out she had cancer, but she is still chugging along... and Nick is grateful for every day he has with her.
  • And our resident beer aficionado Andy, who is thrilled that for once I haven't tried to call him a "cicerone" (the beer equivalent to a sommelier), is grateful that after a year of closings, he was able to visit his first taproom in June on a trip to Vermont.

    Andy is grateful for the lessons he has learned in the pandemic. He notes how it is all too easy to let circumstances cause you to fall into bad habits like watching a movie and eating homemade popcorn instead of exercising. That said, our life actions still have consequences and we're all amazing, resilient people.

And of course, let me say that all of us here at Altimetry are beyond grateful for each of you, our readers...

You folks are the ones who make everything we do have meaning.

We're thrilled that our content, ideas, and our people are able to join all of your lives and help with your journey of wealth creation. And by wealth creation, we mean every sense of the world "wealth"... wealth in knowledge and ideas, wealth in relationships, wealth in experience, and of course wealth in health.

We hope that by sharing a bit of what we're grateful for, it might spark some silver linings of your own – things we can all be grateful for as we move toward the end of 2021.

Merry Christmas... Happy Holidays... and with love, joy, and peace,

Joel Litman
December 23, 2021