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Blame it on Rio

By Jim Pearce on February 16, 2016

Like many of you, I watch the growing threat of the Zika virus and wonder what I would do if I were an athlete (or spectator) about to travel to Brazil for this year’s summer Olympics. Would I go and trust that event organizers have taken sufficient precautions to insulate the athletes and their audience from it, but risk the possibility of contracting the virus and the unknown repercussions that might ensue?

That may be an easier question for a man to answer than a woman, since at the moment the primary threat is to the fetus of a pregnant female. Even if not pregnant at the time the disease is contracted, how long might it remain dormant and potentially infect a future pregnancy? That’s pretty scary stuff to contemplate, even for a world-class athlete.

You may be wondering why I even bring this up in a publication like Smart Tech Investor, which concentrates on technology stocks. The reason, of course, is that like many other medical crises this one brings with it opportunity for businesses that can either prevent or treat the disease such as the biotech stock Dr. Duarte discusses in our In Focus article this month.

Of course, the travel industry has enough problems on its hands without having to deal with the Zika virus, but for some of its constituents it may also represent opportunity by offering trips to those parts of the world perceived as relatively safe. In our Sector Spotlight article Rob DeFrancesco takes a look at two companies that are using technology to be more nimble in adjusting to fast changing consumer preferences.

And in his Portfolio Update, Rob brings us up to speed on two of his Next Wave portfolio holdings, Varonis Systems and New Relic, both of whom recently delivered solid quarterly results. With all the bad news out there it is sometimes difficult to keep in mind that investor capital never stops chasing opportunity, no matter what the circumstances.

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