Friday, February 27, 1998
Austin, TX (Feb. 27, 1998) -- It's been an interesting first week of articles for me. I'm still trying to write an article that doesn't have something obviously wrong with it in retrospect, but everybody needs a goal in life and we're all still learning.
When you think that a year ago I was investing in mutual funds, and now people are looking to me for investment guidance, well it frightens ME, anyway. (Gentlemen, what are your credentials? "We're Fools." A line David Gardner pulled at a book signing once.)
Remember that we here at the Fool are learning every day. Tom, Phil, Al, and I are members, just like you. (Tom was recruited by his brother; he's an English major!) If we learn the most from our mistakes, this makes the most knowledgeable people the ones that you definitely want to double-check. (And you thought we were giving out easy answers. Ha!)
It helps to get lots of different views on the subject of investing. Since we've already dismissed most of the major newsletters as totally self-serving, where do you go to find investment advice from outside the investing world?
Try the library. I'm currently reading a book called How to Incorporate Your Business in Any State. (This title is currently out of print, so you have to go to the library, or to Amazon.com.) What does this have to do with investing? Books like these explain more about how corporations actually work than any dozen investment newsletters. If we're going to spend our own money to buy stock, it might be a good idea to know what the heck stock actually is.
Another book I happen to like is called A Fool and his Money, by John Rothschild. If you want to learn from somebody else's mistakes all in a nice, neat package, this is it. This is the day-by-day chronicle of a man who is an impressively bad example of how to invest. He tries options, futures, margin, buying and holding his broker's "hot pick" stocks without a clue actually do, and he suffers the consequences. Along the way, he interviews brokers, stock market analysts, traders on the floor at Wall Street, and even visits Nasdaq headquarters.
Large companies like Cash-Kings also tend to have books written about them. For God, Country and Coca-Cola, by Mark Pendergrast, is a wonderful historical perspective on our favorite malted battery acid and the company that plans to sell it on Mars as soon as feasible. (We bought 27 shares of Coke on Friday at $68 13/16 per share.)
Another of my pet stocks (not quite a Cash-King, but I used to work there) is covered in Big Blues, the Unmaking of IBM, by Paul Carroll. On the same shelf I remember passing up books about GM and Ford. Go pick the company you'd like to buy and see who has written what about it. With inter-library loan, there's probably something.
As to what was wrong with this article... Well, for starters, I'm proud I got to use a nebulous "it" as the first word in the fourth paragraph. And I had a teacher in second grade who insisted it was NEVER appropriate to start a sentence with the word "And." Besides, a preposition is a poor word to end a sentence (or an article) with.
P.S. Brace yourselves, guys. It's Tom's turn again on Monday.
Day Month Year History C-K -0.68% 1.76% 1.76% 1.76% S&P: +0.07% 4.80% 4.80% 4.80% NASDAQ: -0.37% 7.12% 7.12% 7.12% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 2/3/98 24 Microsoft 78.27 84.75 8.28% 2/3/98 22 P