Plus, a light shines on 3Com
by Barbara Eisner Bayer
WOODSTOCK, NY (June 25, 1998) -- If you're an investor (and if you're reading this column you probably are), you've been on quite a roller coaster ride lately. Those of us in stocks for the long-term pay little heed to the market's daily ups and downs. Nevertheless, I sometimes wonder who manufactures Maalox.
Being a 1990s investor makes me long for those halcyon June Cleaver days, when being a woman meant little more than baking cookies and worrying about the Beav. June never fretted over college tuition, caring for elderly parents, or building a retirement nest egg. Her hero, Ward, handled it.
Nowadays, 75% of women are either primarily or equally responsible for the family's financial planning. But where and when were women taught this management skill?
When I was a kid, boys cut wood in shop while girls cooked in home economics. (I still have indigestion from one casserole.) In the enlightened 70's, women were offered better, if not equal, employment opportunities; yet today, they earn 74 cents to their male counterpart's dollar. Financial equality? Hrmph.
Many women are intimidated by a (mis)perception that men are genetically knowledgeable in matters monetary, leading them to relinquish financial responsibility to husbands and/or brokers. And because they generally out-live the so-called "stronger" sex, they'll likely be widows -- a vulnerable time to learn the dizzying task of financial management.
Contemporary women grew up in the era of Barbie and her dream house, believing Prince Charming would whisk them away to live happily ever after (with a diversified portfolio). But with skyrocketing divorce and widowhood, that fantasy is a bust. And all the silicone in the valley can't re-inflate it. Women must now create their own financial lives. But how? There's never been a Wall Street Barbie to emulate.
Consider Retirement Barbie. Since 74% of today's elderly poor are women living at or below the poverty line, she comes with a limited wardrobe. She's a widow, her income is $8,189, and Social Security is most likely her sole income source. No champagne for her. More than likely she has no pension and, if she does, it's half as much as Retirement Ken's (who comes complete with Florida condo, golf clubs and Baywatch Barbie on his arm).
Many women don't deal with their financial future until it's too late, often catapulted into it during times of emotional distress -- divorce, widowhood or a parent's death. They feel hopeless that they'll ever decode the seemingly indecipherable language of finance. It's our duty as children, mothers, husbands, siblings or friends, to help the women we love become Foolish. Truth is, women don't need a special education to learn about investing -- they just need to be encouraged to drink from the information fountain.
In the "Women and Investing" folder on our website, we frequently discuss how to inspire the ladies we love to become financially enlightened. Just being conscious and responsible ourselves is certainly one way to stimulate interest. If you have any ideas, please come share them with us (it's unisex). The linens and fine china are already prepared, and we'll sit you down for tea. (And if you're lucky, TMF 2Aruba will serve you in his French maid's uniform. Or maybe lucky isn't the right word.)
Now, on to the Fool Portfolio before they take away my modem.
On a day when profit-taking was inevitable after the market rebound of the past few days, the Fool Port (+1.27%) clobbered the S&P (-0.32%), on the strength of AOL and 3Com.
That's right -- you heard correctly -- 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS). Finally, there's some light shining on our bruised warrior. The company beat earnings expectations by $0.01 and announced a share buyback, creating an onslaught of analyst upgrades. And they say women are fickle. Today's Lunchtime News has an analysis of the numbers. In addition, the 3Com audio conference call replay is available at:
DELIVER - Get Fool Portfolio Nightly Reports
delivered straight to your e-mailbox every evening!
Today's FoolWatch: all the latest in Fooldom.
Day Month Year History FOOL +1.27% 24.21% 43.09% 380.23% S&P: -0.32% 3.53% 16.37% 146.35% NASDAQ: -0.77% 4.74% 18.65% 158.72% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 3.64 108.00 2869.94% 9/9/97 580 Amazon.com 19.11 99.13 418.69% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 5.50 329.55% 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 23.81 79.75 234.97% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 58.56 47.97% 2/20/98 215 DuPont 59.83 75.31 25.87% 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 95.91 113.13 17.95% 2/20/98 200 Exxon 64.09 72.56 13.22% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 7.50 11.44% 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 47.69 43.25 -9.31% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 31.44 -32.92% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 16.38 -36.20% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 27.44 -38.63% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 12.88 -53.54% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 2581.87 76680.00 $74098.13 9/9/97 580 Amazon.com 11084.24 57492.50 $46408.26 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 10780.00 $8270.40 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 1999.88 6699.00 $4699.12 2/20/98 215 DuPont 12864.25 16192.19 $3327.94 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 7613.13 $2468.02 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 11029.25 13009.38 $1980.13 2/20/98 200 Exxon 12818.00 14512.50 $1694.50 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -8775.00 $1133.50 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 12876.75 11677.50 -$1199.25 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 3566.88 -$2245.62 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11715.99 7859.38 -$3856.62 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 6959.38 -$3949.25 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 4184.38 -$4821.25 CASH $11662.57 TOTAL $240113.76