FOOLISH FOUR PORTFOLIO

Foolish Four Portfolio
Information Ghoulore
..and help with research

By Barbara Eisner Bayer (TMF Venus)

WOODSTOCK, NY (OCT. 29, 1999) -- As the candles flicker through a pumpkin's toothless grin, October 1999 will be remembered for the tricks and treats the stock market played on Foolish Four investors.

A playful and devilish spirit possessed the editors of The Wall Street Journal as they decided to honor the technological forces of the millennium by discarding antiquated ideas from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), only to replace them with visions of tomorrow. For those of you who've been taking a black catnap these past couple of pre-Halloween days, Microsoft, Intel, SBC Communications, and Home Depot will replace Sears, Chevron, Goodyear Tire, and Union Carbide on the DJIA beginning Monday.

The changes may or may not have an impact on the future of the Foolish Four; nobody knows, not even the witches looking for answers in their cauldrons. In any case, it's always a good time to entertain an investment in individual stocks to complement your Foolish Four holdings. (This process is further explained in Steps 5 through 12 of our Thirteen Steps to Investing Foolishly.)

The foray into individual stocks doesn't need to be as scary as a goblin, if you know what you're looking for. You've got the desire, the idea -- now whereto for the information? Why, right here at The Motley Fool! Grab a costume of choice and travel with me, enjoying all the treats our site has to offer. (As for tricks, you'll have to wait until April Fools' Day.)

A knock on the door of our Quotes/Data page will provide you with basic company statistics. (Or, if you're experiencing a yen to be costumed as Queen Elizabeth, click on the link to UK Quotes/Data for a transcontinental experience. You won't even need a broomstick to get there.)

Knock, knock on "Data" by putting in a ticker symbol and you'll find the major links to gathering company information: News, Charts, Estimates, Snapshot, Financials, and SEC Filings. Suppose we wanted to find info on Foolish Four holding J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM), which is still, as far as I know, a Dow 30 stock.

The Estimates provide the information necessary to run valuations and give you a sneak preview as to what those highly paid analysts think.

The Snapshot is the meat of the sandwich (although if someone drops a sandwich that's not an Oreo cookie into your trick-or-treat bag, give it back). It gives you all the ratios a value investor dreams of, and numbers on profitability and financial strength. If you don't understand all this yet, head over to our Valuations area for help.

Financials will prepare you to be any accountants dream date, and enable you to get a sense of how the company has grown in the past. There are also 1-, 3- and 5-year growth rates for sales, earnings per share, and dividends.

Back at the main Quotes/Data page (http://quote.fool.com), tap on the goodies under Calendars. Earnings Announcements won't tell you if it's payday, but it will inform you when companies plan to report and at what time of day -- just in case you want to send them a Happy Earnings Day card. Stock Splits lists upcoming splits.

Now, type in the ticker for DJIA newbie Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). Click on the Charts feature. If you open up "Show Events," you can get a history of the splits (and dividends). No tricks and many treats.

The right side of the Quotes/Data page provides us with short-term facts, mostly useless to long-term investors, but arguably fun to have. My favorite is the "CEO Wealth Meter," where clicking on Bill Gates tells me that the Microsoft mogul earned a mere $542,297 last year. Of course, his share value in Microsoft is almost $100,000,000,000 (check out those zeros), but it's good to know that Bill can live comfortably from day to day on his meager paycheck without having to dent that stock. Compare that to Michael Dell's salary of $3,470,851. Bill -- looks like it's time for a raise.

Knock, Knock and enter a symbol in the "Company Information" box at the top of the page. You'll arrive at the Fun House of Foolish Facts.

Click on the link to Institutional Holdings for International Paper (NYSE: IP) and you'll be forced to duck as a pop-up window jumps onto the screen offering facts about the holdings of the big boys, while a click on "Insider Trading" will let you know if the officers of the company are buying and/or selling their stock.

Finally, click on the links to the latest news and the most recent messages from our boards. Then head on over and say a hair-raising "Boo!" to other Fools interested in the company.

All this information affords a Fool opportunities to peek into the past, present, and future of a company in his/her quest to find successful investments. Unless you're a financial Merlin, that's the best an individual can hope for.

Ghoul on!

Today's Stock Lists | 1999 Dow Returns

Read More Foolish Four Reports


Top Dow Stocks
( RP Order )

10/29/99

1. Philip Morris
   (NYSE:MO)
2. * General Motors
   (NYSE:GM)
3. * Caterpillar
   (NYSE:CAT)
4. * Eastman Kodak
   (NYSE:EK)
5. * Exxon
   (NYSE:XON)
6. AT&T
   (NYSE:T)
7. DuPont
   (NYSE:DD)
8. JP Morgan
   (NYSE:JPM)
9. International Paper
   (NYSE:IP)
10. SBC Ccommunications
   (NYSE:SBC)

NOTE: Today's Foolish Four stock selections are marked with an asterisk.

Foolish Four Portfolio

10/29/99 Closing Numbers
Ticker Company Dly Pr Chg Price
CATCATERPILLAR INC9/16$55.31
IPINTL PAPER3/16$52.63
JPMMORGAN (JP)-1 3/16$130.88
MMMMINNESOTA MIN'G/MFG-1 13/16$95.06

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
Since
12/24/98
Annualized
Foolish Four 1.38% 3.62% 5.46% 25.97% 27.84% 33.56%
S&P 500(DA) 1.53% 4.71% 6.25% 11.46% 11.52% 13.71%
NASDAQ 3.17% 5.32% 8.02% 35.29% 36.54% 44.34%
DJIA (DA) 1.01% 2.48% 3.80% 18.26% 18.42% 22.04%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg
12/24/9814MMM73.571$95.0629.21%
12/24/9824CAT43.083$55.3128.38%
12/24/989JPM105.514$130.8824.04%
12/24/9822IP43.551$52.6320.84%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
12/24/9814MMM$1,030.00$1,330.88$300.88
12/24/9824CAT$1,034.00$1,327.50$293.50
12/24/989JPM$949.63$1,177.88$228.25
12/24/9822IP$958.12$1,157.75$199.63
  Cash: $119.51  
  Total: $5,113.51  

Key
• S&P 500 (DA) = dividend adjusted. Dividends have been added to the total return of the index.
• DJIA (DA) = dividend adjusted. Dividends have been added to the total return of the DJIA.

Note
The Foolish Four Portfolio was launched on December 24, 1998, with $4,000. Additional cash is never added, all transactions are discussed and explained publicly before being made, and returns are compared daily to the S&P 500 and the Dow. (Dividends are included in the yearly, historic and annualized returns.) Stocks are chosen once per year using a formula based on dividend yield and price. See The Foolish Four Explained for details.