The Week in Review -- January 22, 1999

The Markets

  1/15 Close 1/22 Close Change %Change
DJIA 9,340.55 9,120.67 -219.88 -2.35
S&P 500 1,243.24 1,225.19 -18.05 -1.45
Nasdaq 2,348.20 2,338.88 -9.32 -0.40

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More Than Enough
by Jerry Thomas (tmfcheeze@aol.com)

Greetings, Fools.

I'm not sure I can keep up with it any more.

Consider the Rule Breaker Portfolio. Launched in August of 1994, it is the progenitor of all of our online, real-money portfolios. At the close of every trading day since that launch, a studious Fool has handcrafted a thoughtful report reviewing that portfolio's performance and refining the investing philosophy behind it. And so each day another new report is gathered and tenderly placed among the pages of our website, where it will stay, presumably, forever; each one a golden brick in an ever-rising Foolish castle. By now there are over a thousand Rule Breaker Reports posted to our website, amounting to more than a million words of commentary. I doubt if any portfolio in the history of equity investing has ever been the object of such careful ongoing examination.

And that's just one portfolio, one card in the deck, one key on the piano. There are all those other portfolios too -- not to mention the steady stream of features, specials, reports, and everything else that grows on our little Foolish website. There are piles of stuff there even before you begin to consider the contributions from our customers on our community message boards. And I'm supposed to stay on top of it all.

Still, there is a lot to be said for this steady accrual of information. Each passing day, the website becomes a richer store of resources. For example, click back to the September 11, 1998 edition of these Notes, and you'll find me expressing considerable chagrin at, what seemed at the time, the desperate tone of (roughly speaking, give or take) every mainstream magazine cover in America. Those headlines screaming "Crash!" "Panic!" and even "Armageddon!" probably sold a lot of dead trees, but I doubt they did much in the way of enlightening their readers. "Is anybody optimistic these days? Are they trapped somewhere in a journalism-proof booth?" I asked back then, in those ancient days of four months ago. The stock market was collapsing. There was blood in the streets. America was doomed.

Funny how that goes. This week, despite a few trying days in the markets, Alan Greenspan is chirping about the splendid state of the American economy. Those old magazines have all been carted off to the dustbin, where, I imagine, the editors of those issues hope they will never again see the light of day.

Too bad. That whistle blowing pack rat, Louis Corrigan (TMF Seymor), has saved the evidence. His comprehensive review of last fall's alarmist orgy of self-indulgent fear-mongering in the mainstream press is the Foolish must-read of the week. It's funny how vulnerable the establishment media can be to one Fool with a sturdy notebook and a good memory.

By the way, the cover of this week's U.S. News and World Report reads: "The Internet Stock Bubble -- When Will It Pop?" Make of that what you will. Perhaps a look at Louis's Wednesday Fool on the Hill commentary will help you sort it out.

Whatever you make of it, the task still falls to me to sift through the reams of Foolish material and spotlight some half-dozen or so gems that are the pick of the lot. It is inevitable that I will overlook a few keepers. Last week, for example, I neglected to mention TMF Edible's informative bio of America Online (NYSE: AOL) CEO Steve Case. (Sorry about that, Rick.) This week I will only end up snubbing someone else, and for that I apologize, and I encourage those who are hungry for a more comprehensive summary of our weekly production to please bookmark the FoolWatch page and check it regularly. This link is the road map to finding all of our most recent features, specials, portfolio reports, and breaking news coverage. (Trust me on this one, friends -- I use it myself.)

And so, with my space dwindling with each syllable, let me note a few other stand-outs of the week. Those who look for information on specific companies will almost inevitably find something to please them in Fooldom. Wednesday's Boring Report from Fool Dale Wettlaufer (TMF Ralegh) examines Hershey Foods (NYSE: HSY) and its "Empire of Chocolate." Meanwhile, this week's Dueling Fools focuses on the big daddy of all holding companies, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). Finally, remember to check out this week's Foolish Four reports, beginning with Tuesday's interview of Michael O'Higgins by Ann Coleman (TMF AnnC). Is O'Higgins abandoning his famous "Beating the Dow" approach to investing in stocks? I'll just have to leave it to Ann to explain it for you.

After all, I'm just one Fool.

Until next week,
Fool on!

Cheeze

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