The Week in Review -- June 25, 1999

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  6/18 Close 6/25 Close Change %Change
DJIA 10,855.56 10,552.56 -303.00 -2.79
S&P 500 1,342.84 1,315.31 -27.53 -2.05
Nasdaq 2,563.40 2,552.65 -10.75 -0.42

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Burgers Out of Reach
by Jerry Thomas ( Greetings, Fools.

Let me begin this weekly review of the Fool's best features with a hard sell: run, don't walk to The Motley Fool's brand-new mutual fund resource. I'm used to seeing lots of great material being produced by my colleagues here at the Fool, but once in a while a new feature just knocks me out. The mutual fund industry tends to make fund investing many orders of magnitude more complicated than it ever needs to be. "The Truth About Mutual Funds" unravels all of that unnecessary complication for you. If you have any interest in mutual funds at all -- and especially if you're forced to choose from a confusing array of funds in your 401(k) or similar investment vehicle -- you owe it to yourself to check this out. The folks in the Fool's School really did us proud on this one.

End of hard sell.

I suppose that even regular visitors to this space aren't aware that many of these columns have been written as I sat in the booth at the In-N-Out Burger on Van Nuys Boulevard here in Sherman Oaks, California. In-N-Out is a fast food chain with a very focused menu: burgers, fries, and beverages. The restaurants are obsessively clean, service is nearly instant, and there's always a line at both the walk-in cash registers and the drive through window. In short, more than once I've found myself wondering if this company would make a good investment -- especially since the company seems to be expanding rapidly, with new restaurants popping up all over town. It's one of those You Have More Than You Think situations: Notice the products and services you use yourself, and ask, "Should I invest in this?"

Unfortunately, in this case, it's a pipe dream. In-N-Out is a privately held company, meaning that you can't buy stock in it the way you can with McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) or Tricon (NYSE: YUM). As it happens, I'm not alone in my unrequited longing, because I find that quite a few Fools are fond of companies that money just can't buy (at least, not our money). These desires have been bundled together in yet another Fool special, "Wishing for an IPO." In it, you'll learn of the affection Brian Bauer (TMF Hoops) has for the World Wrestling Federation, Yi-Hsin Chang's (TMF Puck) admiration for J. Crew, and perhaps even the handfuls of M&Ms Dale Wettlaufer (TMF Ralegh) was undoubtedly chug-a-lugging as he wrote about Mars, Inc. I suppose that, beyond being a chance to learn about some great companies, you'll also find in the choices each Fool made something of a Rorschach test revealing their true personalities. Hmmm...

As much as we like certain companies that we wish would go public, it is only prudent that we should keep in mind that not all public offerings of stock are something to look forward to. Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff) advances that principle in Monday's Rule Breaker Portfolio report, in which he examines a number of recent Internet IPOs that have been less than rewarding to those who have invested in them. Jeff reminds us that not all dotcoms are created equal, and that in the long run it is the viability of the business, not the short-term flash of speculation, that will prove most important in whether or not these companies will perform well in the years to come.

Those of you who are interested in the latest troubles Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) is having in Europe will want to check out Jeff's work in Tuesday's Drip Portfolio report. Jeff happens to be on the scene in Paris, and he gives some first-hand insights into what is happening to the beleaguered brand as it meets one of its greatest challenges ever. And since we're talking about the Drip Portfolio, let me also point you to Monday's Report by George Runkle (TMF Runkle). George does a great job of mapping out the many research resources available to investors looking for timely information online. This just might be one page you'll want to bookmark and refer to in the future as your interest in managing your investments keeps growing.

Then there's Rule Breaker Portfolio's holding in Iomega (NYSE: IOM). One of the more interesting debates in Fooldom recently has been whether this growth-oriented portfolio should sell the upstart storage drive company, which has been very persistently avoiding growth in the last year or so. If you have an opinion, you can express it online in the latest Polling All Fools survey, which is surprisingly evenly divided in its results to date. You can also spend a few quiet minutes this weekend enjoying the latest Fribble from Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena). This time, Selena suggests some ways to get your heart pounding without the bother and fuss of joining a fitness club.

By the way, I gave up eating meat about two months ago. It was a surprisingly easy change of habit to make, and I'm getting along fine without hot dogs, rotisserie chicken, submarine sandwiches, and other typical fast foods. One thing I do miss, though, are those yummy In-N-Out burgers. For now, I'll content myself with an occasional order of In-N-Out French fries and leave it at that. Of course, I could be persuaded to indulge in the burgers again if it means I can get in on a good IPO...

Hey, a Fool can dream, can't he?
Until next week,
Fool on!


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