Tuesday, June 15, 1999

The Teacher Appears


I think this is going to be a short Fribble. I mention this just so your expectations are set appropriately. If your goal is to while away a few hours, may I suggest to commune with the intricacies of Y2K? I just have a quick story about my first exposure to a real, in the flesh, stock analyst.

At a recent company meeting, one of the analysts who follows the stock of the company that writes me paychecks now and again was asked to speak. The consensus from the other employees was the talk was going to be boring and uninteresting. I knew I would be riveted throughout. Here was someone who was certainly paid handsomely for his ability to see through the fog of war. This was someone who lived and breathed numbers and accounting subtleties. This was indeed someone that probably believes there really are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)!

To quote a very old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Since really good Web pages are supposed to have links, see this one for a reference to this very old saying. It's a page about Mike Tyson, which has nothing to do with anything on this planet, but it is, after all, a link and you will find the very old saying on the page if you look really hard.

A hush falls over the audience. "Your stock will trade at 30 times earnings so my target is $50." A hand goes up in the audience. "Why?" The hush resumes. "Because that's what happened last time." Another hand. "But we have two significant new products!" The hush is getting cranky that people keep interrupting it, but he gives it another shot -- the hush returns. "Oh, that could make a difference, but my model doesn't take that into account." A hubbub enters the room, the hush gives up and leaves with a huff. The huff looked a bit suspicious so I was glad to see it go.

Well that's it. "I predict that the stock will do what it did the last time. Unless it doesn't." As Master Po said in the March 15, 1973 episode of "Kung Fu": "Reach out, yet be wary of what you allow yourself to grasp." That about sums it up, Foolhopper.

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