Oprah, Investment Guru

Dear Oprah,

I love your show. I know that might make me sound a little less manly to some, but who cares. I was never all that macho anyway.

Now, I don't watch your show because I'm some ultrahip metrosexual. Nope. I'm about as square as they come. Just ask my wife. She introduced me to your show a few years ago, and I used to watch for her. (You know, the things we do for love and all that.) But recently, I realized the genius behind what you do. It started when my wife began coming to me with tips for where to invest our cash. Surprisingly, each of the companies had been featured on your show. Most of them were private firms, but some weren't. I dug a little further, and it turns out you're one heck of a stock picker.

That's right, Oprah, I watch your show for the stock tips. Just check out how some of the public companies producing or selling products on your list of favorite things last Christmas have fared:

Company Jan. 2, 2004 July 8, 2004 Total Return
Estee Lauder (NYSE: EL  )
M.A.C. cosmetic carrying case
$38.57 $49.14* 27.4%
Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH  )
FoodSaver Vac 800, by Tilia
$28.33 $34.85 23.0%

Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD  )
Pure Simplicity pumpkin purifying mask
(at Bath & Body Works)

$17.75 $19.64* 10.6%

Neiman Marcus (NYSE: NMG.A  )
Cliff and Buster macaroons, Frederic
Fekkai Crème Luxeuse, Apple Cider
clean shampoo and conditioner, Philip
Stein Teslar watch, and The Neiman
Marcus Cookbook

$52.45 $55.52* 5.9%

Nike (NYSE: NKE  )
Dri-FIT workout outfit

$67.61 $74.27* 9.9%

Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN  )
Barefoot Dreams robes and towels,
Cambio Jeans, UGG classic short boots,
and Judith Ripka Two necklace

$33.25 $41.50* 24.8%

Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL  )
Black cashmere sweater

$28.69 $33.84* 17.9%
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  )
BlackBerry wireless email device
$34.62** $67.62** 95.3%

Sony (NYSE: SNE  )
DCR-DVD200 Handycam

$34.98 $37.08 6.0%

Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM  )
Melted chocolate cake batter

$34.13 $31.80 -6.8%
Totals $405.00 $512.88 26.6%

* Includes reinvested dividends.
** Adjusted for 2-for-1 stock split on June 7, 2004.

Technically, we could include Louis Vuitton, since the French fashion broker is behind the Davies Gate allspice cinnamon powder sugar soak from its Sephora unit. But Louis Vuitton trades on the pink sheets under the ticker symbol LVMHF here in the U.S. The company is far more prevalent in France, where its stock is a component of the CAC 40, the French equivalent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Still, the results are clear. The total return from the stocks of the companies behind your favorite things easily trounces the S&P 500's 2004 total return of 0.21%.

Girl, you've got the Midas touch, and I want you as my broker.

The "O" factor
There's no need to be humble, Oprah. The "O" Factor -- getting a mention on your show or in your magazine of the same name -- generates nearly instant wealth. For example, after adding Leo Tolstoy's 127-year-old novel Anna Karenina to your book club, it was almost overnight restored to best-seller status on Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) . (Perhaps I could get the higher-ups to send you Tom and David Gardner's new book The Motley Fool's Money After 40 for all the sophisticated women who watch your show?)

And then there's my favorite: The Million Dollar Idea competition. You were able to distill the American Dream into a few short segments, rewarding ingenuity with capital to start a business. The winner, stay-at-home dad Robert Klick, today is in mass production with the Po-Knee, his toddler-bouncing invention that is already selling on a trial basis through Target's (NYSE: TGT  ) website. Then there's finalist Raquel Lett-Anderson, whose Gabriel Feeding Pad is also being offered through Target and Toys "R" Us (NYSE: TOY  ) , which sells it to new parents through the Babies "R" Us chain.

No wonder Time magazine twice named you one of the most influential people in the 20th century.

Extending the franchise
Your charm and style make almost anything look good -- even The Donald. You had him on before the April finale of The Apprentice to plug the show and his new book. Donald shared some of his secrets for getting rich, and the book remains on The New York Times best-seller list. (Clearly some of these readers haven't taken a look at the financials for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (NYSE: DJT  ) . My problem with debt wouldn't have come close to Donald's dilemma.)

Of course, nothing proves the power of your influence more than the success of Dr. Phil McGraw, who has a TV show and several books. He's built his own franchise for selling his expertise. Sure, he deserves credit for creating a successful business, but would it have taken off as it has without the "O" Factor? I don't think so.

All the same, Dr. Phil, if you ever decide to go public, give me a call please. I want in on your IPO.

Couch potato research
The best thing about you, Oprah, is that you give me stock ideas while I'm sitting on my, uh... well, you know. Between your favorite things, the Million Dollar Idea, every issue of O Magazine, and our investing newsletters, my wife and I get plenty of research. And I save a trip to the mall in the process. You've made it easier for the lazy investor in all of us. Bless you, Oprah.

So, what do you say? Will you be my broker? No, wait. Don't answer that. I'm too afraid that you'll say no. After all, America needs you, and that's OK. But keep those lists coming. In fact, I have some ideas for a few more:

  • Oprah's favorite hotels
  • Oprah's favorite airlines
  • Oprah's favorite restaurant chains
  • Oprah's favorite movies
  • Oprah's favorite supermarkets
  • Oprah's favorite websites
  • Oprah's favorite manufacturing plants

Oh, OK. You can skip that last one.

Peter Lynch, eat your heart out. Yeah, you're still the king when it comes to investing. (Although you need to share that crown with the mighty Mr. Buffett). But, if you'll allow this meager Fool to say so, Oprah, you are most definitely the queen.

Fool on!

Fool contributorTim Beyersreally does watch Oprah, but not every day. Still, that doesn't stop his wife from recording her show each afternoon in the hope that he someday will. Tim owns no interest in any of the securities mentioned, and you can view his Fool profilehere. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.


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