I admit it: I'm a sucker for lists. Especially when it comes to end-of-the-year lists. If I spot a list of the best books of the year, I want to see which ones made the list and how many of them I've read. And if I see a list of the best- and worst-performing stocks of the year, I want to see which good and bad moves on my part they reveal.
I recently ran across a website that offers a big collection of "best-of" lists. Permit me to share some of what I learned there.
- The word of the year, according to the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary, is "podcast," defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player." It rang a bell with me because we at The Motley Fool have recently begun offering podcasts of our own. (To check one out, look for little speaker-like icons among our weekly story listings -- here's a sample podcast from a while ago.)
- In The Morning News, Matthew Baldwin listed the best gift games for 2005. I was happy to note that I own five of them and have already played and greatly enjoyed (and recommend) two -- Ra and For Sale. (Did you know that there's even a Motley Fool board game now?)
- I noted that even though 2006 has yet to begin, Motor Trend magazine has already proclaimed the Honda Civic as the 2006 Car of the Year. It's not in my garage. Oh, well.
- Metacritic.com offered the best video games of 2005, arranged by platform. For PS2, Resident Evil 4 got the nod. For Xbox, it was Ninja Gaiden Black. For PCs, it was Civilization IV. For PSP, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. For DS, Mario Kart DS. If you haven't been paying attention to this arena, you probably should. Video games are big, big business and are growing briskly. According to CBS News, "Sales of game software and consoles in the United States alone topped $10 billion last year." Some major players include Electronic Arts and Activision, both recommended in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter (which you can try for free), as well as THQ, Take-Two Interactive, Sony, and a little outfit called Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) -- which happens to be a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. (You can try that one for free, too.)
I wasn't satisfied with everything I found at that website, though, so I kept looking. I found BusinessWeek magazine's best business books for 2005, which included Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Jeremy Siegel's The Future for Investors, Winning by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife, Suzy Welch, and Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East by Clyde Prestowitz. I haven't read these, but I have read Gladwell's previous book and have learned from many of his articles in The New Yorker. And not only have I read Siegel's last book, but he was even my professor in business school!
Perhaps of greatest interest to us investors is a list of the year's best stocks. Here are the best performers for 2005 so far, according to MSN.com:
- NutriSystem (Nasdaq: NTRI ) , up 1,308%
- GeoGlobal Resources (NYSE: GGR ) , up 1,032%
- Peerless Systems (Nasdaq: PRLS ) , up 535%
- ViroPharma (Nasdaq: VPHM ) , up 517%
- Fieldpoint Petroleum (NYSE: FPP ) , up 512%
Unfortunately, my portfolio isn't full of these stocks. In fact, it doesn't even have one of them. Yours probably isn't, either. Though if you're a subscriber to our Stock Advisor, Rule Breakers, or Motley Fool Hidden Gems newsletter services (among several others), you may well be sitting on some stocks that have doubled or tripled. And if so, good for you!
The bulldogreporter.com website listed the worst PR moves of the year, and several involved public companies. In spot No. 8 was Merck (NYSE: MRK ) , for its troubles with Vioxx. "Hiding the risks associated with taking its painkiller Vioxx could cause Merck an $18 billion litigation heartache," the site said. "Even though studies in 2000 showed Vioxx-takers five times more likely to have a heart attack than individuals using a generic medicine, Merck publicly downplayed the risks. A later study blew the lid off Vioxx, resulting in several thousand lawsuits." (Learn more in "Merck's Bitter Pill.")
In ninth place was a story that Snapple owner Cadbury-Schweppes might be trying to forget: Back in June, an attempt was made to construct the world's largest ice pop, made of Snapple's kiwi-strawberry beverage, in Manhattan's busy Union Square. Unfortunately, the temperature was 80 degrees, and the 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton creation melted faster than anticipated, creating a messy, sticky pink river. Bicyclists wiped out, and firefighters had to wash the stuff down the sewer. Ick.
Share your own
So what are your best-of lists? Drop in on our discussion boards and share some lists of your own, or offer links to lists you found and liked. Or just stop by to see what others are saying.
Some of the best charities
And finally, I invite you to learn about some compelling charitable organizations. We're in the midst of our ninth annual charity drive, Foolanthropy. As we've done for years now, we're raising money together to support five impressive organizations. Please take a few minutes to at least learn about this year's featured organizations. (They'll truly be delighted just to have more people familiar with them and their work.) And then consider joining us in contributing a little something to them. Together, we've raised more than $2 million in our past campaigns, thanks to the participation of many Fools like you. Learn more about Foolanthropy here.
Merck is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation.
Selena Maranjian's favorite discussion boards include Book Club, Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. Sheowns shares of Microsoft.For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.