All A-Board!

If you haven't explored the breadth of our discussion boards, you owe it to yourself to do so. You're likely to learn new things, discover new companies, and perhaps even make new friends. Here's a taste of some ongoing discussions, as well as links to many, many more.

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By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
June 5, 2002

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. -- Hubert H. Humphrey 

The most fruitful and natural exercise of our mind, in my opinion, is discussion. I find it sweeter than any other action of our life. -- Michel de Montaigne 

From time to time I re-realize that many folks in Fooldom have yet to really delve into our discussion boards, to see their breadth and what they have to offer. Other folks have delved, but have limited themselves to just a few boards, not exploring broadly. This Fool on the Hill is for both groups.

I'll wrap this article up by listing a bunch of interesting boards. But first let me offer you a few snippets of interest from various boards, just to give you a taste of the wide range of conversations taking place out there.

Note that we've recently begun charging for full access to our discussion boards. Don't let that deter you, though. You can sign up for a free trial and during that period check out lots of boards. If you like what you see, the cost for a full year of access is just $30 or so -- not much different than the cost of a magazine subscription.

On our Real Estate and REITs discussion board, ReitNut (who happens to be the author of a very respected book on REITs) offered his opinion on the risk posed to shopping center REITs by encroaching discount superstores:

The bottom line for me is that I am concerned about Wal-Mart making further inroads upon the owners of neighborhood shopping centers, but I am also concerned about the ever-present threat of tenant bankruptcies, as well as overbuilding. These issues will always be with us, but none is likely to be fatal to an REIT that owns good assets in strong locations, particularly if leased to strong supermarket or drugstore anchors. Of course, it also helps to have excellent relationships with many national and regional retailers, who might be able to step in with a strong product offering if Wal-Mart's new presence beats up on the old supermarket anchor. There will always be tenant turnover, but new tenants are usually found for good locations.

782gear chimed in with a look at some numbers for supermarkets and supercenters.

On our Consumer Credit/Credit Cards board, milleniumfalcon replied to a poster who was worried about being unemployed and in debt with this message:

You are in the same situation I was about three years ago.

Things To Do:

1. Get any dang job you can! I had to work two jobs for a while.

2. Call your credit card agencies and get them to lower your interest rates. Many times one phone call will do it.

3. Shop around and get lower credit card rates if at all possible and do a balance transfer.  I took a Citi with 0% for six months and transferred my 14.9% Chase Visa onto it. It really helps.

4. Try not to fund any activities with your cards. Period. Paragraph.

5. Health insurance: Only if you really need it. Right now, keeping as much as you can earn is important, since your "dang job" may not bring in as much dough as your dream one.

6. See #1.

Who three years ago was unemployed with $17K worth of debt... and will be free free free as of June 30, 2002

I myself think it's dangerous to take any chances with health insurance, but, other than that, this is great advice. (Here's more guidance on digging out from under debt. Also, check out the links in the discussion board's announcement box, to the right of each post's text.)

On the Rat's Survival Alternatives board, mishedlo offered a bearish take on the economy's recovery. Here's one of his many points:

Much of this spending has been because of refinancing mortgages. People have pulled money out of the refi deals and spent it. What spending is going to replace this mammoth fuel?

His post was referenced and rebutted on the L'Union Fait la Force board by scrim1 and others. For more on this topic, poke around those boards.

Is 39 stocks too many to own? jammerh, on the Peter Lynch Investing board, says yes. He quotes Lynch, saying:

If you invest $1,000 in a stock, all you can lose is $1,000, but you stand to gain $10,000 or even $50,000 over time if you're patient. The average person can concentrate on a few good companies, while the fund manager is forced to diversify. By owning too many stocks, you lose this advantage of concentration. It takes only a handful of big winners to make a lifetime of investing worthwhile.

He also references a great post by delighted, summarizing "Peter's Principles."

It's been a sleepy period recently on the Grape's Fisher Kings board, which has centered on investing a la Philip Fisher. Former Fool writer/analyst (and all-around smart guy and accounting expert) Phil Weiss recently asked the board:

Particularly with the market environment today, I think there's a real need for more analysis focused on the accounting shenanigans companies pull. Even the WSJ now has a columnist that writes once a week on this topic from a general perspective. I've read her work and find it to be on target. Much of what you find in columns I've seen on the subject is general in nature and little of it is company focused. I'm thinking of trying to develop something along these lines (don't ask me what yet; I'm not sure).

Keep an eye on the board and you may learn of some companies' shenanigans before many others do! (The best way to keep an eye on any board is to click the little red heart on any of its posts. That will make it one of your "Favorite Boards," listed on your "My Fool" page.

On the Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) board, there's a discussion following a Peter Jennings special report on the pharmaceutical industry. Here are a few posts from it: NABass thought it was a "hatchet job." dcanfiel asks, among other things, "No one is questioning GM's profits or margins or costs. Why pharma's?" Drebbin adds that, "I think it is primarily the media that chooses to portray things like 'profit' as being a bad thing."

On the Turnarounds/Value Investing board, saugustine asked:

At this time, what are some good turnaround candidates? I have been leaning towards MIR, VRSN, TYC, AOL. But, VRSN isn't really a turnaround, it may just be beaten down severely with a possibility of a greater beating in the future. The others seem to have solid business models, just a huge downturn over the past year or two in some cases.

If you have any thoughts to add or value plays of your own to suggest, drop in on the board. It's not an incredibly busy one -- folks there should be happy to hear from you.

For those looking to dig into the meat of financial statements and the nuts and bolts of analyzing companies, pop into the Valuation Strategies board, where folks are discussing how to calculate WACC (weighted average cost of capital), return on invested capital (ROIC), and free cash flow (FCF).

On the Discount Brokers board, rwde shares some good links to articles on things to look out for when choosing a broker. For a Foolish perspective on the topic, drop by our Discount Broker Center, which offers info as well as the ability to compare several brokerages and sign up for an account with several brokerages that sponsor Fool content.

Here's a list of more than 60 discussion boards in Fooldom. I invite you to pop into any of them that interest you, and to join in the discussion (or at least to lurk and read). And for those interested, here's an even longer list, of 250-plus boards.)

Selena Maranjian is smarter than a speeding bullet and faster than a tall building. She owns shares of Pfizer. To see Selena's complete stock holdings, view her profile. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools