Rule Breaker Portfolio

<THE RULE BREAKER PORTFOLIO>

Big Moves, Little News
Plus, Amazon slowing growth?

By Paul Larson (TMF Parlay)

CHICAGO, IL (August 30, 1999) -- It was yet another fairly lazy Monday in the markets as we wind down the last days of summer. Some stocks went up, others went down, and those who have the jobs of reporting on the play-by-play kept the banter rolling. But all in all, not much happened today whatsoever.

Although, some may look at how this portfolio did as a whole, down 4.76% versus declines of 1.67% and 1.80% for the Nasdaq and S&P respectively, and think today was an important day. Hmmmmmm, not really. You see, as Fools we like to keep an eye on what the companies we own are doing, not what Wall Street is doing to our stocks during any given trading session. Was it an active trading day? Yes. Big deal! Was it an active news day? Nah. Will we remember today a year or even a month from now? Probably not.

About the most exciting thing to happen among the Rule Breaker stocks was a fairly harsh story running in TheStreet.com about Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN). In a nutshell, a short-seller wrote a column about how Amazon's sequential quarterly revenue growth was slowing on a percentage basis.

A few points to remember:

1) Percentage growth will continue to slow as the base of operations becomes larger. No company can sustain 60%, 30%, or even 15% sequential quarterly growth for more than short periods of time. Plus, companies earlier in their growth cycles will obviously have higher growth rates than those that are more mature.

2) Seasonality is a factor, just like in the offline retail world. People take vacations and spend their free time outside during summer. We'll wait another few quarters before proclaiming Amazon's growth dead. After all, Christmas is around the corner, and it's a fairly safe bet that Amazon will be a very busy site in a few months.

3) Early last summer Amazon added music. This essentially doubled Amazon's retail categories since the company was only peddling books before then. This year's second quarter only found the company adding auctions, one category addition on top of a base of three. (Amazon has since added toys and electronics, giving it a total of six retail categories.)

4) It's easy to selectively pick numbers.

Amazon                1996    1997     1998     1999
2nd quarter revenue  2,230  27,855  115,982  314,377 
($ thousands)
Either way, one negative story won't shake our faith in Amazon. (Did you ever wonder why these Amazon.bomb type stories always seem to bash the company over the weekend, nailing the stock on Mondays?) For further interactive discussion about anything Amazon, there's always the company's message board available.

And in case you didn't get a chance to listen to the Fool Radio program this week, you can still listen to it online. Last weekend's show had an interview with none other than Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos.

The only other salient news today, and I hesitate to call it "salient," came from eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY). The company announced today that it was expanding its offerings in the automotive category. The auction site will now host a wide variety of subcategories relating to collectable cars. Not exactly earthshaking news, but further proof that just about anything can be bought and sold at eBay. For its part and for whatever reason, eBay was down $7 13/16 to close at $119 7/16.

Have you taken a vacation this summer? Taken time to get away from CNBC, real-time quotes, and even Foolish commentary? Lots of Fools have been hitting the road or flying away the past few weeks, which is an endeavor we highly recommend. Some of last week's Rule Breaker columns touched on the importance of taking time off, including Jeff's short missive about doing something (anything!) except chronically worrying about interest rates and Greenspan. There was also Louis Corrigan's excellent column about what he learned while hitting the road last week.

Enjoy the last (unofficial) week of summer, and Fool on!

-Paul Larson






Rule Breaker Portfolio

8/30/99 Closing Numbers
Ticker Company Dly Pr Chg Price
AMGNAMGEN INC5/16$80.94
AMZNAMAZON.COM-9 1/4$119.25
AOLAMERICA ONLINE-5 7/8$93.25
ATHMAT HOME CORP CL A1$41.50
CATCATERPILLAR INC-2 1/8$59.50
CHVCHEVRON CORP-1 7/16$91.31
DDDU PONT (EI) DE NEMOURS-1 11/16$66.06
DJTTRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RES-5/16$4.25
EBAYEBAY INC-7 13/16$119.44
GTGOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO-13/16$53.56
IOMIOMEGA CORP-1/8$3.38
SBUXSTARBUCKS CORP-1 5/8$22.13
TDFX3DFX INTERACTIVE1/16$11.06

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
Since
8/5/94
Annualized
Rule Breaker -4.71% -4.71% 3.31% 15.02% 1,056.61% 62.06%
S&P 500 -1.80% -1.80% -.35% 7.71% 188.84% 23.27%
S&P 500(DA) -1.72% -1.72% -.34% 7.92% 203.09% 24.44%
NASDAQ -1.67% -1.67% 2.81% 23.72% 276.67% 29.89%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg
8/5/942200AOL0.917$93.2510,067.92%
9/9/971320AMZN6.375$119.251,770.58%
5/17/951960IOM1.280$3.38163.59%
12/16/98580AMGN42.889$80.9488.71%
4/30/97-1170DJT8.469$4.2549.81%
12/4/98900ATHM28.040$41.5048.00%
2/23/99300CAT46.964$59.5026.69%
2/26/99300EBAY100.527$119.4418.81%
2/23/99180CHV79.169$91.3115.34%
2/20/98260DD58.844$66.0612.27%
2/23/99290GT48.715$53.569.95%
7/2/98470SBUX27.955$22.13-20.85%
1/8/98425TDFX25.667$11.06-56.90%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
8/5/942200AOL$2,017.62$205,150.00$203,132.40
9/9/971320AMZN$8,415.03$157,410.00$148,995.00
12/16/98580AMGN$24,875.50$46,943.75$22,068.25
12/4/98900ATHM$25,236.13$37,350.00$12,113.88
2/26/99300EBAY$30,158.00$35,831.25$5,673.25
4/30/97-1170DJT($9,908.16)($4,972.50)$4,935.66
5/17/951960IOM$2,509.63$6,615.00$4,105.37
2/23/99300CAT$14,089.25$17,850.00$3,760.75
2/23/99180CHV$14,250.50$16,436.25$2,185.75
2/20/98260DD$15,299.44$17,176.25$1,876.81
2/23/99290GT$14,127.38$15,533.13$1,405.75
7/2/98470SBUX$13,138.63$10,398.75($2,739.88)
1/8/98425TDFX$10,908.63$4,701.56($6,207.06)
  Cash: $11,675.98  
  Total: $578,099.40  



Note
The Fool Portfolio was launched on August 5, 1994, with $50,000. It was renamed the Rule Breaker Portfolio in October 1998. The investing strategy began with the first investments of the Fool Port and has evolved with time and experience. In July 2001, the portfolio began adding $12,500 each quarter (We missed Jan. 2002, so we added $25,000 in April 2002). We skip a quarter if we have enough uninvested cash or cash available in stocks we would prefer to sell to make new investments. All transactions are shared and explained publicly before being made, and returns are compared in each week's column to the S&P 500 (including dividends where noted) and the Nasdaq composite. For a history of all transactions, please click here.