Rule Breaker Portfolio

Rule Breaker Portfolio
Yankees Thrive, Amazon Dives

By Barbara Eisner Bayer (TMF Venus)

WOODSTOCK, NY (October 28, 1999) -- With only a peep from the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees added another notch to their century-long dominance of baseball by putting an end to the championship hopes of the cocky National Leaguers.

The Bronx Bombers have broken lots of rules while achieving their unprecedented record of 25 World Series titles and 36 American League pennants in the last 78 years. They are clearly the TOP DOG in an important industry. SUSTAINABLE ADVANTAGE has been gained through VISIONARY LEADERSHIP.

George Steinbrenner broke the rules by being the first owner to enter into free agency in a big way at a time when standard procedure was not to overpay a player. While his management style has been somewhat erratic -- he did fire and rehire Billy Martin as his manager five times -- there is no doubt he has provided smart and ample backing. Plus, past management has made its mark over the last 78 years by investing in an impressive, if expensive, scouting system. Then there's former manager Casey Stengel, who is largely credited with developing the platoon system. (Not only did he break the rules of baseball, but most of the rules of the English language as well.)

STRONG PAST PRICE APPRECIATION is shown through the Yankees' 1-year sales growth of 21.3% and the ever-escalating price of a game ticket. And if you've been to the ballpark lately, the current prices of a hot dog will surely guarantee hefty profits in the future.

With their unforgettable pinstripes, their CONSUMER BRAND is as strong as ever. Plus, their $70 million payroll has millions shouting OVERPRICED, OVERVALUED.

I therefore present to you the ultimate Rule Breaker -- The New York Yankees!

In all honesty, they are more likely Rule Makers by now; but their history is exemplary of the path a Breaker takes before it's transformed into a Maker. Just look at the rules that were broken along the way to superpower baseball dominance:

- Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games, broke the rule that players should take days off more frequently than once every 14 years.

- The Babe, known for ingesting enormous quantities of junk food before playing, broke the rule that one should be fit and healthy to succeed as a player.

- Mickey Mantle, who caroused late into the night, only to blast home runs the next afternoon.

- Yogi Berra, who rewrote the rules of logic.

Bear in mind that the Yankees weren't always on top and struggled quite a bit before they blossomed into their most recent dominance. From 1965-1967, valiant efforts could not produce a winning season. But did Yankee fans give up on their team as they struggled to work out the kinks that were temporarily setting them back? NO WAY -- because Yankee fans are long-term!

Keep this in mind when looking at the growing pains of Rule Breaker Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), which fell $4 15/16 to 71 today. Nothing has happened outside of management's master plan. Many investors, however, are getting impatient with the company's inability to turn profits, even though those profits were always indicated to be unrealized until the future. After all, long-term means long-term; not now, not next quarter, not next season. With Amazon expecting a profitable fourth quarter from book sales, there's plenty that long-term Fools can happily anticipate going forward.

There has been speculation about Bezos' conference call comments regarding Amazon's intention not to renew some portal relationships once they expire. Apparently, ad stream isn't as important as once thought. Bezos may be rethinking portal relationships that aren't returning adequately on the investment. After all, he didn't say "all" portal relationships -- just "some."

Maybe Amazon is tired of spewing cash. For companies with a lesser Internet presence, advertising on other portals could be a giant boon. Amazon's name is so well known, it's possible the value of its advertising dollar doesn't go very far. Right now, word of mouth and brand recognition are attracting enough new members to Amazon. What's the point of selling to an audience you've already captured?

Take a lesson from the Yankees. Total market dominance takes a long time and there's gonna be some ups and downs. Hop on the "D" Train to Yankee Stadium and keep your eyes focused on the vision. Just make sure you know where your wallet is at all times.

[Red Sox Fan Editor's Note: The Motley Fool does not condone such ranting about the Yankees. Cheer your sports teams and stocks at your own risk. And to find out why the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in this year's ALCS, see "The Ghost of the Bambino" in the Fool's Halloween Special.]






Rule Breaker Portfolio

10/28/99 Closing Numbers
Ticker Company Dly Pr Chg Price
AMGNAMGEN INC11/16$78.38
AMZNAMAZON.COM-4 15/16$71.00
AOLAMERICA ONLINE7/8$126.50
ATHMAT HOME CORP CL A3/16$37.13
CATCATERPILLAR INC-5/8$54.75
CHVCHEVRON CORPUnch.$89.88
DDDU PONT (EI) DE NEMOURS1/4$63.94
EBAYEBAY INC-2 1/2$136.19
GTGOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO-3/16$40.13
IOMIOMEGA CORPUnch.$3.06
SBUXSTARBUCKS CORP1/8$26.00
TDFX3DFX INTERACTIVE7/32$8.91

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
Since
8/5/94
Annualized
Rule Breaker .52% -1.85% 2.70% 34.16% 1,249.06% 64.43%
S&P 500 3.53% 3.13% 4.66% 9.21% 192.85% 22.80%
S&P 500(DA) 3.53% 3.13% 4.66% 9.79% 207.11% 23.92%
NASDAQ 2.59% 2.08% 4.70% 31.13% 299.24% 30.29%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg
8/5/942200AOL0.917$126.5013,693.48%
9/9/972640AMZN3.188$71.002,127.44%
5/17/951960IOM1.280$3.06139.18%
12/16/98580AMGN42.889$78.3882.74%
2/26/99300EBAY100.527$136.1935.47%
12/4/98900ATHM28.040$37.1332.40%
2/23/99300CAT46.964$54.7516.58%
2/23/99180CHV79.169$89.8813.52%
2/20/98260DD58.844$63.948.66%
7/2/98470SBUX27.955$26.00-6.99%
2/23/99290GT48.715$40.13-17.63%
1/8/98425TDFX25.667$8.91-65.30%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
8/5/942200AOL$2,017.62$278,300.00$276,282.40
9/9/972640AMZN$8,415.03$187,440.00$179,025.00
12/16/98580AMGN$24,875.50$45,457.50$20,582.00
2/26/99300EBAY$30,158.00$40,856.25$10,698.25
12/4/98900ATHM$25,236.13$33,412.50$8,176.38
5/17/951960IOM$2,509.63$6,002.50$3,492.87
2/23/99300CAT$14,089.25$16,425.00$2,335.75
2/23/99180CHV$14,250.50$16,177.50$1,927.00
2/20/98260DD$15,299.44$16,623.75$1,324.31
7/2/98470SBUX$13,138.63$12,220.00($918.63)
2/23/99290GT$14,127.38$11,636.25($2,491.13)
1/8/98425TDFX$10,908.63$3,785.16($7,123.47)
  Cash: $5,954.23  
  Total: $674,290.60  



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.