Boring Portfolio

Boring Portfolio Report
Wednesday, July 23, 1997
by Greg Markus (TMFBoring)


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (July 23, 1997) -- Tonight I'm not going to write about how the Boring Portfolio gained 1.20% to cross the $70,000 mark and establish a new high.

Nor am I going to mention that three Borefolio holdings -- CARLISLE COMPANIES (NYSE: CSL), CISCO SYSTEMS (Nasdaq: CSCO), and GREEN TREE FINANCIAL (NYSE: GNT) established record highs of their own.

Nor will I tell you that two analysts raised their recommendations on TIDEWATER (NYSE: TDW) following the company's blowout earnings report yesterday. If you want to know more about that, you can always head over to the Conference Calls section of The Motley Fool.

Let's also pass over the fact that PRIME MEDICAL SERVICES (Nasdaq: PMSI) and ATLAS AIR (Nasdaq: ATLS) will report their quarterly results tomorrow and that TMF will cover those companies' conference calls, as well.

Instead, I'm going to devote all of tonight's Borefolio recap to conclude the three-part "Orasun vs. Wintel" commentary about the Network Computer Architecture, or NCA, and its centrality to ORACLE's (Nasdaq: ORCL) long-term business strategy.

The first two parts of "Orasun" were based largely on posts in the Oracle message folder at The Motley Fool's AOL site. They pretty well delineated what Oracle's NCA initiative is not: it's not merely a "vanity" project for Larry Ellison; it's not an effort to replace the Wintel paradigm (but rather to offer an alternative that can be used where it makes sense); and it's not an sign that Oracle intends to move into the hardware business, cranking out "thin clients" to sell at Walmart.

Software industry expert and early Oracle employee Bob Sutton offers three more things NCA is not. "It's not a religion, it's not an affront to personal liberty, and it's not a distraction from the primary mission of the Oracle Corporation," says Sutton.

Fine. So what is NCA then? And equally important from the perspective of the individual investor, how does Oracle -- and thereby its shareholders -- expect to make a buck off it?

As I see it, NCA is an effort by Oracle to break out of its database niche and to be seen as a full-service information technology partner to corporations, small businesses, and possibly even individuals. NCA is also a central element of a strategy to fend of MICROSOFT's (Nasdaq: MSFT) invasion of the enterprise domain with Windows NT and related products.

Oracle speaks of NCA as providing "a cross-platform, standards-based environment for developing and deploying network-centric applications that link people and companies. In contrast with the PC-centric computing model that focuses on independent users and computation, Network Computing Architecture recognizes the increasing importance of Web servers, database servers and application servers working together to enhance communication and deliver a wide array of information on demand."

Furthermore, "Network Computing Architecture is the productization of Oracle's vision for network computing, and will help companies protect their technology investments by allowing mainframes, client/server, Internet and intranets, and distributed object software to work together."

Oh.

As you work your way through Oracle's official statement on NCA, navigating past phrases like "the productization of Oracle's vision," down near the bottom line comes the bottom line:

"All of Oracle's products, from the core Oracle8 database to Oracle's wide array of development tools and packaged enterprise applications, will support this architecture." Developer kits developed by third parties "will extend the platform's benefits to customers and partners."

In other words, as a recent story by Michael Kanellos on Cnet put it, "With the network computer, the people of the world will no longer have to pay Bill Gates billions of dollars." Instead, they will pay Larry Ellison, and Oracle.

As Ellison told an audience newspaper professionals meeting in San Francisco recently, NCA offers low cost hardware and virtually costless operating systems for businesses. Instead, "what they will pay for is support" -- from Oracle, of course. Not to mention the costs of all those centrally located Oracle databases and applications.

So perhaps when businesses hear "thin client" they should think "fat server." Or, to extend the dieting metaphor, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

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(c) Copyright 1997, The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination, including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of The Motley Fool.


TODAY'S NUMBERS
Stock  Change    Bid
ATLS  -  1/2   22.63
BGP   +  5/16  25.81
CSL   +  3/4   40.25
CSCO  +1 9/16  80.38
GNT   +2 1/2   44.50
ORCL  -  3/16  56.63
OXHP  +  1/2   85.25
PMSI  -  1/8   11.75
TDW   -1 1/16  48.19
                   Day   Month    Year  History
        BORING   +1.20%   9.27%  22.19%  40.61%
        S&P:     +0.28%   5.81%  26.44%  50.66%
        NASDAQ:  +0.24%   8.71%  21.43%  50.60%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change
  2/28/96  400 Borders Gr    11.26     25.81   129.32%
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea    48.02     85.25    77.51%
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     40.25    52.90%
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst    53.90     80.38    49.12%
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree    30.39     44.50    46.44%
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi    10.07     11.75    16.70%
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor    48.65     56.63    16.39%
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater     46.52     48.19     3.57%
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     22.63    -1.88%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change
  2/28/96  400 Borders Gr  4502.49  10325.00  $5822.51
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea  4802.49   8525.00  $3722.51
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree  6077.49   8900.00  $2822.51
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   8050.00  $2785.01
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst  5389.99   8037.50  $2647.51
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor  4864.99   5662.50   $797.51
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi  4027.49   4700.00   $672.51
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater   4652.49   4818.75   $166.26
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   3393.75   -$64.99

                             CASH   $7890.00
                            TOTAL  $70302.50