Boring Portfolio

Boring Portfolio Report
Monday, January 20, 1997
by Greg Markus (MF Boring)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Jan. 20) -- The Boring Portfolio marked the occasion of President William Jefferson Clinton's inauguration and the official celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday with a special event of its own: a new record.

The Borefolio increased by $450 in net value (+0.76%) on Monday to establish a new high-water mark at $59,936.58. The old record, $59,870.94, was established on Nov. 29, 1996 -- the Friday following Thanksgiving. I recall that day vividly, because at the time I was pedaling a beach cruiser bike around the island of Aruba without a care in the world, as MF Czar minded portfolio matters.

Green Tree Financial (NYSE: GNT) grew another $2 1/8 today, following Friday's $ 1 1/8 gain. Trading volume for each session was well in excess of one million shares. Green Tree will report quarterly earnings one week from today (Jan. 27).

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) matched Green Tree's advance with a $2 1/8 spurt of its own, establishing another record high, at $74 3/4. Cisco announced today the introduction of the Cisco 770 series of ISDN routers, specifically aimed at the SOHO (small office / home office) market. According to the company press release, the Cisco 770 series is comprised of four new models, with prices starting at $799. All include an integrated four port Ethernet hub and a call connect/disconnect switch. The two upper-end models include two analog interfaces that permit standard telephones, fax machines and modems to share a single ISDN line.

Cisco claims these routers can be installed and configured "in a matter of minutes" using the included one-page installation guide. "To simplify the out of box experience, all cables and ports will be color-coded and simple installation instructions will also be printed on the outside of the box."

The out of box experience? Man, only in California could you get away with writing copy like that -- and maybe not even there.

Tidewater (NYSE: TDW) rose a quarter-point in advance of the company's quarterly earnings report tomorrow morning. I'll be covering the conference call and will report details right here.

On the down side, shares of Oxford Health Plans (Nasdaq: OXHP) lost $1 3/8, presumably on continuing concern among some investors about what impact proposed cutbacks in federal Medicare and Medicaid programs might have upon the company. Still no official comment from the company, as far as I can discern.

Finally, as I read the stories in the newspaper today about Dr. King and his legacy, I got to thinking about my own memories of the man and his times. Being a bit older than most (but not all) Motley Fools, I actually have memories of the 1960s -- and even the 1950s. I hope you'll indulge me while I share a few here.

My father was a career sailor, a submariner. Growing up, I attended schools near many of the major naval bases in the United States, including some in the South. One such place I remember well, and fondly, was Charleston, South Carolina.

When I lived in Charleston in the early 1960s, it was a thoroughly racially segregated place, of course. Attending the public schools there at the time, one would never have realized that nearly a decade had passed since the U.S. Supreme Court had declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional and that integration must proceed "with all deliberate speed." The Charleston schools remained 100 percent segregated. And in the first four years that I lived in the city, I neither met nor spoke with -- nor scarcely even saw -- a black child.

I'd like to say that I found this situation disturbing, but the truth is, I did not -- nor apparently did anyone else around me. It wasn't as if the white children I knew in Charleston (or I, for that matter) felt hateful or fearful toward black folks. Rather, we were utterly ignorant of the descendants of Africans who were brought to Charleston harbor in slave ships -- and who in the 1960s lived in legally sanctioned second-class status a few blocks away from where my friends and I played. To us, they simply did not exist.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and thousands of people he inspired to ear I began the 10th grade. Only a handful of black students attended CHS that year, but it was a beginning. We white students prided ourselves on being young ladies and gentlemen, so there would be no jeering or violence at our school. But there was scant feeling of fellowship toward the new students, either.

The most prominent emotion, as I recall, was not animosity, but curiosity. Who were these black students? Why did they want to come to this school? Was there anything we might possibly have in common? Should I talk to them? Would they speak to me?

I'll never know what those young African American pioneers were thinking when, with dignity and courage, they came to Charleston High School and chipped away from their side at the wall that separated us. I never got up the nerve to ask them before my family was transferred to another city partway through the term.

In the thirty-odd years since those days in Charleston, much has changed for the better in the ways that Americans of all races think and act toward one another. For this, we thank Dr. King. In some ways, though, the feelings and questions of Americans today remain not much different from those of my Charleston friends and me in 1963. For that, we must look to ourselves.

Today's Numbers

Stock  Change    Bid
BGP   -  1/4   36.25
CSL   -  3/8   31.25
CSCO  +2 1/8   74.75
GNT   +2 1/8   39.00
ORCL  +1 1/4   42.63
OXHP  -1 3/8   53.13
PMSI  -  1/8   11.50
SLR   -  1/4   58.75
TDW   +  1/4   51.13
                   Day   Month    Year  History
        BORING   +0.76%   4.17%   4.17%  19.87%
        S&P 500  +0.07%   4.85%   4.85%  24.95%
        NASDAQ:  +1.13%   5.68%   5.68%  31.06%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change

  2/28/96  200 Borders Gr    22.51     36.25    61.02%
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst    53.90     74.75    38.68%
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree    30.39     39.00    28.34%
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     31.25    18.71%
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi    10.07     11.50    14.22%
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea    48.02     53.13    10.62%
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater     46.52     51.13     9.89%
 10/15/96  100 Solectron     54.52     58.75     7.75%
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor    48.65     42.63   -12.38%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change

  2/28/96  200 Borders Gr  4502.49   7250.00  $2747.51
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst  5389.99   7475.00  $2085.01
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree  6077.49   7800.00  $1722.51
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   6250.00   $985.01
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi  4027.49   4600.00   $572.51
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea  4802.49   5312.50   $510.01
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater   4652.49   5112.50   $460.01
 10/15/96  100 Solectron   5452.49   5875.00   $422.51
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor  4864.99   4262.50  -$602.49

                             CASH   $5999.08
                            TOTAL  $59936.58

Transmitted: 1/20/97