Boring Portfolio

Boring Portfolio Report
Wednesday, March 12, 1997
by Greg Markus (MF Boring)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (March 12, 1997) -- I've decided to program one of the function keys in my word processing application so that whenever I press the key, it automatically spits out "The Dow Jones Industrial Average fared best in today's trading, with the S&P 500 second, and the Nasdaq Composite third."

Better yet, we can all do as in that old story about the comedians who knew each others jokes so well that all they had to do was recite the number of the joke and the others laughed. So if I simply started the evening recap with "Outcome #1," you'd know that meant "Dow first, S&P second, Naz third."

Okay, here goes:

It was Outcome #1 for stocks today. Meanwhile, the Boring Portfolio fell one percent in net value. Losers outnumbered gainers five to four, with one stock -- TIDEWATER (NYSE: TDW) --unchanged.

ATLAS AIR (Nasdaq: ATLS) did its part to put some life into the Borefolio, rising $3/8. PRIME MEDICAL (Nasdaq: PMSI) gained $1/8 following trading on Tuesday that saw more than 700,000 PMSI shares change hands -- even if some of those hands were merely those of Nasdaq market makers. SOLECTRON (NYSE: SLR) rebounded from recent weakness, rising $1 3/4 despite a strong headwind working against tech stocks.

BORDERS GROUP (NYSE: BGP) rounded out today's winners, picking up a quarter-point following yesterday's sell-off. In last night's recap, I hypothesized that Tuesday's selling was probably prompted in part by the less than deft explanation by management of an arcane change in accounting rules that resulted in a minor reduction (less than 1%) in the count of BGP shares and share-equivalents. That explanation occurred right around 11:30 am EST, so I requested that anyone with a chart of intra-day trading take a look to see what it showed around that time.

A number of folks pointed me to some Websites that provide such charts, so I checked it out myself. Sure enough, the chart of trading in BGP looks like the profile of the cliffs at Black's Beach in La Jolla, with the edge of the cliff located almost precisely at 11:35 am. This is of absolutely no substantive significance, but I thought it was an interesting insight into the mischief that these conference calls can sometimes create.

CISCO SYSTEMS (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell $1 3/4 to lead the Nasdaq lower. Cisco, Intel and Microsoft held a joint press conference today to say they had joined forces to promote multimedia communication over computer networks.

The three companies will support a set of standards that are intended to make it easier to do video teleconferencing, voice communications, real-time collaboration on documents at a distance, and other such tasks over the Internet and enterprise intranets. The standards include:

-- IP Multicast, which reduces network traffic congestion by sending one copy of a computer document to multiple recipients over a network.

-- The H.323 standard for sharing audio and video data over computer networks.

-- RSVP, a protocol enabling networks to give priority to certain types of streamed data transmissions (such as voice and real-time video) over the Internet.

I personally think this is very neat stuff -- the kind of stuff that regular folks from salesmen to schoolkids can use. Analysts in the trade were apparently unimpressed, though. Oh, well.

Finally tonight, ORACLE CORP. (Nasdaq: ORCL) pumped out a slew of press releases today about various projects, proto-projects, crypto-projects, and might-be projects in which they're engaged -- all of which had zero impact on traders who decided to exit the stock ahead of the company's quarterly earnings report tomorrow, after the close of the market. The Motley Fool will cover the post-game -- er, post-report -- conference call.

Until then, Aloha.

(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  +  3/8   23.88
BGP   +  1/8   42.13
CSL   -1 1/8   30.88
CSCO  -1 3/4   50.88
GNT   -1       38.00
ORCL  -1 1/2   34.13
OXHP  -  5/8   65.25
PMSI  +  1/8   11.00
SLR   +1 3/4   49.00
TDW   ---      44.75
                   Day   Month    Year  History
        BORING   -1.01%  -0.62%  -0.64%  14.34%
        S&P:     -0.87%   1.70%   8.58%  29.38%
        NASDAQ:  -0.96%  -0.37%   1.02%  25.28%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change

  2/28/96  200 Borders Gr    22.51     42.13    87.12%
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea    48.02     65.25    35.87%
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree    30.39     38.00    25.05%
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     30.88    17.28%
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi    10.07     11.00     9.25%
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     23.88     3.54%
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst    53.90     50.88    -5.61%
 10/15/96  100 Solectron     54.52     49.00   -10.13%
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor    48.65     34.13   -29.86%
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater     46.52     44.00    -5.43%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change
  2/28/96  200 Borders Gr  4502.49   8425.00  $3922.51
  5/24/96  100 Oxford Hea  4802.49   6525.00  $1722.51
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree  6077.49   7600.00  $1522.51
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   6175.00   $910.01
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi  4027.49   4400.00   $372.51
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   3581.25   $122.51
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst  5389.99   5087.50  -$302.49
 11/21/96  100 Oracle Cor  4864.99   3412.50 -$1452.49
 10/15/96  100 Solectron   5452.49   4900.00  -$552.49
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater   4652.49   4400.00  -$252.49

                             CASH   $2662.96
                            TOTAL  $57169.21