Boring Portfolio

Boring Portfolio Report
Monday, November 10, 1997
by Greg Markus (

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Nov. 10, 1997) -- Stocks drifted lower in relatively quiet trading on Monday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closing off about 0.7% each. The Boring Portfolio held its losses to half that amount percentage-wise, thanks to a strong showing by marine services leader Tidewater (NYSE: TDW).

Tidewater surged $2 5/8 in heavy trading to close at $68 11/16. I searched for news that might account for the gain but found nothing definitive.

Oil drilling and services stocks have been red hot much of this year, and the group has been the focus of many favorable stories in the press -- such as the one in today's issue of Investor's Business Daily. That story made no mention of Tidewater, however, so that's probably not the explanation for the stock's rise.

Whether they "ought to" or not, stocks of drillers and related services companies tend to react to short-term jiggles in the price of crude. And what with political unrest in the Middle East and economic turmoil in Asia, oil prices have displayed more movement lately than a Janet Jackson video. Futures prices on West Texas Intermediate dipped about 40-cents today, so that won't account Tidewater's rise, either.

A number of offshore drilling stocks rose Monday -- Transocean Offshore (NYSE: RIG), which reported strong quarterly results, being one such example. But others, such as Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), were down. And other marine services stocks -- Hvide Marine (Nasdaq: HMAR), Seacor Smit (NYSE: CKH), and Trico Marine (Nasdaq: TMAR) -- closed lower today, as well.

So... not that I'm one to look a gift tug in the bow or anything, but... how come the Tide's up?

One of the regulars in The Motley Fool's oilpatch community dropped me a note to say that Tidewater was featured in the New Orleans Times-Picayune today. I wasn't able to find the story online, but I kinda doubt that this alone was worth a 4% rise in Tidewater's market capitalization.

So I'm pretty much at a loss on this one. The only thing that occurs to me is this: Tidewater's being saying for a while now that they're interested in selling their slower growing business in natural gas compressors. Last month when the company reported its quarterly results, they said they expected to receive final offers from bidder's right about now.

As we've seen a few times already this year, it's tough to keep a secret in the "awl bidniss." So I suspect -- just suspect, mind you -- that somebody may have heard something about the sale of Tidewater's compression operations. I mention all this merely as a bit of idle speculation. We'll all find out soon enough, I suspect.

Other than a couple of fractional gains in Carlisle Companies (NYSE: CSL) and Prime Medical Services (Nasdaq: PMSI), the rest was pretty much downhill for the Boring Portfolio. Tech stocks tended to be among the weaker sectors Monday, and so it was in the Borefolio.

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell $1 3/4 despite news that the Kid had won a contract with Boeing (NYSE: BA) valued at up to $124 million to supply the aerospace giant with hardware and support as it builds out its intranet to link up more than 225,000 employees worldwide.

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) eased $3/8. There was no mention in Apple Computer's (Nasdaq: AAPL) public relations blitz today of a rumored partnership between Apple and Oracle.

Oracle did announce the beta-testing of Oracle Object Database Designer Release 1.0, however. This new (and much-needed) new product will help software geeks create and maintain applications that take advantage of the capabilities of Oracle8, the next-generation database product released earlier this year.

According to the press release, the new app development software is in beta "with customers worldwide," including Daimler Benz and the University of Sao Paulo Medical School Hospital.

Stock  Change    Bid
ATLS  -  1/4   27.63
BGP   -  1/8   28.94
CSL   +  3/16  44.56
CSCO  -1 3/4   81.75
FCH   -  5/8   36.63
GNT   -  3/4   43.19
ORCL  -  3/8   34.56
PMSI  +  1/8   13.00
TDW   +2 5/8   68.69
                   Day   Month    Year  History
        BORING   -0.35%   2.20%  20.00%  38.09%
        S&P:     -0.69%   0.71%  24.35%  48.18%
        NASDAQ:  -0.73%  -0.18%  23.21%  52.81%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change
  2/28/96  400 Borders Gr    11.26     28.94   157.08%
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     44.56    69.28%
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst    53.90     81.75    51.67%
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater     46.52     68.69    47.64%
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree    30.39     43.19    42.12%
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi    10.07     13.00    29.11%
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     27.63    19.81%
 11/21/96  150 Oracle Cor    32.43     34.56     6.56%
  11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui    37.59     36.63    -2.57%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change
  2/28/96  400 Borders Gr  4502.49  11575.00  $7072.51
  8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   8912.50  $3647.51
  6/26/96  100 Cisco Syst  5389.99   8175.00  $2785.01
   2/2/96  200 Green Tree  6077.49   8637.50  $2560.01
 12/23/96  100 Tidewater   4652.49   6868.75  $2216.26
   3/8/96  400 Prime Medi  4027.49   5200.00  $1172.51
   3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   4143.75   $685.01
 11/21/96  150 Oracle Cor  4864.99   5184.38   $319.39
  11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui  7518.00   7325.00  -$193.00

                             CASH   $3021.10
                            TOTAL  $69042.98