Boring Portfolio

Boring Portfolio Report
Wednesday, March 04, 1998
by Greg Markus (

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (March 4, 1998) -- A 46-point loss on Wednesday stopped the Dow's record-setting streak at five. The S&P 500 lost 0.45%, but the Nasdaq eked out a 0.15% gain thanks to strength in semiconductor issues.

That strength may be short-lived, however, as bellwether Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) trimmed its guidance for the company's first-quarter results after the closing bell.

The Boring Portfolio eased 0.10%, owing mostly to a $1 1/8 loss in shares of Carlisle Companies (NYSE: CSL). Carlisle's is a relatively thinly traded issue, and the stock price occasionally makes moves of a point or more simply because a few small trades happen to fall together on the sell (or buy) side on a given day.

Today, for example, total trading volume in CSL was only 27,300 shares -- less than half the stock's typical trading, uh, activity. So no big whoop.

Three big whoops for Borders Group (NYSE: BGP), though. The stock established a new all-time high today, getting as high as $34 1/2 at one point in the session, and has officially tripled in value since joining the Borefolio on Feb. 28, 1996.

Borders is slated to report its fourth quarter results next week. As always, we'll be covering the follow-up conference call.

Borefolio regulars are aware that my partner Mark Weaver and I have been developing a "wish list" of stocks that are suitable candidates for addition to the Borefolio. In keeping with our investing philosophy, we look first for high-quality, well-managed companies that offer solid prospects for above-average sales and earnings growth over at least the next couple of years, and then we look to purchase shares of these companies when they are trading at reasonable valuations.

One company I've kept an eye on for a few years is Thermo Electron (NYSE: TMO). Some folks have described Thermo Electron, founded in 1956 by Dr. George Hatsopoulos, an MIT researcher and professor of mechanical engineering, as sort of a mini-mutual fund. That's because the company's operating strategy is to develop and spin out technologically-driven subsidiaries that offer a broad range of useful products and services.

Altogether, Thermo Electron holds a majority interest in 22 publicly traded companies, in fields as diverse as paper-making equipment, explosives detection, and implantable cardiac devices.

Thermo's track record of bringing technologies from the lab to the marketplace has few peers. The company's spinout strategy has allowed it to nurture a unique, entrepreneurial climate that allows employees to pursue their own ideas and develop profitable new businesses.

Thermo Electron reported its 1997 fourth-quarter and full-year results today. For the fourth quarter, revenues increased 27% to slightly over $1 billion, and diluted EPS increased 25% to $0.40, beating the consensus estimate of analysts by a penny.

According to First Call, analysts are looking for earnings to increase by approximately 22% this year, to $1.75 a share.

With its many moving parts and technological focus, Thermo Electron is not an easy company to understand. But it may well be worth the effort. Thermo’s informative website is a good place to start.

As we conduct our due diligence, we'll keep you posted. And if you have views about "Poppa Thermo," we'd very much like to hear from you.

FoolWatch -- It's what's going on at the Fool today.

Stock  Change    Bid 
 ANDW  -  1/16  27.75 
 CGO   +  1/16  29.69 
 BGP   +  1/2   34.00 
 CSL   -1 1/8   47.19 
 CSCO  +  3/4   65.19 
 FCH   -  3/4   35.38 
                   Day   Month    Year  History 
          BORING   -0.10%  -0.26%   0.26%  26.15% 
         S&P:     -0.45%  -0.19%   7.92%  68.48% 
         NASDAQ:  +0.15%  -0.61%  12.06%  69.05% 
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr    11.26     34.00   202.06% 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst    35.93     65.19    81.41% 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     47.19    79.25% 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     29.69    28.75% 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor    26.09     27.75     6.36% 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui    37.59     35.38    -5.89% 
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr  4502.49  13600.00  $9097.51 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst  5389.99   9778.13  $4388.14 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   9437.50  $4172.51 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   4453.13   $994.39 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor  5218.00   5550.00   $332.00 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui  7518.00   7075.00  -$443.00 
                              CASH  $13182.97 
                             TOTAL  $63076.72