Boring Portfolio

Fake Press Releases
...and storms rain out Greg's column
By Jeff Fischer
(JeffF@fool.com)

ALEXANDRIA, VA (July 21, 1998) -- The amount of "noise" on the Internet surrounding well-known public companies can boggle one's mind. Checking the news on Cisco Systems for a single day spits back dozens of articles, many of which have little to do with Cisco. Instead, the small companies issuing the press releases in question want people to read about it, so they simply mention Cisco -- in some small relation or none at all -- and then every Cisco news search lifts the small company's press release from relative obscurity into the mainstream investing public.

It's logical for small companies to do this, though somewhat lame, and, of more significance, it clutters a Foolish investors' day. One solution for Boring investors who like to check their companies' progress every week, every month, or however often, is to simply visit the various company websites. Nearly all large public companies now offer a home page, and the investor relations departments on these sites provide all of the relevant news from the past months in logical order -- as well as, usually, mountains of other useful information. If any of your companies don't have websites yet, call their investor relations departments and ask, "Why not?"

So, how did this topic come about?

I quickly searched Boring Port stocks for news this evening after Greg Markus phoned from Michigan to report that a storm had taken down the power and phone lines (he called from a cellular phone) just as he was about to email his Bore column for the day. He no longer had means to sign on, let alone a column to send, thus... you're now reading this column instead. Hopefully all is well at Greg's home. Through the wind, he was yelling about falling trees and whatnot. But -- my partial joking aside -- he did say that he was safe.

As Greg would have reported, the Bore Port declined with the volatile market today. The S&P ended 1.61% lower by the market's close, and Boring lost 1.63%. There was little news on the portfolio's stocks, despite a dozen articles that mentioned some of our company names in a scarcely related way. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) was the company mentioned most often by these press release "clingers to fame." With the stock up nearly 100% since December, it's no wonder it is drawing attention.

Even after the sharp rise in price, Cisco currently trades at 46 times 1999 earnings estimates of $2.16 per share. The company has a five-year estimated growth rate of nearly 31% annually, arguably putting the equity at a realistic premium to the growth rate when considering Cisco's market leadership and the company's technology lockdown.

The only real news release today came from Atlas Air (NYSE: CGO). The company announced a multi-year contract with Colombian carrier LAS. Atlas is dishing an additional Boeing 747 to a consortium of companies led by LAS. Greg and Mark have discussed Atlas' aircraft initiatives in detail over the past months.

To close with something incredibly helpful: For earnings estimates, complete financial snapshots, all SEC documents, and more, check out the Fool's new Fool Quote features on its website at www.fool.com. In the top-left corner of most Fool Web pages, simply enter a ticker symbol and give it a whirl. The information offered all in one place is extremely useful, Foolish, convenient -- in a word, excellent.

Fool on!

--Jeff Fischer

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


07/21/98 Close

Stock  Change    Bid 
 ANDW  -  7/16  17.94 
 CGO   -  3/16  36.81 
 BGP   +  1/16  37.75 
 CSL   -  3/16  47.00 
 CSCO  -4 5/16  98.88 
 FCH   -  15/16 29.81 
 PNR   -1 9/16  40.19 
 TBY     ---    8.56 
 
                   Day   Month    Year  History 
         BORING   -1.63%   2.70%   7.09%  34.75% 
         S&P:     -1.61%   2.75%  20.06%  87.42% 
         NASDAQ:  -1.74%   4.45%  26.03%  90.13% 
  
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr    11.26     37.75   235.37% 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst    35.93     98.88   175.16% 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     47.00    78.54% 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     36.81    59.65% 
   4/14/98  100 Pentair       43.74     40.19    -8.13% 
   5/20/98  400 TCBY Enter    10.05      8.56   -14.76% 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui    37.59     29.81   -20.69% 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor    26.09     17.94   -31.25% 
  
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr  4502.49  15100.00 $10597.51 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst  5389.99  14831.25  $9441.26 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99   9400.00  $4135.01 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   5521.88  $2063.14 
   4/14/98  100 Pentair     4374.25   4018.75  -$355.50 
   5/20/98  400 TCBY Enter  4018.00   3425.00  -$593.00 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui  7518.00   5962.50 -$1555.50 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor  5218.00   3587.50 -$1630.50 
  
                              CASH   $5528.69 
                             TOTAL  $67375.57