Friday, June 12, 1998

Pfizer's Balance Sheet
by Phil Weiss

Towaco, NJ (June 12, 1998) -- This evening, your four writers here want to say thanks to all you Fools who helped the selection process along with their research on potential legal monopolists to add to our portfolio.

The contributions from so many different individuals and the offering up of such a broad selection of high-quality companies around the world was and is a wonder to behold. Truly. You helped define a new model for investing, a further extension of the sort of worldwide interactive assistance that we've been trying to foster since the launch of this forum.

In a way, though, it does feel kind of strange. We've always championed the idea of personal responsibility and doing your own research, but what's happened here? The opposite. We've asked you to do our research for us, and we're going to hold you all accountable if this stock tanks!

Aaa, not really -- I just wanted to promote my own brand of stand-up comedy there. In fact what has happened is team homework -- a simple model that most of our schools should've put into play long before the Internet was developed. It's a model every strong school will be employing in the decade ahead. Team Homework, not a series of isolated learning experiences, filling out bubbles with a pencil, looking out the window.

Yes, having all of you help us ties into so many of our basic principles here -- teamwork to get better research, teamwork to reduce the labor cost of investing, teamwork to thumb our noses at the Wise, teamwork to improve the whole of our financial circumstance (from buying a car to planning for retirement to getting started investing and beyond).

Ok, there were twenty-three companies nominated before the bell rang at midnight on Sunday closing the nominations. For a list of those companies, take a look back at a post I linked in yesterday from C-K Fool of the Week, DowDanny. The List of Cash-King Nominees shows the full compilation of nominations as well as the number of messages nominating the stock.

The information contained there will come in real handy as we review the potentials. To push the process along, before I left town last week, I submitted my Top 5 choices to my fellow writers. Then Al, Rob and Tom followed with theirs as well. We then decided, after that bright Fool in Austin, Texas suggested it, that we should carry out our debate in public. Between our four lists of five stocks, we had many more than five stocks. We had to narrow them down. Why do it out of view of you -- many of whom could teach us more about these companies and many of whom could learn a great deal from seeing the debate.

We couldn't pass on the idea to add even more interactivity to the selection process. So, yes, each of you can now join in on our discussion in the Web Cash-King Companies Folder. As a matter of fact, you can even try and use your magical powers of persuasion to sway us towards your favorites.

We'd like to get the process started a bit right here, so I'm going to let y'all in on which five stocks each of us individually selected as our personal finalists. This will help frame this weekend's debate.

Al Levit

Cisco, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Berkshire.

Phil Weiss

Cisco, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Tellabs, Medtronic.

Rob Landley

Cisco, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, and Berkshire.

Tom Gardner

Cisco, General Electric, Dell, Schering Plough, Louis Vitton.

Based on these lists, I'd say that there's almost no chance that Cisco and General Electric will NOT make the cut. Beyond that, Johnson & Johnson landed on three of our ballots. Dell Computer and Berkshire on two. And the handful of other companies on one -- Amgen, Louis Vitton, Medtronic, Schering Plough, and Tellabs.

Beyond General Electric and Cisco (and probably Johnson & Johnson) as shoe-ins to make the final vote, I'd say conversely that Berkshire will have a very tough time getting in. Why? Simply because a single share trades for more than the amount of cash available in our portfolio. One of those small frustrations in life -- not enough cash on hand. Now we could go on margin to buy some BRK.Bs. But that just isn't our style.

So we're stuck with having to make it our mission to outperform Berkshire shares going forward!

Ok, now how will this process of selecting the 8th Cash-King stock work? This weekend, the three of us will come to our final determinations about the five stocks to be included. Each of us will start by posting a short explanation of why we selected our five from the list of nominated stocks. Whether your favorites are included in these stocks or not, we hope you'll pitch in your ideas. I know that I could easily replace one or two of my stocks with another nomination. I'll bet Tom, Al and Rob feel the same way, too. Your voice still counts.

This weekend, with your help, we'll be narrowing our respective lists down to a final list of Five Cash-King Nominees. These finalists will then be announced during the day on Monday and reviewed in Monday night's CK report. Simultaneously, we'll subject our nominees to a Foolish public poll, linked into our mainscreen much of next week. In next Friday evening's report, we'll announce the winner of that Cash-King Poll -- victory, of course, being determined entirely by the voting results. Then the following week, we'll pick up our $2,000+ investment in that company.

We hope you'll participate throughout. For us, this experience will get added to a long list of Foolish doings that seem like radical approaches to investing by the Wall Street community. And you know that we love that. Here are a few examples:

1) The Motley Fool is a free forum in a world where financial advice can cost you hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in annual fees -- to say nothing of the cost of underperforming the market over time.

2) The Motley Fool has as its primary aim educating people across the globe about the basics of personal finance and investing -- in a world where no financial-services company has assembled a business model that champions customer scrutiny.

3) And now, The Motley Fool is looking to its community entirely, to the expertise of thousands, for guidance in selecting a company for its real-money portfolio. The same Jane and John Doe (sorry, that's you) that the financial industry doesn't think has the training or expertise to manage their own money will be helping to manage our money. We're comfortable with that, and always have been.

Fools, if you have any questions about how any of the Cash-King criteria have been determined, then you might want to review our 11 Steps to Cash-King Investing. Finally tonight, I did want to link in the three articles I wrote this week on Pfizer's financial statements for any who missed it.

1. Pfizer's Income Statement
2. Pfizer's Balance Sheet: Current Assets
3. Pfizer's Balance Sheet: Current Liabilities

Have a wonderfully, Foolish weekend.

Phil Weiss


Stock  Change    Bid 
 AXP   -1 5/16  102.75 
 CHV   +3 5/16  81.38 
 KO    +1       80.69 
 GPS   -  3/4   61.00 
 EK    +  7/16  69.81 
 XON   +1 1/4   69.31 
 GM    -  3/8   69.88 
 INTC  -  1/8   68.44 
 MSFT  +  3/8   85.69 
 PFE   +2 7/16  109.50 
 TROW  -1 1/8   33.88 
                  Day   Month    Year  History 
         C-K      +0.23%   1.09%   6.91%   6.91% 
         S&P:     +0.39%   0.74%   9.74%   9.74% 
         NASDAQ:  -0.28%  -1.91%   5.57%   5.57% 
 Cash-King Stocks 
     Rec'd    #  Security     In At       Now    Change 
     2/3/98   22 Pfizer        82.30    109.50    33.05% 
     5/1/98   37 Gap Inc.      51.09     61.00    19.40% 
    2/27/98   27 Coca-Cola     69.11     80.69    16.76% 
     2/3/98   24 Microsoft     78.27     85.69     9.48% 
     2/6/98   56 T. Rowe Pr    33.67     33.88     0.60% 
    5/26/98   18 American E   104.07    102.75    -1.27% 
    2/13/98   22 Intel         84.67     68.44   -19.18% 
 Foolish Four Stocks 
     Rec'd    #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
    3/12/98   20 Eastman Ko    63.15     69.81    10.55% 
    3/12/98   20 Exxon         64.34     69.31     7.74% 
    3/12/98   15 Chevron       83.34     81.38    -2.36% 
    3/12/98   17 General Mo    72.41     69.88    -3.49% 
 Cash-King Stocks 
     Rec'd    #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
     2/3/98   22 Pfizer      1810.58   2409.00   $598.42 
     5/1/98   37 Gap Inc.    1890.33   2257.00   $366.67 
    2/27/98   27 Coca-Cola   1865.89   2178.56   $312.67 
     2/3/98   24 Microsoft   1878.45   2056.50   $178.05 
     2/6/98   56 T. Rowe Pr  1885.70   1897.00    $11.30 
    5/26/98   18 American E  1873.20   1849.50   -$23.70 
    2/13/98   22 Intel       1862.83   1505.63  -$357.21 
 Foolish Four Stocks 
     Rec'd    #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
    3/12/98   20 Eastman Ko  1262.95   1396.25   $133.30 
    3/12/98   20 Exxon       1286.70   1386.25    $99.55 
    3/12/98   15 Chevron     1250.14   1220.63   -$29.52 
    3/12/98   17 General Mo  1230.89   1187.88   -$43.02 
                               CASH   $2037.63 
                              TOTAL  $21381.82 
 *The year for the S&P and Nasdaq will be as of 02/03/98