The Drip Port Club
Plus, Mellon enrollment ripening

by Jeff Fischer (TMFJeff)

ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 2, 1998) -- It's November 2, 1998. Do you know where your time went?

Me neither.

But at least we're not letting time and inflation eat into our savings -- instead, we're investing to beat inflation, beat the market, and beat whatever else you can beat with money alone.

Money is just one aspect of living, though, and certainly one of the less meaningful ones. That perspective in mind, the Drip Port gained ground with a stock market that's inching ever higher following summer blues -- or the Asian contagion. However, stock market volatility will never cease, it will only subside at times. Uncertainty is always one minute away. Foolish investors think long term.

Returning to our next study:

I'm reading through the message board posts that Fools everywhere shared on oil and gas companies, and as Brian's excellent columns discussed last week, we're moving toward formally beginning our study of the industry, focused on integrated oils and gas. This is going to be our most interactive study by far.

Already the Internet is being subverted (yes, subverted) into a form of one-way communication by too many websites and in too many written columns. Sure, oftentimes we do want to surf to CNN and simply read the news. But when it comes to investing your money, you're the one in the driver's seat. You're the one that should be changing gears, turning on the windshield wipers, opening the window, and filling up the tank.

Which brings us to our next request. I've received long e-mails from Fools (equivalent to one typical Drip Port column or more) explaining everything they know about the oil and gas sectors, often covering specific companies that they favor. I enjoy the e-mail, but it's time to share that knowledge with everyone.

We can all read this single column, but we gain only as much as the person writing it can share. Logically, as Brian pointed out, the combined knowledge of everyone reading this dwarfs what the column itself can provide. The best way to unlock all that knowledge is to ask you to share it on the message board. This will serve as part three to the beginning of our study. (The first part was asking you which industry you wanted to study, and the second part was asking which companies to study in that industry. Now, you're asked to share your knowledge of the industry and companies that you decided upon.)

We're still compiling a list of companies that we'll study next, but Brian provided the initial possibilities. Because this will take time, today I'm already asking everyone who has industry knowledge or company-specific knowledge to post it on the Web message board. Post it in the form of a Drip column, more or less. Share your knowledge, facts, and reasoning about the oil and gas industry and the companies in it that you know best. As the week progresses and the number of posts proliferate, we'll all learn (including Brian and me) and form a strong foundation on which to begin this study. Many of your posts, if not all of them, will be highlighted and linked to from this column this week. And we'll also summarize all of your thoughts here, too, giving credit where credit is due.

While you're doing this, it's fun to remember that this hasn't been done before. Like the Fool itself, this collective Drip Port work is like one of the first international "investment clubs" of its kind: a club gathering information from literally hundreds of Fools around the world for everyone to see, the information originating from Fools and professionals of all skills and vocations -- all in order to decide where to invest real money for the coming decades.

So to make this successful, please begin to post your knowledge of the oil and gas industry (most specifically) and the companies in it on the Drip Companies message board on the Web. Please title your post Our Foolish Study, so all Fools can reference it from the title alone. And if you don't have any knowledge of the industry, then you'll hopefully gain insight from these posts, knowing that you (similar to the Drip Port) have plenty to learn before you can invest in this industry.

Housekeepin' with Jefe. (Martha Stewart, you're forewarned.) This week we'll compile your slick knowledge after you post it and we'll share it. Also, by the end of the week we'll have the precise list of companies that we're studying next. If you still have company suggestions, please post them, too.

Being the first business day of a new month, today we added $100 to the humble but winning Drip Port. We also bought $40 worth of Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), and we'll buy $60 worth of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) on November 9.

Meanwhile, Mellon Bank (NYSE: MEL) shared in an interview that it isn't interested in being taken-over. Amusingly, the chairman of Mellon said, "Your customer is saying 'I want the right product at the right price delivered to me in the right way' and if you can't deliver the right product at the right price in the right way, you're not going to get the business. But your customer is not saying to you, 'I want you to be four times bigger than you already are.''' Mellon has also sold its merchant processing business. One thought is that the company might be moving to focus on more mutual fund businesses.

And finally, Dave Fish of The Moneypaper assures me that you can begin a DRP with Mellon with only one share under your belt; that stipulation is stated in the Mellon literature. Dividends are not reinvested until you own five shares, but you can enroll in the DRP with one share, so our enrollment is still in process. We received word last week that ChaseMellon has our one share in safekeeping.

Again, please share your thoughts on the board this week (that board should be gushing with info), and see you tomorrow!

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

11/02/98 Close

Stock Close Change CPB 56 +2 11/16 INTC 91 13/16 +2 5/8 JNJ 81 9/16 + 1/16
Day Month Year History Drip 2.24% 2.24% 19.19% 1.50% S&P 500 1.18% 1.18% 14.55% 16.85% Nasdaq 1.67% 1.67% 14.68% 12.99% Last Rec'd Total # Security In At Current 09/02/98 8.027 CPB $52.867 $56.000 09/01/98 9.727 INTC $80.238 $91.813 10/07/98 7.850 JNJ $71.405 $81.563 Last Rec'd Total # Security In At Value Change 09/02/98 8.027 CPB $424.36 $449.51 $25.15 09/01/98 9.727 INTC $780.50 $893.09 $112.59 10/07/98 7.850 JNJ $560.53 $640.27 $79.74 Base: $2000.00 Cash: $186.08** Total: $2168.95

The Drip Portfolio has been divided into 85.474 shares with an average purchase price of $23.399 per share.

The portfolio began with $500 on July 28, 1997, adds $100 on the 1st of every month, and the goal is to have $150,000 in stock by August of the year 2017.

**Transactions in progress:
09/21/98: Sent $77 to buy/enroll in MEL.
10/24/98: Sent $40 to buy more INTC.
10/26/98: Sending $60 to buy more JNJ.