Touchstone 13th
The Drip treads lightly on superstition

by Jeff Fischer (TMFJeff@aol.com)

ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 13, 1998) -- It's bad luck to write anything serious on Friday the 13th, so let me assure you: we'll have none of that "serious garbage" today.

However, I did receive a fax this morning with very strange language written in large, broken font. Upon deciphering, we determined that it arrived from Iraq. It said,

Dear Fools,

In order to make your oil study
more interesting, we might begin
a war.

With admiration,
P.S. I bought Pfizer instead of JNJ.

The Pentagon, which is minutes from Fool HQ, has already been alerted. It's humbling to be reminded of the enormous influence of the Drip Port, but at the same time, it can be disturbing.

Just last week I received a phone call from Ralph -- the CEO of Johnson & Johnson. After the usual chit-chat about his tennis game, he said that he hoped we were happy with the company's $3.5 billion Depuy purchase. "We did that acquisition for you guys," he said. "We could tell that you needed something to write about. Plus, because so many of you began your DRP with us this year, we decided to make our largest acquisition ever for you. You know, to give you something to remember your first year by."

I thanked Ralph for all of us. He replied that Johnson & Johnson has more acquisitions in the works specifically for us. "I'll let you know about them before we announce them," he admitted. For his safety and mine, I told him that wasn't necessary. I already have an inside contact at J&J.

Tombstone Friday the 13th

This week both Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) broke new all-time highs like mirrors breaking in a mirror shop.

Intel jumped on word that fourth quarter revenue will rise as much as 10% sequentially, rather than only slightly as was expected. We wrote about Intel on Wednesday.

Johnson & Johnson, despite having the black cat of slow growth cross some of its divisional paths, continued to make new highs, as it has all year. There was no substantial news. On Monday, the company completed its tender offer for FemRx (Nasdaq: FMRX) at a cost of $22 million. $22 million might be a great deal of money to you or me, but that much cash could fall from Mr. J&J's pocket and he wouldn't even notice.

Mellon Bank (NYSE: MEL) announced on Friday that it partnered with PP&L, Inc., a Mellon corporate customer, in creating a successful prototype "designed to test Bank Internet Payment System (BIPS) technology. The new technology, which can be used by a payor whose bank does not use BIPS, is a first step toward enabling secure, spontaneous transactions over the Internet between parties unknown to each other."

"BIPS focuses on business-to-business transactions, enabling payment instructions to be communicated via the Internet to the automated clearing house (ACH) or wire transfer systems at banks. Ultimately, BIPS could be implemented to communicate with any electronic payment mechanism supported by a BIPS-enabled bank."

This Internet-related news is potentially behind the rise in Mellon's stock on Friday. The most important aspect of it, of course, is that despite being a century old stalwart, Mellon is proactively attacking new markets. That's a must for any company in which we invest. Mr. Morrison, the CEO of Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB), writes in that company's 1998 annual report that "the difference between great companies and those that are merely good is the ability to change, to adapt, to be even more relevant tomorrow than today."

Trying to be more relevant by next Monday, this week we made progress in our oil and gas study. On Monday we presented the list of companies that you suggested. On Tuesday, Brian started us off with what to expect in this study, hinting at the international focus we're going to undertake. Next, Wednesday's column shared the Intel news and the more finalized list of companies that we'll study. The list is flexible, however. Since then, we've already decided to add Sunoco. Finally, Thursday offered a glance at the size of the oil and gas industry and some industry terms we'll need to know.

Before closing, I want to share this useful resource compiled by TMF Judy. This page on the Fool website shares dozens of links to helpful information across the Web: The Motley Fool Web Resource List. Check that out. Also, the Fool's site map on the Web is simply great. It clearly arranges everything that the Fool offers online. Did you know about the Fool's "How to Buy a Car" and "How to Buy a Home" areas? Or the insurance, retirement, debt, or tax areas? Bookmark that Foolish site map!

On Monday we're back on the rig: more oil history and terms. So put on your school clothes and bring two sharpened pencils, because this study has just begun. As always, we'll be exploring the message boards regularly. Maybe we'll find you there.

Have a Foolish weekend, Drip Fools.

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

11/13/98 Close

Stock Close Change CPB 54 3/8 -9/16 INTC 103 3/4 +1 1/16 JNJ 84 5/8 + 7/16 MEL 62 +1 1/16
Day Month Year History Drip 0.35% 8.56% 26.55% 7.77% S&P 500 0.68% 2.46% 16.00% 18.33% Nasdaq (0.17%) 4.32% 17.68% 15.95% Last Rec'd Total # Security In At Current 09/02/98 8.027 CPB $52.867 $54.375 09/01/98 9.727 INTC $80.238 $103.750 10/07/98 7.850 JNJ $71.405 $84.625 10/07/98 1.000 MEL $48.560 $62.000 Last Rec'd Total # Security In At Value Change 09/02/98 8.027 CPB $424.36 $436.47 $12.11 09/01/98 9.727 INTC $780.50 $1009.21 $228.71 10/07/98 7.850 JNJ $560.53 $664.31 $103.78 10/07/98 1.000 MEL $48.56 $62.00 $13.44 Base: $2100.00 Cash: $237.52** Total: $2409.51

The Drip Portfolio has been divided into 89.430 shares with an average purchase price of $23.482 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:
10/24/98: Sent $40 to buy more INTC.
10/26/98: Sending $60 to buy more JNJ.