Campbell in the CATDOG seat?
Plus, Touchstone Friday

by Vince Hanks (TMFElwood@aol.com)

NORTHVILLE, MI (Jan. 8, 1999) --
"You can't measure time in days the way you can money in dollars because every day is different."
    - Jorge Luis Borges

The first trading week of 1999 has come and gone, leaving us a few dollars richer, a few wits sharper, and perhaps a bit healthier if we stick to those New Year's resolutions!

Lunging out of the gate, the market is galloping at a full sprint in the early days of this new year. We realize this could change at any moment and we don't get too excited about short-term movement one way or the other. I only mention it because I noticed a great deal of "experts" on financial television in the waning days of '98 predicting a sluggish start to 1999, and some even went so far as to suggest pulling some money out of stocks for the first half of the year.

Certainly, one week is far too short a time to draw a conclusion of any kind, but I'm sure glad my savings is right where it is. And I'd be just as glad if the market was down this week because I've got my money on the horse with the best chance of winning the race, even if it starts slow or lags for a few laps here and there.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) shared some good news with us this week for a change. Word out of Warren, N.J. is the recently FDA-approved S.M.A.R.T. Stent began shipping this week. The Shape Memory Alloy Recoverable Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) Stent, features temperature-sensitive nickel and titanium (nitinol) alloy that dramatically rearranges its shape after exceeding a certain temperature, in this case, slightly below normal body temperature (isn't science great?). The new stent is also compressible, and after compression, it returns to its original shape. This allows a combination of full vessel support and flexibility that is not found in previous stents, as well as more precise positioning.

Stents are tiny, expandable tubules that are inserted into blood vessels by a catheter at the site of vessel obstruction. The stent is then expanded and remains fixed in place within the vessel, restoring blood flow. Numerous clinical studies have shown the use of stents significantly reduce the chance of recurring obstruction and rehospitalization.

Is Campbell Soup sitting in the CATDOG seat? The Pepperidge Farm division of Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB) thinks something fishy is going on with the new CATDOG snack by Nabisco (NYSE: RN). Nabisco plans to include fish-shaped crackers in the new half-dog, half-cat product mix and has filed suit against our company after Pepperidge Farm sent a letter of protest to Nabisco, citing a distinct resemblance to the trademarked GOLDFISH snack. We'll keep an eye on this story as the two companies fight it out in court like cats and dogs, er, and I guess fish.

Touchstone Friday. This week marked a first in Dripfolio history. For the first time since its inception, the Drip Portfolio nightly reports were authored by a unique Fool each evening. We're checking with the people at the Guinness Book to see if this feat merits inclusion.

On Monday, George kicked off the week with further examination of "franchises" as defined by John Train in his book The Money Masters. He showed how one of our holdings, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), stacks up to criteria laid out by Mr. Train. This was the third part of an informative trimaran of reports by George on this unique way of looking at franchise businesses.

On Tuesday, we were treated to a special guest appearance by long-time Drip message board contributor Frank Bosley (racerboy). Frank shared with us his best investment as a new Fool -- and it wasn't Exxon! Those of you on the Web side familiar with the infamous racerboy posts, no doubt were as shocked as I that Frank passed up a chance to champion his favorite oil company.

Wednesday brought word from the Dean of the Dripfolio, Jeff Fischer. Jeff gave us an inspirational review of our mission statement and the goals of this portfolio. If you're not familiar with exactly what we're doing here in the Drip Port, I'd drop everything right now (crash!) and read this report.

Finally, on Thursday, Brian wrote why Fools should consider favoring New Year's habits over New Year's resolutions. As with Jeff's review of our mission on Wednesday, Brian's report would be an excellent article to send to anyone you know that isn't yet managing his or her money Foolishly. Let's do what we can in this new year to help many of those we care about take the first steps on the journey to a more prosperous future, shall we?

Have a Foolish weekend!

Call Your Boss a Fool.

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