Fool Portfolio Report
Thursday, January 16, 1997
by  Jeff Fischer (MF BudFox)

ALEXANDRIA, VA, January 16, 1997-- A busy America Online helped the Fool port rise 1.84% today, smashing the market. The port has gained 4.3% in the first eleven trading days of 1997, beating a strong market marginally -- but beating it.

Some Fool stocks not pulling their weight this month: all four of my fingers point to the Foolish Four. These behemoths (3M, AT&T, GM, and Chevron) were collectively down a fraction today and are now flat for the year. Yes, Fools. Exactly 0.00% these four have returned in this young, energetic year. We best keep in mind that the Dow gained nearly 8% in December (as MF DowMan reminded in a Foolish Four recap this week), so the Foolish Dow stocks taking a rest after such a rise isn't too atypical. Though 3M (NYSE: MMM) rose $1 1/8 today, nearing its high.

3COM (Nasdaq: COMS) rose a fraction today. According to research of the Dell 'Oro Group, 3Com was the world-leading seller of Fast Ethernet Network Interface Cards (NIC) in the first nine months of 1996, having shipped 625,000 of the puppies. This number beats the performance of the number two firm, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) by 36%. From my own reading, 3Com is also the world-leading seller of networking hubs (measured by total parts shipped) for the latest researched period. 3Com has gained 54% for the Fool since August of last year. Tomorrow we'll run some measures of valuation on 3Com and on other networking leader, Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO).

After the bell today KLA INSTRUMENTS (Nasdaq: KLAC) was thought to announce earnings, but as of this writing there's no word yet. $0.40 per share is expected.

AMERICA ONLINE (NYSE: AOL) rose more than $3 today on a number of announcements. The company usually saves membership figures for earnings reports, but today AOL stated it has breached 8 million members, and demand for the service is far out-stripping "supply." AOL is now spending an extra $100 million on its network system expansion to improve access and capacity. CEO Steve Case wrote a letter to the community explaining the situation. It's available on AOL's welcome page and on the Web, too (Web-users, click AOL's ticker symbol above).

Two more class-action lawsuits were filed against AOL last night, both in New York state. This makes for three such current suits including the one in Los Angeles. These filings may have helped push AOL to release membership figures today, and then, thankfully, along with the news to offer the letter of explanation to those who are having difficulty signing-on.

AOL also announced that membership in Europe has surpassed the half-million mark in just fourteen months. It took eight years to reach that figure in America (of course, times are different now). AOL in Canada is also growing strongly. America Online is the world online leader, and the world wants to be online.

This leads to my parting "letter." The writing isn't directed to Fools or members of the online community, but at those companies and individuals over the past few years which have made it their "interest" to unfairly criticize the online medium and its communities. To them, I offer these thoughts:

The game is over.

Read slowly: it's over.


Those of you in industries that I'm speaking to directly may feel a chill go down your spine, but I offer this comfort: you most likely will not see your livelihood end in your life-time. But it will end eventually, in it's current form, it will end and is ending now, each day; it is ending every day as sure as time is bringing us all another step forward with each moment.

We have a way to communicate now, all of us, together: to share and teach and learn collectively. One-way media has had its few hundred years. Its time of strength has come and gone, much like that of the telegram decades ago. Look at these words: together all of us easily share facts and thoughts now, collectively. We don't need to read a static newspaper of opinion-slanted fact written by single, fallible individuals. We don't care what a lone person thinks in their latest "stock talk" newspaper column. We can't readily respond to such postulation. We can't ask questions of it. We can't refute it. We can't learn from it beyond the printed words. It gains us nothing. Such words are the throw-away decree from an aged king of a time long ago. All such one-way shouts will soon be heard by very few, and heeded by even fewer.

We want to be a part of the information sharing process, and online, together, we are. This is what we want. Ignoring this fact a business or critic lives in ignorance. We don't want to be fed information or opinion which allows no room for interpretation or correction. We don't want to be treated as cattle. We want a voice -- everyone has always wanted a voice -- and we now have it, and here we use it for the long-term good.

Criticize the online world all you want, old medias, or whomever. You can do nothing to stop it. You would do best for yourself by attempting to join it. It is what the people want, it is where we are going, and it is what the world will become. All the world will be connected and will be sharing. Criticize it and its forms and you criticize the public, the people -- and this only hastens your demise.

No change happens overnight. All vast changes take sweeping amounts of time. But there comes a point where the ball is rolling quickly enough that the outcome is apparent -- and common sense goes a long way, too, in figuring where the world is headed. We wanted a voice well above what is "preached" to us by the various press and institutions of the world, and we have found it, together.

Together there isn't the motivation of power or money or the "control of information." The motivation for the majority is good-will. Community. An equaling of the power-status. A leveling of the playing-field. A fairness in opportunity and the power to be heard. The ability to consider all thoughts fairly and reflect upon them openly for the common understanding of all involved.

Criticize the online world all you want, those out there who do. You're not kidding anyone. No one. In fact, you look very dim-witted criticizing the largest and most beneficial change in society since the telephone -- which was another means of two-way (multiple-way) communication. (The television was arguably a step BACKWARDS from the telephone as a means of communicating).

Criticize all you want. "Do not go gentle into that good night... Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Who can argue against that philosophy? But realize, online detractors the world over, that the more you criticize, the more people turn away from you, as more and more persons are flocking to this beneficial new world which you criticize. As for those of us already here, we're not listening anyway. We're no longer on the outside looking in. Who is? Who will be?

Take care.

--- January 16, 1997


Stock Change Bid -------------------- AOL +3 5/8 41.63 T - 1/2 38.38 ATCT - 5/8 12.88 CHV --- 68.50 GM + 1/2 60.63 IOM + 1/8 16.38 KLAC - 7/8 39.63 LU + 5/8 51.88 MMM +1 1/8 85.63 NCR - 1/4 34.75 COMS + 1/4 72.25
Day Month Year History FOOL +1.84% 4.29% 4.29% 178.32% S&P 500 +0.33% 3.92% 3.92% 67.92% NASDAQ: +0.51% 3.83% 3.83% 86.13% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 5/17/95 2010 Iomega Cor 2.52 16.38 550.07% 8/5/94 680 AmOnline 7.27 41.63 472.33% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 72.25 54.18% 8/11/95 125 Chevron 50.28 68.50 36.22% 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 65.68 85.63 30.37% 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 51.97 60.63 16.65% 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 47.62 51.88 8.94% 1/2/97 8 NCR 33.63 34.75 3.35% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 38.38 -3.04% 8/24/95 130 KLA Instrm 44.71 39.63 -11.38% 10/22/96 600 ATC Comm. 22.94 12.88 -43.87% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 5/17/95 2010 Iomega Cor 5063.13 32913.75 $27850.62 8/5/94 680 AmOnline 4945.56 28305.00 $23359.44 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11714.99 18062.50 $6347.51 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 14552.49 16975.00 $2422.51 8/11/95 125 Chevron 6285.61 8562.50 $2276.89 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 7224.44 9418.75 $2194.31 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 1999.88 2178.75 $178.87 1/2/97 8 NCR 269.00 278.00 $9.00 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 4988.75 -$156.36 8/24/95 130 KLA Instrm 5812.49 5151.25 -$661.24 10/22/96 600 ATC Comm. 13761.50 7725.00 -$6036.50 CASH $4600.04 TOTAL $139159.29 Transmitted: 1/16/97