ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 12, 1997) -- The Fool Portfolio fell with the market today, dropping 2% in the wake of ratings cuts, reduced earnings estimates, Asian fears, and probably some good ol' fashioned profit-taking near the end of another great year for the market. Even though we've witnessed a 10% drop in the Nasdaq over the past several weeks, that index is still up 19% for the year. The S&P 500? Stronger: 22%. The Fool Portfolio is the laggard at present, up just 17%. But all of these are well above the market's historical norm of 11%, so we have much to be thankful for. Indeed, that's the theme of tonight's report.
Because tonight's report isn't about the market. It's not about 3Com getting downgraded yet again, shedding another four bucks. It's not about Iomega just having announced a 2-for-1 stock split (after market close -- yes, this really did happen). It's not about The Donald having now dropped to less than 2% above our short price.
And it has nothing to do with another great moment in Foolish history. (Ninety-four years ago, on November 12, 1903, Enrico Caruso recorded the aria "On with the Motley" from Verdi's opera I Pagliacci; it became the first million-seller in recording history and hit #1 for four weeks.)
Tonight's report is about the overall aim of Folly, which is to create new opportunities and possibilities for oneself and for others through investing. To that end, we have a big announcement tonight. Let's cut right to the chase, before explaining ourselves further:
We're asking each of you, members of the Foolish worldwide community, to look into your heart and over your bank or brokerage statement. We hope every Fool will come forward and join us in contributing anything from $1 to $10,000 to the first online group-giving effort in Internet history. The end of our drive is December 31st.
The stock market has been strong once again this year, and we find ourselves again with more money than we really need. Plunged in the midst of an urban environment as Fool HQ is, we're quite cognizant of how much more our extra dollars can mean to someone just a few blocks away. And so The Motley Fool today announces its partnership with Share Our Strength, the outstanding hunger-relief organization, in a holiday drive to raise money to create and run Foolish community kitchens nationwide.
THE FOOLISH MISSION
As we assert in our second book (out in January), money is really just synonymous with opportunity. Money is the opportunity to retire early, to buy a house, to put a child through college. And when you give money away, you're giving that opportunity to someone else. There is no nobler use of the stuff.
The Motley Fool has come a long way since it started as a newsletter for family and friends four years ago. Amid its wealth of daily articles, portfolio success, and best-selling publishing ventures, what actually most distinguishes The Fool is the large international community that visits its online sites (the Web and AOL) every day.
At a certain point, we began to recognize that our incredibly talented and diverse community was more than just a bunch of human beings tapping in "virtually" from all over the place. Amid the many people who perused our stuff daily online, signed their posts "Foolishly," and wore Fool caps at our booksignings, it became obvious to us: The Motley Fool was far more than an online address and much bigger than our hundred-odd employees in Alexandria, Virginia. We recognized that Foolishness was becoming a force for revolution and positive change, a potentially powerful force for good, fulfilling in fact the historical and traditional role of The Fool, to treat the world as its King and to keep telling it the truth.
Upon having this realization, we hatched plans for our holiday drive. We're asking each of you, members of the Foolish worldwide community, to look into your heart and over your brokerage statement and join us in contributing anything from $1 to $10,000 to the first online group-giving effort in Internet history. And we've made it extremely convenient to give, whether directly online (this will launch this coming Monday, November 17), via snail-mail, fax, our 800 number, or heck, walk up to Fool HQ and hand us a check directly. Details on all this come in the last section below, "How To Give." And on the page dedicated to this initiative, we'll soon be including a key section on giving away shares of common stock (probably the smartest and best way to give!).
But give to whom? To what? We scoured the non-profit world for an entity worthy of this exciting and experimental first venture. We identified a number of talented and entrepreneurial organizations, enough that after several meetings we were having difficulty picking. So we Foolishly decided just to open up the decision to the Foolish community at large. We did that in October, and your answer was emphatically: Share Our Strength (SOS). So we have spent the past month working with SOS directly to figure out how best to share our strength. Following extensive discussion, we have settled on a community-kitchen initiative that we'll briefly describe in the next section.
Of the money given, 75% will go directly into the kitty for building new community kitchens (price tag: $50,000 for each), the other 25% will go to operating expenses for our new partner, and (of course) 0% will go to The Motley Fool. Besides being the greatest donor, our parts in this effort include coordinating the collection of the funds, overseeing their use to create new community kitchens nationwide, and reporting back to you on a regular basis as to how it's all going. This will be a regular feature in Fooldom going forward.
Community kitchens combine job training and food recycling to help solve the problem of hunger by not only feeding the needy, but by teaching them how to get out from the ranks of the needy. Community kitchens gather food from diverse sources (restaurants, hotels, caterers, supermarket bakeries, etc.), take the ingredients and create meals, then send them out to homeless shelters, schools, women's shelters, and senior centers. The key is that the people who prepare the food are actually students taking a 12-week course to prepare them to work in the food services industry; the students themselves are the homeless and disenfranchised. This is the most systematic, efficient, and Foolish method to fight hunger and homelessness that we know of. It attacks the root causes of unemployment and lack of education, and attacks them with food that would've been otherwise thrown out.
It also engages hunger as a larger social issue, insofar as it enables all the other programs out there that cater to the poor and disenfranchised to be working with men and women who DON'T need to eat -- that problem is removed -- and the organizations can really focus on their own work at hand.
What your donation does is invest money in actually creating new community kitchens, self-sustaining solutions to hunger. Our ambitious goal is to start at least three of these, in California, North Carolina, and Kentucky. (Sites have already been identified). So unlike other donations that might be a one-time gift, this donation will truly be a gift that keeps on giving to the people who need it most. The kitchens will become catalysts in communities, providing the more fortunate from all walks of life a vehicle to help the needy.
HOW TO GIVE
We have tried to make the donation process terribly simple. As of Monday, November 17, it'll be possible to donate directly online using your credit card. But as of right now, you can already send a fax (703-684-3603) or call toll-free (1-888-665-3665) and supply us with your name (as it appears on the card), the type of credit card, the credit card number, the credit card's expiration date, your name or pseudonym as you want it to appear in our Ring Of Honor, any comment you want to challenge the rest of the community with (optional), your mailing address so we can send you a receipt for tax purposes, and your phone number (optional) in case we need to contact you.
Via snail-mail, you can send a check made out to Share Our Strength -- NOT the Motley Fool -- to The Fool Charity Fund, attn: Noah Davis, 123 N. Pitt Street, 4th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314. Again, we'd also want your name or pseudonym as you want it to appear in our Ring Of Honor, any comment you want to challenge the rest of the community with (optional), your mailing address so we can send you a receipt for tax purposes, and your phone number (optional) in case we need to contact you.
For your donation you will not only receive a receipt, you will also receive public approbation when you are listed in our eternal online Ring Of Honor (you may be anonymous, if you wish). This can use your actual name or your screen name or e-mail address. As well, you will receive a personal thank you letter from Share Our Strength acknowledging your gift.
We thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and contributing to this very worthy cause.
Let me close by saying, as usual, that I'd love to hear any questions, suggestions, or comments you have about this new initiative. Just e-mail me directly. Thanks.
-- David Gardner, November 12, 1997
Today's FoolWatch: all the latest in Fooldom.
Day Month Year History FOOL -2.36% -5.63% 17.11% 212.54% S&P: -1.93% -0.95% 22.30% 97.63% NASDAQ: -2.72% -3.26% 19.42% 114.07% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 5/17/95 980 Iomega Cor 2.52 28.50 1030.95% 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 7.27 70.69 871.93% 8/11/95 125 Chevron 50.28 81.88 62.82% 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 47.62 77.25 62.23% 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 65.68 95.44 45.31% 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 51.97 62.81 20.86% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 46.75 18.12% 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 38.22 45.00 17.73% 4/30/97 -1170 *Trump* 8.47 8.63 -1.84% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 23.75 -14.29% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 36.69 -17.95% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 30.88 -34.11% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 5/17/95 980 Iomega Cor 2509.60 27930.00 $25420.40 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 2581.87 25094.06 $22512.19 8/11/95 125 Chevron 6285.61 10234.38 $3948.77 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 7224.44 10498.13 $3273.69 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 14552.49 17587.50 $3035.01 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 11084.24 13050.00 $1965.76 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 1999.88 3244.50 $1244.62 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 6077.50 $932.39 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -10091.25 -$182.75 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 4769.38 -$1043.12 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 7718.75 -$1286.87 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11714.99 7718.75 -$3996.24 CASH $32438.81 TOTAL $156270.50