ALEXANDRIA, VA (Feb. 23, 1998) -- It's a dreary day here at Fool HQ. The rain is coming down in sheets and it's cold. This is depressing news to the golfers in the room (TMF Fletch, TMF Ralegh, TMF Zog, and TMF Opie) who are anxious to hit the links and make all those triple bogeys. I join in their sorrow and bow down to the golfing gods, hoping that they'll smile upon us all with long, warm days and 4 hour rounds this spring.
Unlike our golf games, the Fool portfolio was well under par today (that's a good thing for the non-golfers in the room), rising 1.26% and closing the gap on the S&P 500, but in second place to the Nasdaq Composite, which rose 1.37% today. I wish the portfolio had won the day, but then again, the best golfers in the world are the ones who consistently perform each week and year, even if they don't win the big tournament.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) buried a 30-footer and closed up $1 1/4 to $64.50 on no real news. I mention it in the write-up only because I bought my first book at Amazon.com today. I'm generally bearish on Amazon because of their valuation (see our Dueling Fools on Amazon) and I almost always enjoy the experience of going out to the bookstore and browsing (read -- "reading for free"). However, I went to all the regular outlets, Border's, Barnes & Noble, and Super Crown and couldn't find the title "Piloting Through Chaos" by Julian Gresser. Lo and behold, Amazon had it in a heartbeat and it's on its way. As much of a skeptic as I am on the stock price, the company "rocks." It was incredibly easy to order and I'm assuming it will be here in a few days.
America Online (NYSE: AOL) has been on fire lately. Stubs in this bad-boy rose another $4 1/8 today after an analyst raised revenue and earnings estimates. Volpe Brown Wehlan analyst Derek Brown raised revenue estimates for fiscal 1999 to $3.8 billion (up $600 million) and EPS estimates from $1.63 to $1.70. Much like Amazon.com, I've also been throwing my personal finances AOL's way recently.
Last month, I got my phone bill and was pretty shocked to see the long-distance tab over $100. Aside from having a pleasant "conversation" with my beautiful and loving wife, I made the switch from AT&T to AOL's Tel-Save. Tel-Save charges $0.09 a minute for state-to-state calls, no matter what time of day you call. It's a flat $0.09 fee per minute, plain and simple. After going through last month's phone bill and seeing that I was being charged an average of $0.21 per minute, this decision was pretty much a no-brainer.
Clearly most of you don't care about my personal spending habits. I mention it because I genuinely believe AOL has reached a large enough mass to start really adding significant value to consumers and this long-distance plan is just the first in what I believe will be a long line of consumer friendly deals. How long will it be before they negotiate deals with the airlines for great ticket prices to AOL members? How long will it be before they cut a deal with a major brokerage for commission-trading to any AOL members? This is why I think AOL is in incredible position for the future.
3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) announced today that they'll be launching new technology for their "Big Picture" line of video applications for the Internet. Basically, these are the face-to-face video phones that we used to see on the cartoon "The Jetsons." 3Com is selling this technology for $199 or $299 if you include the modem. Given that the reason my phone bill was so high was because my wife misses her parents in Rhode Island, I'm relatively sure we'll be buying this darn thing too. 3Com stock was up just about $0.50 to $33 5/8.
Well, you've probably heard enough about my recent spending habits, so I'll leave you all with a pretty clear message: Buy companies that are absolutely hell-bent on serving you well. Buy companies that see what you need and create products to fill that need. Buy companies who deliver products that you absolutely love.
A Personal Request
Finally, on a more personal note tonight, I'm looking to harness the interactive power of the 'Net. I have a friend out there who is sick. If there are any ophthamologists in the audience who haven't fallen asleep by now and would be willing to help me out with some information, I'd appreciate it if you'd e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm specifically looking for neuro-ophthamologists who have some knowledge of diseases of the orbit.
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Day Month Year History FOOL +1.26% 9.53% 3.17% 246.26% S&P: +0.38% 5.90% 6.98% 126.47% NASDAQ: +1.37% 8.18% 11.55% 143.24% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 7.27 123.56 1598.95% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 8.88 593.14% 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 47.62 107.75 126.29% 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 38.22 64.50 68.75% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 62.75 58.55% 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 95.91 104.06 8.50% 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 47.69 47.50 -0.40% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 44.47 -0.54% 2/20/98 215 DuPont 59.83 59.38 -0.77% 2/20/98 200 Exxon 64.09 62.50 -2.48% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 22.19 -13.56% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 23.50 -15.19% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 10.31 -21.77% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 33.63 -28.25% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 2581.87 43864.69 $41282.82 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 17395.00 $14885.40 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 11084.24 18705.00 $7620.76 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 8157.50 $3012.39 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 1999.88 4525.50 $2525.62 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 11029.25 11967.19 $937.94 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 5780.94 -$31.55 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 12876.75 12825.00 -$51.75 2/20/98 215 DuPont 12864.25 12765.63 -$98.63 2/20/98 200 Exxon 12818.00 12500.00 -$318.00 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 7637.50 -$1368.12 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 9429.69 -$1478.94 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -12065.63 -$2157.13 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11715.99 8406.25 -$3309.74 CASH $11233.54 TOTAL $173127.79