The Wizard of Us
Tuesday, April 7, 1998
by Rick Aristotle Munarriz (tmfedible@aol.com)

MIAMI, FL (April 7, 1998) -- Toto, I get the feeling that the Fool Port's not in Alexandria anymore...

(At this point, feel free to start Side One of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. This recap, in its entirety, will sync with the psychedelic score.)

Auntie Em? Ante Up! Tonight we walk the yellow brick streets of Oz -- off to see the Wizard. Somehow, yet not entirely by accident, we dropped a house on traditional financial institutions. It came with a thud. It came in full Technicolor splendor.

In a tornado-spun frenzy we crushed the chains that bound the little people to dependency on the Wise. Yes, you, me, all Motley Munchkins, suddenly empowered, suddenly liberated, suddenly singing...

Ding, dong, the Wise are dead, the wicked Wise, the churning Wise, ding dong, the wicked Wise are dead.

Umm, sorry about that, where was I now? Oh, yes, that's right, that shiny gold-colored road that the Fool Port has traveled over the years. It wouldn't be a journey without a few pedestrian hitchhikers along the way -- and let's make sure we pause to pick up three biggies.

America Online (NYSE: AOL) makes the perfect Scarecrow. It was the first significant holding to join the Port. It is also the brain of Fool Port. It was a thinking Fool's stock. The company was blessed with more potential than profitability. It was not your basic PEG leg. What many saw as just another pile of hay, not too different from other stacks of straw in the shape of competing online services, the Motley Fool saw as a flammable substance with the perfect balance of a user-friendly interface and the agility to offer the all-you-can-eat buffet that other services were busy trying to sell as premium-priced offerings elsewhere.

Iomega (NYSE: IOM) beats as the heart of the Port. It was the Tinman that, for better and sometimes for worse, greased up the media. Here was a company that the Fool Port picked up for a scant split-adjusted $1.28 a share that summed up the very essence of the online medium's advantage. With coast-to-coast channel checks it was easy for the individual investor to gauge how well the Zip drive was flying off the shelves -- long before a "Show me first" Wall Street got excited. Today this Tinman is covered in rust, a week away from reporting its first quarterly loss in three years and its first negative cash flow quarter in the last year and a half. Must... find... oil. The heart is skipping a beat, but far from dead.

For lionlike courage there is no need to look beyond Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN). Here was a company that many, me included, had probably considered to be more of a short sale candidate than a Foolworthy buy. Yet this double take has more than doubled since then. It was a gutsy move, and a rewarding one at that, on a young Internet bookseller that has since grown to define the very aroma of electronic commerce.

With arms intertwined we skip, down a road that has had its shares of potholes. Two years ago our Scarecrow was chastised for stinking thinking accounting. Two weeks ago our Tinman lost the heart of its heart -- with a CEO want ad in today's Wall Street Journal to show for it. Nobody said finding the Wizard was going to be easy.

We also have the original WWW, the Wicked Wise of the West, trying to exact revenge. Winged monkeys? Swatable. The cackling "I'll get you my pretty" threats? Empty. It doesn't take much to conquer this hideous green vermin. Reason and logic make capable water buckets. How does one battle this egocentric evil in concentrate? Just add water.

As the Wise melt away, we might as well reflect on today's market. It was a Toto-esque day all around. The Fool Port mirrored the Nasdaq's 1.7% slide. Bow-wow. The S&P 500 fared relatively better, losing just 1.1% on the day. I guess Travelers (NYSE: TRV) couldn't merge with a major bank every single day. All of the Fool Port stocks lost ground today, save for DuPont (NYSE: DD), which showed StainMaster resilience in rising $4 5/8 today after announcing a corporate reorganization. Polyester is not dead, at least not in the management shuffle, but the company wants to emphasize its life sciences division, which it hopes to grow from 20% to 30% of total revenues over the next four years.

In other Fool Port news, our fearless lion also had to stage a cowardly equity retreat despite inking a deal with www.ivillage.com. Amazon will be the exclusive bookseller on the iVillage website, billed as the number one online destination for women. On kinder days shares of Amazon would probably have headed higher on the new deal. On a tech-bashing day like today, turn the page. Oh, what a world. What a world.

So the Wizard waits. But the biggest surprise is that this all-powerful, all-knowing being, the one person who can make all things possible is no booming stranger behind a tumbling facade. It is someone rather ordinary who believes he or she can make magical things happen. It is someone -- like you. It is someone -- like me. We were off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Us.

With that we tap our ruby red slippers and we are back in more familiar surroundings. Somewhere, over the rainbow, and far removed from our publicized April Fool's Day prank in which we suspended reality for our favorite holiday -- Did you get it? With visions of almost Calvinistic self-determination and the ability to map our own fate, was it all just a dream? Perhaps -- but you had that power all along.

- Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

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TODAY'S NUMBERS

Stock Change Bid ---------------- AMZN -3 3/8 85.25 AOL -2 3/8 70.50 T - 3/8 65.44 DD +4 5/8 72.31 DJT - 11/16 8.19 XON - 9/16 67.88 INVX - 15/16 24.69 IP - 13/16 48.19 IOM - 5/16 6.50 KLAC - 5/8 36.88 LU -3 3/16 66.31 COMS -1 1/8 32.19 TDFX -1 1/16 25.31 SPY - 3/4 110.94
Day Month Year History FOOL -1.73% 0.74% 13.09% 279.52% S&P: -1.06% 0.71% 14.34% 142.05% NASDAQ: -1.66% -2.01% 14.54% 149.76% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 3.64 70.50 1838.71% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 6.50 407.65% 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 23.81 66.31 178.53% 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 38.22 85.25 123.04% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 65.44 65.34% 2/20/98 215 DuPont 59.83 72.31 20.86% 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 95.91 110.94 15.67% 2/20/98 200 Exxon 64.09 67.88 5.91% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 8.19 3.32% 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 47.69 48.19 1.04% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 25.31 -1.38% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 24.69 -10.91% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 36.88 -17.53% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 32.19 -31.32% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 2581.87 50055.00 $47473.13 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 11084.24 24722.50 $13638.26 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 12740.00 $10230.40 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 1999.88 5570.25 $3570.37 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 8506.88 $3361.77 2/20/98 215 DuPont 12864.25 15547.19 $2682.94 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 11029.25 12757.81 $1728.56 2/20/98 200 Exxon 12818.00 13575.00 $757.00 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -9579.38 $329.13 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 12876.75 13010.63 $133.88 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 10757.81 -$150.81 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 8023.44 -$982.18 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 4793.75 -$1018.74 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11715.99 8046.88 -$3669.12 CASH $11233.54 TOTAL $189761.29

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