Paging Dr. Internet
Friday, May 29, 1998
by Paul Larson (TMFParlay@aol.com)

CHICAGO, IL (May 29, 1998) -- This last trading day of the month saw another 0.73% of the Fool Portfolio evaporate into the ether. We can chalk up May as a month that landed solidly in the "loss" column for the Fool Portfolio. Let's quickly take a glimpse at how we fared this forgettable month:

04/30/98 05/29/98 % Change Dow Industrials 9063.37 8899.95 -1.80% S&P 500 1111.77 1090.82 -1.88% Nasdaq 1868.41 1778.88 -4.79% Fool Portfolio $203,954.01 $193,319.31 -5.21%
One word: "Doh!"

Actually, we're not very concerned about this at all. We remain extremely confident in our discipline and know that there will be times, sometimes long periods of time, that the portfolio will lose some of its value. It happens. What we really care about is the long-term performance, and on that accord we are quite proud. Let's see how we're doing on the longest focus we can muster this lovely Friday:

Annualized Return since 8/5/94 S&P 500 +25.5% Nasdaq +26.7% Fool Portfolio +42.5% There's not a whole heck of a lot of news to talk about today concerning the portfolio's stocks. For that matter, not much happened all this week. Perhaps the summer doldrums are hitting us a bit early this year? Can we blame it on El Nino?

We do have a bifurcation in Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) to look forward to next week. Some people enjoy stock splits, but I can personally live without them. All they do is increase my accounting tasks and screw up my frame of reference. I find myself saying, "The portfolio bought Amazon at $38, err, I mean $19." For those that truly understand equity valuation, it is clearly evident that splitting the stock does not make the stock or the company any "cheaper." Like I always say, "It's just two Lincolns for a Hamilton."

One of our stocks hit a 52-week low today. That stock is none other than that smelly dog known as 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS), which is now the worst performing stock in the portfolio. The stink is only closely followed by that other pooch called Innovex (Nasdaq: INVX). The last time 3Com's stock closed so low was way back in February of 1995. While I don't think anyone in the Fool Port ranks is happy with 3Com's performance as a company over the past 18 months or so, it's also tough to cut the stock loose at such deflated levels. Besides, the company now only represents little more than 3% of the assets in the portfolio.

Are you ready for a short story?

Contrary to the rumor going around, I was not abducted by aliens last Friday when I was scheduled to scribe this column. Rather, I found myself bowed over in pain in the ER and then as a guest of Good Samaritan Hospital in scenic Downers Grove, Illinois for the initial part of the Memorial Day weekend. (Nice way to start the summer, eh?)

I think one of the most interesting experiences I had with being a patient was the fact that I was completely cut off from the Internet the whole time I was in the hospital. That meant no email. No stock quotes. No press releases. No message boards. No nothing. It was quite the surreal feeling to be surrounded by all the technological wonders of modern medicine and yet to be completely cut off from probably the greatest breakthrough in our lifetimes.

I did have a laptop computer available to me, but the proprietary hospital telephone system did not support computer connections. I was even tinkering with the thought of borrowing my buddy's cellular modem, but cellular devices were banned in the building. Am I addicted to the Internet? Sure, just as I am addicted to driving my car and using the telephone. In other words, being able to communicate great distances and having a virtually limitless amount of information at my fingertips has become such a huge part of my daily life that I was just about lost without it. Can I live and breathe sans net? Who couldn't. But can I live nearly as enriched a life without it? The answer to that, dear Fool, is a resounding no.

So what did I end up doing during my stay? I spent part of my time watching some of my roommate's favorite television shows, such as Judge Judy. Hey, it was better than counting ceiling tiles! I've always felt that watching network television was somewhat of a banal experience, and this certainly cemented my thoughts. It also made me wonder why hospitals don't give patients access to the Internet as a standard way to fill their time. Thinking about all the cool things I could have been doing while I was racked up really got me wondering. I could have been scanning the net for articles on my condition or maybe even getting a little bit of work done. But no, I was shut out. I was a prisoner, isolated from all the information I have grown so accustomed to.

I'm glad to see the Fool Portfolio invested in companies that are taking advantage of the blatantly obvious trend that the Internet is becoming as an almost indispensable part of our modern lives. Whether it be America Online (NYSE: AOL) or the companies we own that make the hardware for the web, such as Lucent (NYSE: LU) and 3Com, this portfolio has more than enough exposure to this macro trend.

As for me, I'm feeling worlds healthier than I was a week ago. I'm just happy I had my crayons and Toy Story coloring book to keep me busy last Saturday.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

- Paul Larson

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TODAY'S NUMBERS

Stock Change Bid ---------------- AMZN +2 87.75 AOL - 3/16 83.31 T + 1/8 60.75 DD -2 1/4 77.19 DJT - 1/16 8.56 XON - 7/16 70.50 INVX - 3/4 18.50 IP - 15/16 46.00 IOM - 1/16 6.38 KLAC -2 1/2 33.75 LU - 13/16 70.94 COMS -1 5/8 25.38 TDFX + 5/16 19.81 SPY - 29/32 109.13
Day Month Year History FOOL -0.73% -5.21% 15.21% 286.64% S&P: -0.62% -1.88% 12.41% 137.96% NASDAQ: -0.88% -4.79% 13.28% 147.00% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 3.64 83.31 2191.05% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 6.38 397.89% 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 23.81 70.94 197.96% 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 38.22 87.75 129.58% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 60.75 53.50% 2/20/98 215 DuPont 59.83 77.19 29.00% 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 95.91 109.13 13.78% 2/20/98 200 Exxon 64.09 70.50 10.00% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 8.56 -1.11% 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 47.69 46.00 -3.55% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 19.81 -22.81% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 33.75 -24.52% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 18.50 -33.24% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 25.38 -45.85% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 710 AmOnline 2581.87 59151.88 $56570.01 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 11084.24 25447.50 $14363.26 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 12495.00 $9985.40 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 1999.88 5958.75 $3958.87 2/20/98 215 DuPont 12864.25 16595.31 $3731.06 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 7897.50 $2752.39 1/8/98 115 S&P Depos. 11029.25 12549.38 $1520.13 2/20/98 200 Exxon 12818.00 14100.00 $1282.00 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -10018.13 -$109.63 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 12876.75 12420.00 -$456.75 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 4387.50 -$1424.99 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 8420.31 -$2488.31 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 6012.50 -$2993.12 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11715.99 6343.75 -$5372.24 CASH $11558.06 TOTAL $193319.31

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