MIAMI, FL (August 25, 1999) -- Is this thing on? Hello? Testing one two. Why isn't the red light going on? I thought the red light would be on. No? Wonderful. Now where did everybody go? Where is Jeff? Gone? Okay, roll the trailer....
Announcer: In October of 1994, three full-service brokers disappeared near Alexandria, Virginia on a cold-calling expedition. A year later, their tapes were found.
Broker 1 (cradling telephone receiver while tongue-flossing his teeth): Trust me. I'll beat the S&P 500 like a Denny's three-egg omelet. Piece of cake.
Broker 2 (adjusting her headset): No, no, no, load mutual funds are great. Yes. Great. Why are they called load? Oh, ummm, that's because they are load-ed with good nutrition? Yes, no, maybe? Hey! Are you still there?
Broker 3 (wiping sweat off his brow and barking into speakerphone): Listen, I don't care if you're having dinner right now, I've just been tipped off on the next Microsoft. If you want in you better get in before dessert. Hmmm, what are you having anyway? I'm kinda hungry.
Announcer: The Blair Wise Project. Movie Money Magazine calls it the scariest movie since The Man Who Loved Penny Stocks.
Broker 1 (frantic): What's that sound? What's that sound! (breaks down) I'm so sorry. I'm lost. I'm scared. I'm hunted. I couldn't beat the S&P 500. I couldn't beat the monkey with the darts. I lied about that three-egg omelet. We're doomed!
Announcer: The Blair Wise Project. Now playing at a theater near you.
That's it? I mean, yes, that's it! Now if I could only find my way out of this recap. There used to be a trail here before the trailer. Today's market numbers would be here, I'd sign off, and we would return to a world of marshmallow pies and pulp-heavy lemonade. But I've messed up this time. I've brought you all here, deep into this recap, and I'm afraid we're lost.
I guess this means I'll blow my chance at the Iomega (NYSE: IOM) CEO gig. Bummer. Over the weekend the company announced its third chief since Kim Edwards bolted last year. David Dunn is the company's chairman so he is merely baby-sitting at the helm until the fourth CEO comes around. That could have been me. Maybe.
Since I have nothing to lose out here, and I've pecked out all of the raisins from my trail mix, am I allowed a nonsensical tirade? I don't mean to sound sexist but Kim, Jodie -- I know, what's in a name. In more found times I'd be back home in Miami where Dolphins legend Kim Bokamper could rip me to shreds. Heck, the kid from Family Affair can do a number on me if it came to flying fists. But if I never do find my way out of here, can the next Iomega CEO grant me one last request? Male or female, please legally change your name to "Cobalt Blue." Show some kind of marketing compassion to recapture the flair that once set your company apart from the commoditized storage sector. It all starts with a name change. Got that Coby?
While we're laying tent-side stones, it was nice to see online auctionhaus eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) set aside plans to set minimum bids at its reserve price auctions and at least scale back a fee placed on unsold smaller items. The new rules were supposed to go into effect Monday. While there is nothing wrong, from a shareholder perspective, with trying to milk more value out of a customer, why now? My buddy Cobalt, she can teach eBay a thing or two about timing. After a summer of outages and a year of new heavy-handed competition from Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), why rock the boat of conformity in these slow wake times?
And where did these twigs come from? They seem to be spelling something out. A three and some letters. Vowel-free gibberish methinks. No. Wait! It's 3dfx (Nasdaq: TDFX). Poor stock, it got hammered yesterday after reporting a quarterly loss, reversing last year's profitability -- again. Okay, sure, video chipsets are not the ripest of fields right now; Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC) wavering on that front bears proof of that even if it might mean margin relief down the road. Let's not underscore the huge 79% gain in quarterly revenues either. And, while we're at it, this is a company with a relatively clean balance sheet hoarding away more than $4 a share in cash and short-term investments. Then again, that was yesterday. Today the stock bounced back when pessimism head-butted a reality check.
Since I can't find a map, I guess I should also bring up Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN). It was one of five biotech heavies downgraded by Merrill Lynch this morning. But you can't keep life sciences down. The stock opened more than $2 lower but made it all back and then some before the closing bell.
So there's my motivation. There's my inspiration tonight. In the face of spiraling peril, I will rise above it -- like Amgen. Like 3dfx the morning after. Nothing can stop me. Well, nothing except the reality that we're really, really lost now. I've got no bread crumbs to follow. Shhh. Do you hear those sounds? Jeff? Dave? Anybody? What gives with these encircling voices? Is this the way out?
A house! In the woods! Oh, shelter. Oh, home to yelps of anguish. Scrawled on the walls? Tonight's market data. Finally, some good news. Thanks to a strong surge in online stocks -- and that meant double-digit gains for eBay and Amazon -- the Rule Breaker shot up 5.1%. That blew past the 1.3% showing of the S&P 500 and the respectable 1.9% Nasdaq gain. So, it figures, I'm lost and the Port is found. Again. Still, this doesn't feel right. This dilapidated house feels hollow. Screams are coming from the basement. Let's go check it out. Down the darkened steps the misery grows louder. What do we see?
Three brokers, hanging their heads in shame, facing the wall in penance. Pity. They never saw it coming like I di--