Motley Fool Staff
Jan 6, 2000 at 12:00AM
Simpletons! Didn't any one of them brush up on the craft of foreshadowing back in grade school? I mean, go ahead and burst what was previously inflated. See what you've done? It's more than just a pin prick when it goes through your wallet. Oh, criminy. Oh, woe.
Oh, grow up! Do you think you'll even remember what happened over the first few trading days of 2000 a few months from now? Years from now?
Let me digress here -- solely for the purpose of not digressing later. In my United We Strand recap last month (last year, last century, same difference) I proposed that community-enhanced discount sites like Bargainflix and DealCatcher will bully e-commerce for its lunch money. Anyway, I do eat my own cooking. I hit quite a few of the listed online retailers with offer codes in hand. One was Vitamins.com, where there was a tempting $25 off and free shipping over any order over $25 last month.
To cut a long story short, I'm not really a health food fanatic. We all should be. I guess. Still, I'm the guy who walks into a GNC wondering where Hickory Farms went. I'll take one of my son's Flintstone chewables over adult nutrition supplements. Often. So, there I was, lost with found money.
I decided to load up on health bars. I'm still not sure what drove me in that direction. Even when I was a member of a local gym -- quite a few years and pounds lighter -- I never got into the power bar and protein shake thang. Yet, there I was, online, loading up on Clif, Balance and Power Bars like I was a wheat germ-topped cottage cheese kind of guy at a health food smorgasbord.
Anyway, last night, after staring at the unopened boxes for a few weeks now, I decided to give one a shot. I chose a yogurt-coated berry flavored bar with Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo Biloba is a memory enhancer. I forget why I even ordered that one actually. All I know is that, one nibble in, my stomach was turning like a day trader at 3:59 p.m. Eastern. It was terrible. Putrid-o-licious. Who would put something like this out? I mean, sure, make a rank tasting nutrition bar if you want to -- but, please, don't spike it with a supplement that will make folks remember how bad it is. That's just bad business, Fools!
But, getting back to the market, if you turn it around and read the label you will find a lot of things. Rich rewards. Risks aplenty. Yogurt-coated berries. But no Ginkgo Biloba. That's right, the market offers many things (many, many things) but you have to enhance your memory elsewhere.
And that's fine because if it did come laced with a little Ginkgo it would only serve one purpose. That, naturally, would be to remind us that we have to remember to forget. Today, the third consecutive day in which tech stocks got roughed up like N'Sync at a Blink 182 concert, was bad. Both the Nasdaq and our Rule Breaker Port shed in the neighborhood of 4%. The S&P 500 got a lift from its non-tech components and managed to gain a little over 1%, but odds are we're all a little poorer today.
Remember. Forget. This week, with the Nasdaq off 8.4%, and our Rule Breaker collection not faring a whole lot better, tech stocks have been pushed around, like, well, like Blink 182 at an N'Sync concert. Them teenybopper fans can bite.
You might pick up on the salient issues. When pertinent, these are fundamental matters that investors should very well mull over. Today, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) announced that it would be teaming up with CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) to offer yet another ad-sponsored free Internet service. The planned Free World service is not revolutionary. However, it is another piece of ammo for America Online (NYSE: AOL) pundits.
AOL and @Home have rammed heads before. The open broadband access issue finds us sending reinforcements to both camps. In any portfolio you will find that all your holdings can't live in perfect harmony. When Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) began offering online auctions, was eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) pleased? When Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) began selling hardcover bestsellers at 50% off, was Amazon tickled? Okay, okay. That last one isn't true. Amgen generates cells. Not book sales.
But one shouldn't panic when one holding is pecking at the other's feeding dish. If anything, it might actually validate the attractiveness of the niche itself. It's okay to bet on two horses in the same race -- as long as they're both fast.
But, to me, this time the real target of Free World (and the many free ISPs before it) is not AOL's proprietary offering but, rather, the vanilla ISPs out there. Yes, that includes AOL's own CompuServe 2000. Probably personal computers, too. Over the holidays, a lot of people were duped into paying $800 for the honor of getting half of that back in a rebate and three years of free Internet service. Now, there are just way too many players giving access away for those willing to put up with a few ads (which, even at the paid subscriber level, is still a major part of the online experience).
If the trend continues, AOL will continue to grow as the user-friendly premium service, and computer stores will have to stop hiding the actual system prices behind $400-off asterisks because consumers will smarten up.
So, where does that leave us? I didn't get too far into that health bar so I'm afraid I don't remember. Oh, that's right. Skim on down and see the numbers for today. AOL and Amazon have fallen back into the 60s again. Tie-dyed horror? Post-split, though.
"The Ginkgo ate your Gravy."
Then again, our recent biotech investments put up a good fight today with Amgen trading higher and Celera (NYSE: CRA) closing unchanged. Take a look. Don't take a picture. Then remember to forget.
What you saw.
What I wrote.
What you feared.
Motley Fool Staff
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