Is it today? Yes indeed. This is the last day to sign up for David's Rule Breaker Online Seminar. It's an amazing experience to have our own brand of home schooling sent your way with interactive possibilities. David dazzled with his Presidential Predictor last night.
"Gore in 2000," was his conclusion and it came as a welcome bit of relief to see that written anywhere else than in recent bearish financial headlines. Of course, few rarely get it right. I have a petting zoo full of peeves against mainstream equity journalism but none greater than its ability to cliche away the obvious. Here is what I mean:
1. "The market is going through a correction" -- Excuse me? What is it correcting? Contact lenses and orthopedic shoes correct. Since when is enrichment an impairment? By this logic, if stocks ever bounce back during a bear market it will be branded an incorrection.
2. Analyst jargon -- Is there anyone who can make sense of this? I mean, even Babelfish shrugs here. One minute an analyst sees a stock as a "strong buy." The next minute the analyst hates it so much she tells her clients to "accumulate." I'll tell you what has accumulated. It's time to serve up a little Ex-Lax for the Wise Soul. Two weeks ago, Morgan Stanley downgraded Nike (NYSE: NKE) to "Outperform." I'm not making this up.
3. "This is a buying opportunity" -- There is nothing worse than an apologetic Pollyanna. Just for once I'd like to see some talking head come clean. Sure, call a dipping stock a "buying opportunity" but do the right thing and come back the next day and brand it a "selling opportunity" if it perks back up. Neither works. It stinks of churn. But at least show some consistency.
4. "The Dow Blah Blah Blah" -- Why are reporters so fascinated with a sleepy 30 stock index that has had to play catch-up over the past few years to remain relevant? Even if I approve of the recent changes the index remains meaningless when compared to the S&P 500 (which rose 0.63% today), the Nasdaq Composite (which rose 3.84% today) and, of course, our own NOW 50 (which rose 1.94% today). It's like a good old boy country club finally opening up to the dynamic growing minority community. Too late. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) please put those petit fours down. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), we're out of here.
5. Shots of the NYSE bell ringing to close the trading day -- For starters, the vibrant after-hours trading community has made that noisemaker more of a dinner bell than the signaling of the end. Heck, it's more like a bell between rounds at a boxing match now. Still, what purpose does the dinging serve? Oh, you mean the East Coast made it to four in the afternoon? Lovely. Unless it chimes like Westminter why show it every single time. Cut away. Please.
6. Agenda jockeying -- Is it just me, or should there be some kind of ethical shift to keep lead underwriters from initiating favorable coverage on the companies that paid them to go public? There is nothing as teethclenchingly offensive as watching an analyst sing the praises of a company sans disclaimer that the firm he works for just raked in millions on some secondary offering. I'll excuse the really good ones like Mary Meeker or ex-Fool Randy Befumo. And, of course, today Henry Blodget gets carte blanche from me. The popular Merrill Lynch analyst upgraded America Online (NYSE: AOL) and initiated buy coverage on eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY). That helped fuel our Rule Breaker collection nearly 11% higher today. Okay, I guess I'm the one agenda jockeying now. Sorry.
7. Lack of news I can use -- Maybe I demand too much out of the broadcast media, but I want more than a polished one-liner on the stocks that had big one day moves. That's why I think the online medium is so much more effective as an educational tool. Sure, I skimped on the current events this time, but you can always head to our News area and immerse yourself in what is relevant to you. I mean, I don't want to cheat you out of today's 15% upticks in AOL and eBay. Blodget indicated that eBay may ultimately command a market cap as high as $125 billion -- that's an impressive six-bagger even from here. (Of course, our own Fool analyst Jeff Fischer described how eBay could have a valuation topping $100 billion in last November's Fool Internet Report, and again in our new Fool Research report on eBay, issued yesterday.) Sustainable 30% net profit margins at eBay? Bid on Fools!
8. Lemmings Inc. -- Okay, so maybe a gullible viewer deserves much of the blame for buying a company touted on a financial show or newsletter. Then again, I'll leave a reputable text job out of this since at least the consumer has some kind of appreciation for the analysis. On the tube it's just as simple as "We think Balderdash is going to double" and the traders dive in. I'd hate to see the lemmings at a restaurant. They wouldn't even open the menu. "I'll have whatever he's having" sight unseen.
9. "It was another wild day on Wall Street" -- Even today, even glorious "yesss!" sessions like today's Nasdaq record setter, was not a wild day. Volatility exists from the most fractional of fractions to huge $20 moves in eBay. That's the nature of the market, not the nature of the beast. Put a quarter in the slot machine, where it's all or most likely nothing -- that's wild.
10. Top Ten Lists -- Don't you hate these? The glossy mag covers are ripe with the "Ten Best Stocks to Buy Now" or "Top Ten Mutual Funds For 2000." Try to put some actual bait on that hook next time, won't you? Where do they get off with the right to stand at the plate and point the bat at the left field wall? In retrospect, they swing and whiff. Ranking things in groups of ten as plate garnish -- what kind of loser would try something like that?