The Rule Breaker portfolio rose today, although it failed to keep pace with the Nasdaq. Hey, what's new? Did somebody say that midnight precedes dawn?
We the portfolio managers are living through a rather miserable period where it seems as if with every down day we get waxed far worse than the market indices, AND YET... and yet... with every up day, we don't rise AS FAR as the market indices. Or the Nasdaq, at least. What's with this? Woe is we.
Yes, these last four months have been brutal. Brutal! As of market close today, we're up 18.7% for the year... wait, did I say "up"? Force of habit. (And I know I'm speaking for many of you, as well.) No, no, we are DOWN 18.7% for the year, casting glances ahead at the market indices as Private Smiles must have looked wistfully and distantly ahead at Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes... fortysomething lengths back. (Private Smiles finished fourth -- it was one of the great equestrian blowouts of the modern era.)
Please don't think I'm losing perspective, of course, just as I don't think you are either. Regretting a bad month, a bad year -- a bad THREE YEARS -- of the stock market is like throwing War and Peace away because it lost your attention for a few chapters. And some people in these situations swear off Tolstoy altogether!
Speaking of which: If you are a lover of language, someone who cares about the written word, I hope you enjoyed the opening of Bill Mann's Breaker recap yesterday, which is required reading if you missed it. Because "in this market," you need to be armed with information like that. (Hail to the wordwatchers, who will inherit the earth.)
OK, Motley Fool Pop Quiz! You ready?
What present Rule Breaker is the subject of a recent class-action lawsuit?
The answer is, of course Celera Genomics (NYSE: CRA), which got its badge just last week, pinned on it by the esteemed and valued organization so many of us hope our children might one day work for, known as Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach. Let it never be said that lawyers are not imaginative and opportunistic!
Of course, I come forth to you as someone who is ostensibly a litigant. I am angry (no doubt) over the dramatic drop in value of my Celera shareholdings, and wanting (of course!) to hold the company responsible. I am oppressed. I am victimized. I am possibly discriminated against (I'm still checking with my own lawyers about that).
I am a shareholder. A class-action suit shareholder.
Perhaps you don't sympathize with me. Perhaps you consider this a frivolous lawsuit, a nuisance case. Perhaps you question the usefulness of such work. But I would suggest to you that you're ignoring the plight of tens of dozens of short-term speculators who must be particularly unhappy that their three-week spin with Celera spun into a ditch.
We are all in our own ways oppressed, of course.
Sarcasm is the wit of Fools. But if sarcasm isn't your cup of tea, here are two excellent postings to our Celera discussion board summarizing the feelings of our community on this class-action lawsuit:
(Motley Fool interface tip of the day: Did you know you can pop a separate Microsoft Internet Explorer browser window for a link by holding down the SHIFT key before you click? This enables you quickly to peruse a link without having to back out or back up to get back to where you linked from. This daily tip is one for the ages!)
Both postings have high recommendation totals. Don't know about recommendations or how they work? They're my single favorite new tool on our Motley Fool discussion boards? You can learn more at our Discussion Boards Help area.
As you can see, both Kalongo and ElricSeven write about Celera, but their words largely speak to MOST such suits, which inconvenience public companies (and their shareholders) for the benefit of a predatory few.
Enough on that.
So long as today's recap is looking at litigation, let's look at proposed legislation. If you're an investor and not already familiar with Regulation FD, you need to be. Take the five minutes now to read about this SEC proposal that will prevent companies from privileging analysts with information disclosure at the expense (of course) of all the rest of us!
On the one level, it's comic that all along we've been living in a world where a public company OF WHICH YOU MIGHT BE AN OWNER has NOT been required by the letter of the law to honor you with the same information it would give out to an analyst (who may not be an owner at all, and may use that information in ways that do not benefit you). On a deeper level, it's rather sad. We have to legislate for this? Well, if that be the case, join the Fool cause. Read up, and send them your thoughts.
We are told by those close to the effort that more than half of all opinions expressed by private shareholders (average people like you and me) have come from The Motley Fool community. Given our passionate belief in the inherent rightness of this case, I am proud of that distinction and you should be, too. Not an arrogant sort of pride, but rather one that makes you feel good about the world you're leaving to your children. History will recognize we were right.
So it's a tale of two legal actions. Law is a means, not an end. How we use it can benefit millions of people. Remember Cendant (NYSE: CD). But as with a cocktail quip or a wedding dress, it cheapens with overuse.
Finally, eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) announced quarter one 2000 results that topped expectations and showed the company's business continues to grow strongly. You can find out more on this just-announced news from eBay itself. Fool on!