OK, so let's see, was the Nasdaq up or down 4% today? That's the way to view the markets, this year.
Oh, down 4% today. Oh, well.
Last year featured more days of 1%+ moves up or down for the stock market than any year in recent memory. This year, things are more extreme. With an almost frightening regularity, the market these days zooms up and down multiple percentage points within a matter of hours.
I wrote, "almost frightening." Because the Foolish investor is not frightened, thinking and investing for the long term. Whether the Nasdaq is up or down 4.4% matters much less to someone who treats the public markets by and large as a long-term savings vehicle. This is in contrast to other vehicles we might be thinking of: the roller coaster, let us say, or another popular amusement park feature, the bumper cars. Those are fun -- really, quite fun -- for a day. But they are not vehicles to which you should hitch up your long-term savings.
Celera (down 13%), Excite@Home (down 9%), eBay (down 8%), and Amazon.com (down 6%) were all stocks that fell more than the Nasdaq today, pulling down the Rule Breaker portfolio to a loss of 5.41%. That loss, in excess of the Nasdaq's, looks even worse alongside the more gentlemanly Motley Fool NOW 50 index, which drooped just 1.52% today.
Celera's (NYSE: CRA) Craig Venter did a Webcast today, stating some metrics for his company's quest into proteomics. Those biotechnoligically inclined among us will know proteomics as the study of proteins, their origination, functions, and interactions within our body. Every gene that is "turned on" codes for a certain string of amino acids which makes up a protein, whose job might be anything from growing your toenail to helping you think long-term about investing.
Genes lead to proteins, and proteins lead to medical solutions -- many of which will exist in the future thanks to the work of proteomics. According to marinesci in our Celera message board, "Venter said that [Celera's] proteomics facility will be up and running in about 6 months with machines that can process 30,000 samples/hour. They intend to produce antibodies to every human protein." These are extremely ambitious aims that no one may ever fully realize, but you can see the company's next-generation focus in the chief science officer's words.
Like many Rule Breakers, Celera will be spectacular to watch even if (as it did today), the stock spectacularly flops. I don't believe much of the stock's move today was reflecting the proteomics announcement. With about 2 million shares a day trading on a stock near $100, that $200 million of daily dollar volume represents a lot of day trading and speculating. The float on the stock is just 38 million shares, which means every 19 days the entire float is being traded.
I wonder how many of those people know what proteomics is....
And thereby hangs a tale.
We had a caller to our radio show a few weeks ago who asked about a stock, and we did a very anti-financial-radio thing to her. We asked her why she was calling US to ask what she should do with HER stock. The Foolish philosophy has, at its root, the notion that YOU should be in charge of the decisions you make over your money. And, as a corollary, make sure that where you put your money is something you understand well.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here because so many of you do think this way and demonstrate it through your great contributions to our discussion boards. But whether it's day traders who don't know what proteomics is or I, in fact, who at some given moment may not be as informed about one of my companies as I'd like, we must all work harder to make sure we know enough to be prepared to TELL other people about our investments, not ask them what we're invested in.
Occasionally, we pause to remind you here (as we do many places elsewhere) that we are not experts. Indeed, after Brian Lund's piece here last night about Amazon's bond offering, we got some critical reaction from those who know bonds better than me and possibly, I suspect, better than Brian. (One particularly critical reaction was this one.)
We recognize that as we write about our companies, new technologies, etc., some of you will ALWAYS be more informed than we are on WHATEVER topic. This is even more reason not to rely on everything you read, whether it's at The Motley Fool, in the New York Times, or just got read off on the air by Peter Jennings. (Or CNBC.) But through the interactivity of discussion boards, we can come closer than ever before to a better understanding. And I know Brian and I and everyone at The Motley Fool have so many of you to thank for your constant feedback, whether praise or criticism.
I had another thought or two about a "world of no experts," which I included in this post, if you're interested in further reading. For now, Fool on.
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