Following today's 5.5% decline, the Nasdaq Composite is 34% below its recent record high. This is great news for some Fools. Those who didn't begin investing until after 1987, you no longer must hear those Wise windbags pontificate that "people investing today [insert hacking cough] don't even know what a stock market decline is all about!"
That's no longer true. Everyone investing today now knows.
So, what do declining stocks mean to you now that you've experienced it? Will you spend less money on your entertainment and meals? Will you cancel your two week jaunt overseas? Will you sell your clothes on eBay? What about your cat?
Hopefully, declining stocks won't mean any of these things to you. Hopefully, you are only investing money that you won't need for another five years or longer. You haven't invested cat food money, or money that you need to buy clothes this fall. You've only invested hard-core savings. Likewise, you have not borrowed too much money using margin to buy stocks. As long as you haven't done these things, the decline is something that you will simply wait out as long as you believe in the value of your investments. Declines are a natural part of the process.
"Yeah, yeah," you may be saying, "quit blabbering. Where is David Gardner with his follow-up article on Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) like he promised?"
Yes, yesterday David began to discuss our most beleaguered holding, Excite@Home. Today he was going to continue. Instead, yesterday's column resulted in an e-mail from Excite@Home and the arrangement of correspondence between us and them.
We're going to talk with Excite@Home's Executive Vice President of Consumer Broadband Services and Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Byron Smith, tonight, and we will share our correspondence with you in this column tomorrow. Essentially, David has taken some of the thoughts that he was going to write about tonight, presented them to Byron Smith instead, and tomorrow we will have not only David's questions, but Mr. Smith's answers, too.
Much better, no? I think so. If you own Excite@Home, this should be insight-giving. If you don't own the stock (like me), perhaps you'll start to discover a new opportunity to purchase it at lower prices.
So, Excite@Home's Byron Smith will "be" here tomorrow.
Now, back to today.
There is no explanation for the stock market's behavior, just like we don't try to explain the stock market when it rises sharply on many days. It simply fell today.
You'll hear all of the usual "reasons" behind the decline from news sources that deliver the same reasoning again and again: "Concerns about interest rates made stocks fall." The next day: "Interest rate relief made stocks rise." And ad nauseum. Generally, this is all noise. Nobody knows what will happen next, and nobody knows exactly why today "happened." Does this uncertainty worry you? Don't let it. If you have your health, family, friends, freedom, and you ate today, you have more than so many other people.
Stocks, meanwhile, will simply rise and fall -- and then rise again, sometimes years later.
There is something to celebrate right now, however, if you're invested in the Nasdaq. You are a seasoned veteran of declines now -- congratulations! A year from now, we might see T-shirt's saying, "I survived the fall of 2000." Consider this running tally from Reuters:
Ten largest Percent Decreases on Nasdaq Date Percentage Decline 10/19/87 -11.35% 04/14/00 -9.67 10/20/87 -9.00 10/26/87 -9.00 08/31/98 -8.56 04/03/00 -7.64 04/12/00 -7.06 04/10/00 -7.06 10/27/97 -7.02 03/27/80 -6.15
Four of the Nasdaq's largest single-day declines in history took place in April. Today's 5.5% decline didn't make the list. Maybe we will tomorrow. Or maybe not. (As I wrote in Drip Port today, if stocks continue to decline at this rate every day, we'll be at 0 in a number of weeks!)
In the bluster of today's decline, some good news for companies and investors in the online world crossed the wires: the U.S. House approved a 5-year Internet tax moratorium (bravo for Amazon, and so many others).
For other Foolery, today the Fool launched a Graduation Special that helps college graduates start on the right foot. Send it to a graduate! Next, if you want to smile or laugh, visit Fun & Folly, a new area devoted to amusing you. (Hey, we make fun of Amazon.) Finally, Drip Port is deciding between PepsiCo and Wrigley.
If you want to discuss Rule Breaker-ism, visit the discussion boards linked below. We're always surfin' and lookin' for good conversations to join. Meanwhile, keep yer wits about ya and enjoy your time on this blue Earth.
--Jeff Fischer, TMF Jeff on the boards.