Before we start, I recently wrote about company mission statements and shared that I couldn't find the mission statement for Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM). A kind Fool sent me the link to the company's mission, which is well stated.
Our topic today is 2001 and the stocks that we currently own. Despite large gains already made this year, these are my three favorite horses going into 2001: Celera Genomics (NYSE: CRA), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), and AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL).
AOL Time Warner
After declining more than 50% last year, our portfolio has already gained more than 20% in January. AOL Time Warner, by far our largest holding, has led at a frenetic gallop. The newly merged company announced a $5 billion share buyback and optimism sent the stock 8% higher on Friday. The shares began the year in the low $30s, and are already in the mid-$50s.
We'd love to see AOL Time Warner pay down its $18 billion in debt. Other than that, I believe that we're holding a long-term powerhouse -- a company with more paying subscribers to various services than any other in the world. AOL Time Warner's projected cash flow, if achieved, could lead to a stock price of about $100 by, oh, about 2003.
AOL Time Warner has promise this year, despite the likelihood of difficult advertising sales and Time Warner's disappointing end to last year. Given a few quarters, the combined company should be able to save enough on costs to compensate for any slowdown in ad sales -- and therefore, hopefully, still reach its cash flow goals in 2001. Later years, when ad sales rise again, could be much more fruitful.
eBay has risen more than 60% since Father Time kicked off the New Year. The company has been written about continually the past two weeks as "the only Internet company still standing with pride." eBay has an excellent and unique business, but this sweeping statement is still a little mis-stated.
Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), Ariba (Nasdaq: ARBA), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), and some others are still multibillion-dollar online businesses. These companies are qualified successes with excellent long-term promise (Amazon probably being the most risky). So, to say that eBay is the only star still shining is silly. Not that eBay hasn't been a star.
The company's management raised revenue projections for 2001, and is confident that it can achieve 50% annual growth into 2005, which, if achieved, would likely make eBay's stock recession-proof. eBay also has business advantages unlike any other company I know. A competitor cannot out-market eBay in hopes of making its 23 million people move to a competing trading platform, and better competing technology alone won't move people en masse from eBay, either.
eBay continues to be my favorite long-term holding. If the business grows as planned, I believe that the stock will command more and more of a premium price as investors realize how difficult it will be for any competitor to supplant eBay as the world's online trading platform. It's like the building of Rome. Once it began to be built in earnest, you couldn't hope for Rome to be built anywhere else instead. So, Rome only expanded.
True to its name, Celera is a company that is working to compress time. What once took months or years in biology, Celera wants to accomplish in days -- and does. The stock has gained 18% this year, largely on news that it will eventually use its data to mine drugs.
Celera has been beaten down to a $2.5 billion market cap at a recent share price of $40. I believe that the intelligence of the people, the technology, and the long-term opportunities at Celera will prove to be worth more than that, despite Celera's modest revenue today.
As for our other holdings: I'm concerned that sales growth at Amazon.com will be slower this year than we thought possible while the company was still so young. That said, if the fourth quarter is predicted to be profitable, the stock will likely have a strong year. (After last year's pummeling, many Rule Breakers could have good years given some legitimate good news at each.)
Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI) is still a start-up of sorts, with very little revenue, so this year we just want to see it monetize its protein database with new business deals, and continue making progress on its drugs in clinical trials for a 2004/2005 drug launch.
For the year just ended, Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) is expected to report earnings per share growth of only 4%. The company is expected to grow earnings per share 16% in 2001, though, and given its drug pipeline, 2002 should be stronger for earnings growth, too. Amgen is one of our Blue Chip Breakers.
Finally, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), our unsung hero, makes me smile. Great company, great brand. Its stock did well in 2000 and its price shows that. Go Starbucks! Keep chugging.
What is your favorite Rule Breaker(s) and why? Share it on the Rule Breaker Companies discussion board under the subject "My favorite Breaker." We'll share your responses here.
A closing lament to the time gods
Now, Fools, I'm conducting analysis to demonstrate that time is, indeed, growing shorter and shorter. Days, months, years -- they're all contracting! The year 2000 was, I aim to prove, approximately 10% shorter than 1999, while 1999, in its own right, was 5% shorter than 1998! This year will be our shortest year yet. I've written a short poem to lament this truth:
Time, you slipped
Motley Fools we all be, sporting motley interests, I trust that you enjoyed the poem. It was inspired by childhood memories when, I swear, a month was a long time!
No more. But Fool on!