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Interview with Long-Time Fool Rick Munarriz
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By TMFElCapitan
February 2, 2007

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All right, HUGE excitement on El Capitan's blog! Today we have scored an interview with none other than Rick Aristotle Munarriz. First of all, it is a pleasure and an honor to have a senior Rule Breaker such as yourself agree to this written interview for El Capitan's blog. I want you to know that this is my first official interview and I thank you with a great, sweeping, low, jester cap bell jangling bow.

Okay. Onto business...

EC: As all four of my fans (that includes you mami!) know, I have radically overhauled my CAPS portfolio to align my investments with my content generating genius. From now on, I plan on investing, in real life and in CAPS, only in companies involved in the creation and distribution of multimedia content. You, my heritage-mate and friend, are an analyst who has written more articles for TMF than McDonald's has served cheeseburgers. How long have you been writing for the Fool and how many pieces would you say you've written and/or recorded?

RM: I've been writing for The Fool since 1995. Yes, even before Fool.com was up and running I was picking apart food and restaurant stocks as MF Edible for the industry area that was set up on the original Motley Fool site on AOL. How many articles have I written since then. Unscientifically speaking, let's just say "more than 5,000 served" is the sign I hang under my arches.

EC: Tell my fans, which industries do you cover? And why?

RM: Why I cover the industries or why you have fans? Just teasing you, Dan! You're the best. But, yes, Tom Gardner brought me in to cover the food industry in 1995. Then I began to work on a project called Daily Double and Daily Trouble where we would write about stocks that had doubled -- or had been halved -- over the past six months.

It was pretty liberating to cover just about any stock on the planet. I still feel that way. I hate to pigeonhole myself, yet I do find myself writing more and more about Internet and leisure stocks these days. That includes your beloved multimedia picks!

EC: What kind of briefs, if any, do you wear while analyzing the stock market?

RM: Clean ones, I hope.

EC: Since one of the industries you cover includes multimedia content generation, let's stick with that. I believe that the world's greatest multimedia content generators, aggregators and distributors are going to kick huge amounts of ass in the coming decade. Do you agree? And, if so, are you doing so just to curry favor with a blogosphere king like myself or can you back your opinion up with an impressive display of intellectual rigor? If it's the latter, please do.

RM: I definitely agree. I'm always impressed when companies are able to piece things together to make it work that way. For instance, like when The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT) acquired dating sites and launched a site for newlyweds to reach out further into the courtship process. You have a company like CNET (Nasdaq: CNET) that is usually an editorially-driven company getting it too in the Web 2.0 world. For instance, it uses third party content in the form of movie reviews through its Metacritic site to feed into its new Filmspot site for film buffs.

It was awfully hokey to have Time put that foil mirror in as "Person of the Year" but it's true. It won't be long before YouTube rivals major networks in eyeball attraction.

EC: Has covering specific industries been helpful to you as an investor?

RM: Definitely. I got to know restaurant stocks pretty well. I learned when to hop on and when to hop off, just by following something as simple as comps growth trends and expansion possibilities. However, in all investing, there comes a point where you have to make a leap of faith. The more you know, the better oriented you are as to where you are leaping from.

EC: Has covering specific industries been helpful to you in your everyday life?

RM: You know, I also do restaurant and nightclub reviews for Citysearch.com. The offer came through a non-TMF email address, yet I think having a financial background in these industries made it so much easier to pick up on the nuances that separate the great eateries in Miami from the dives.

EC: How long did it take you to write The Poetics? And as a follow up, if I write a play or screenplay in which the action takes more than one full rotation of the earth around the sun, can it still ultimately result in a satisfying tragedy?

RM: Did you know that Aristotle isn't even my real middle name? It was a nickname I used when I had to enter something offbeat when bowling with friends at the electronic overhead scoreboard. It stuck, so when I first started writing on AOL, my screen name was AristotleM. When I changed that to MFEdible I didn't want people to forget that I was still the Aristotle guy who hung out on the MF boards so I took it as a middle name.

In all honesty, I'm as shallow as a philosopher is deep so maybe I'm not worthy. Then again, if Shaq is The Big Aristotle, I think I'm okay.

EC: Now, I'm a man who has roughly 70% of his portfolio in mutual funds managed by Zeke Ashton's Uncle Gary. That's actually true. However, I handle my own individual stock picks. Do you think my idea to focus on a specific industry with the majority of that 30% is a good idea? Or am I just as likely to pass up great companies in other industries?

RM: Well, you're already diversified with that 70% in funds so I think you're not putting all of your eggs in the same basket. Still, it's noble. If you feel you know a sector incredibly well, why not invest as much as possible. It's risky, sure. Yet it has the right ingredients to be more rewarding too.

EC: Do you ever forget how to spell your own last name? I'm good with the solo Z, but I never know if it's two R's and one N or two N's and one R. Any helpful hints?

RM: I've had 39 years of practice, my friend. I'm also used to folks pronouncing it wrong (Moon-R-Is is the right way) and spelling it wrong (can't help you on a trick. Maybe think of R/R railroad tracks to get you going on double-R and everything else is single).

EC: There are so many companies involved with today's media, how do you recommend one go about developing expertise in this industry? For example, do you have favorite Web sites, books, etc., that you turn to for vast sweeping coverage? If so, any off-the-beaten-path suggestions? Or would that be like a chef revealing his secret sauce?

RM: Dude, the special sauce is just mayo and ketchup swirled together. My brain is always free for the picking but you do get what you pay for, unfortunately. If you really want to dive into an area, subscribe to the most popular trade magazine. In the mid 1990s, I subscribed to Nation's Restaurant News to make sure that I was always up on the latest eatery happenings and trends. These days I need a more general New Economy angle so I subscribe to Business 2.0, Red Herring, and Fast Company.

EC: If you were drafting executives to run your own multimedia company, which three would you pick, assuming they could all work well together? For me, I'm taking Reed Hastings, Barry Diller and Steve Jobs.

RM: Put those three in a room and you are NOT going to get a lot done. Let me kiss up to the home team and say David Gardner, Tom Gardner, and Broadway Dan Rubin!

EC: 3rd one is quite brilliant. If you had to put your entire family's wealth and fortune into one multimedia company, which one would it be?

RM: Knowing CNET as well as I have over the past few years, I think that offers the best combo meal of successful brands and untapped potential. I think it shook off its demons in 2006 and I see good things there. Then again, if my family's entire wealth was at stake, I'd probably just invest it in myself.

EC: If you could add an icon to CAPS, what would it be?

RM: You know, I went with the DJ and the turntable because of my musical past. If I had to add an icon, I would add a series of geographical ones. Absent that, Monopoly playing pieces. I was always either the dog or the top hat, myself.

EC: In closing, is there anything else you would like to tell my fans that could help them develop industry-specific expertise?

RM: Get to know the smaller players in your industries. That is where the greater gains often lie AND they are easy to find (Yahoo! Finance has an option to list every public stock in a particular sector -- MSN Money Deluxe screens by sector too).

EC: You do know, that I, uh, am not really the "Capitan" of any physical thing? For example, I don't have a sailing vessel or hover craft.

RM: And I'm not a philosopher! I guess it's fitting, then.

EC: Rick "Howling Moon" Munarriz, thanks for coming.

RM: Thanks for having me over!

 


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