Want to look like a billionaire? Buy worthless junk by the truckload.

That's what Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates just did. His investment company, Cascade, bought 3 million shares of Crocs during the fourth quarter.

A 6-million-share sucker punch
Interestingly, this isn't Gates' first purchase of Crocs shares. He and wife Melinda's charitable trust scooped up -- zoom camera, finger upturned -- one-meeelliioon shares last spring. The trust has purchased 2 million more shares since.

I don't understand this. Crocs' business just keeps getting worse. Profits are down. Inventory is way up. But Gates keeps buying. Here's what Motley Fool CAPS has to say:



CAPS stars (out of 5)


Total ratings


Percent bulls


Percent bears


Bullish pitches

415 of 589

Data current as of Feb. 19, 2009.

"The Crocs story is done, played out, kaput, yesterday's news, and thank God. They were an inexplicable fad to begin with, and stories of kids getting their feet caught in escalators didn't help matters. Yeah, some people will still buy them; some people still buy lava lamps, too," wrote CAPS All-Star BSHumphreyII in December.

On the other hand, as bad as this Crocs pick looks, some of Gates' other holdings reveal a taste for deep value stocks, a time-tested strategy that can yield enormous wealth if done right. The highlight reel:


CAPS Stars

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)


Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI)


Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)


McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)


Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP)


Source: Cascade & Gates Foundation filings and CAPS.

That's a strong list. And good thing: Gates may not be crazy, but his portfolio's going to need pain pills and a pack of gauze for all the bleeding that Crocs has caused.

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