We claim to be a lot of things here at The Motley Fool, but perfect is not one of them. One of the great advantages (or disadvantages, depending how you see it) of running an archived website is that it fosters a certain amount of accountability for everything we do -- online and off.
Take our newly published volume of stock ideas for the coming year, Stocks 2003. We hope every company we choose wallops the market, but that's bloody unlikely. As Bill Mann puts it on Fool.com today, "Successful investing doesn't mean being perfect. Successful investing means recognizing the risks, and if need be, responding to them."
He ought to know. Though the average returns from last year's stock compendium beat the market handily, Bill's pick is off 99.9% -- and we'll take any opportunity we can to mock him. But it's just that sort of experience that pushes us to improve what we do. Stocks 2003 better outlines the risks and exit strategies an investor should be aware of. Essentially, it's a testament to what we learned in 2002 -- and every other year of our existence. Check it out -- surely you're at least curious to know what bomb Bill picked last year.
The FOOL 50 joined the pack of declining market indexes today, falling about 1.5%.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- FedEx Delivers Good News
- Quote of Note
- Make Tax Moves Now
- Shameless Plug: 60-Second Guides
- Micron's Bad Memory
- Discussion Board of the Day: Green Gene Stocks
- Stocking-Stuffer Stocks
- Quick Takes: Halliburton, General Mills , Conseco, more
- And Finally...
Last year, the Memphis-based carrier company benefited from a $116 million reduction in operating expenses resulting from the government's compensation for the air traffic shutdown after Sept. 11. It also recorded a gain of $17 million to operating income, thanks to a tax settlement. Taking these items into consideration, FedEx's earnings improved over last year on a comparable basis, rather than remaining flat.
The real story, though, is FedEx Ground. The delivery service continues to show impressive growth and encroachment into UPS's
In this most recent quarter, FedEx Ground's revenues jumped 27% to $863 million, now making up 15% of its total revenues. Operating margins for the division also ticked up impressively, to 15.6% from 11.8%. The average daily package volume for FedEx Ground grew 25%, and the yield per package increased 2%.
FedEx Ground is the company's fastest-growing and highest-margin unit. FedEx Express still makes up 72% of the delivery company's revenues, but any significant future growth lies on the ground, not in the air.
The company recognizes this and will wisely spend $1.8 billion over the next six years to add more truckers to its network of independent carriers (UPS is unionized). Offering evening and weekend deliveries will also boost Ground results.
Shareholders should be pleased with FedEx's overall results and greatly encouraged by FedEx Ground's contribution. UPS, on the other hand, should watch its back.
"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax." -- Albert Einstein
We interrupt this festive holiday season for an important bulletin: There might be ways to minimize your tax bill for this year, but you must act before Jan. 1.
That leaves less than two weeks to fiddle with your finances, play with your portfolio, and dig up some deductions. Exactly how should you do that? Review the tips in these selections from our Tax Strategies Area:
- Year-End Tax-Planning Tips: The Basics
- Year-End Tax-Planning Tips: Income Planning
- Year-End Tax-Planning Tips: Portfolio Pruning
- Tax Form Changes for 2002
The number of options available to each person varies, but anyone who itemizes their deductions can take advantage of a world-bettering, people-enhancing tax reducer: Make tax-deductible contributions to your favorite charity.
If you don't have a particular cause in mind, or are interested in learning about some outstanding organizations, visit our Foolanthropy page. The featured charities have found many successful ways to mix the entrepreneurial zeal and the giving spirit.
So take time to see if you can save some taxes and support worthy causes. Then you can get back to your festive holiday season, knowing you've reduced your tax bill and improved the world.
Sixty seconds can take you farther than you think. None of us has enough time to do everything we want, and, unfortunately, we put off too many financial decisions. Have you wanted to open up a brokerage account, sock away some money in a CD, start an IRA, or just get out of debt, but not had the time to figure out what to do? Don't be daunted. You can take on all these and many more (are you looking for a mortgage?) quicker than you think. Our 60-Second Guides are here to make it easy, so stop procrastinating.
The worst part about working in the computer memory sector is that you can't forget the past.
Memory maker Micron Technology
It's a different game today. The company is posting a wider-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss to kick off 2003 in uncertain fashion. Recording a massive $316 million loss on sales of $685 million isn't pretty, as Micron is forced into negative gross margins just to keep pace with subsidized competition and falling memory prices.
Yes, memory prices are pretty low right now. Head to your local Best Buy
See, that's the problem. While sales growth has stalled for new computers, so has the perceived need to have fatter memory to surf the Web or run applications. Analysts following Micron didn't think things would end up so poorly. They expected the struggling semiconductor giant to lose only half as much on more than $800 million.
While value vultures might be circling the company right now, things could get even worse. Sure, the company closed out the quarter with $873 million in cash and short-term securities, but with 605 million diluted shares, that's just a cash cushion of $1.44 a share. While this gives the company the flexibility to make it through these lean cyclical lulls, it's anyone's guess when it will turn things around.
So go ahead and stroll down Memory Lane. Just don't be surprised if Micron takes a detour.
While Micron's healthy cash position is small, relative to its market capitalization, some stocks are trading close to the value of their short-term liquidity. Got one to share? Care to find out more? All this and more -- in the Green Gene Stocks discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
If you're looking for a few promising stocks to investigate, you'll find (as always), a treasure trove of ideas right here in Fooldom. For starters, here's a list of 15 companies worth watching and 18 mutual funds with solid track records.
On our discussion boards (free trial available), you'll find thousands of folks talking stocks. Here's a smattering of snippets:
-- On the l'union fait la force board, Fool Community member Douglas403 opined that McDonald's
-- On the Foolish Collective board, you'll find a detailed analysis of MGIC InvestmentCorp.
-- On the Martian Chronicles board, jkm929 launched a discussion about youth-oriented retailers by mentioning an article that suggested, "teenage girls no longer want to look like Britney Spears; now they want to look like Avril Lavigne. As a consequence they've switched from shopping at bebe
Finally, tap the expertise and ideas of Fool analysts. Hot off the presses, you can get more than 10 of our analysts' best ideas for the year to come in Stocks 2003. For at least three investment ideas per month, subscribe to The Motley Fool Select. And for Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner's latest stock ideas, check out their newsletter, Motley Fool Stock Advisor.
Good news for Halliburton
Insurance and finance giant Conseco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, becoming the third-largest company to do so. The filing includes only certain holding companies related to Conseco Finance Corp., and doesn't involve insurance operations.
Pillsbury made some dough, boy, for General Mills
Spurred by the West Coast port lockout, the U.S. trade deficit shrank for the second straight month in October -- down 5.5% to its lowest level since March.
In local news, Denny McMurtry threatened a lockout at the Port O' Belly restaurant if his cooks wouldn't take a pay cut. They refused, he locked them out, but they both had a spare key. Service will resume with dinner at 5:00 p.m.
Today on Fool.com: The Fool remembers a costly mistake and explains what we learned from it.... In Fool's School, some ways kids can earn money.... Don't know what's going to happen in 2003? Bill Mann explains why no one does.... And the Post of the Day: kids say the darndest things.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim