Stocks continue their creep higher. Pundits get, by turns, giddy and morose. It's the same old story. We haven't heard the word "1999" this much since 1982 (or whenever it was Prince hit the scene in that little Corvette of his).

The point is, let analysts (and us) argue over the intrinsic value of eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) and whether technology has gotten ahead of itself -- heck, pitch in your own two cents, too, if you like.

But just make sure you remember the lessons of the last five years: Keep your head, keep your balance, and keep invested.

When it comes to investing for the long haul, pullbacks and sell-offs aren't your two worst enemies -- those would be fear and greed.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

AOL Rattles Rivals

According to The Wall Street Journal, AOL Time Warner's(NYSE: AOL) America Online unit is poised to offer a $9.95 discount dial-up Internet service under the Netscape name. The news didn't budge AOL -- soon to be Time Warner -- shares but slammed United Online's(Nasdaq: UNTD) to the tune of 18%.

United Online's NetZero and Juno brands have succeeded through a combination of low prices and high throughput. The company boasts of year-over-year revenue growth of 312%, 37%, 45%, and 46% for the last four quarters, as well as six straight quarters of positive free cash flow (FCF).

Investors have noticed and bid the shares up to 34 times enterprise value (EV)/EBITDA and 22 times EV/FCF, for a gain of 200% through yesterday's $30.92 close from the 52-week low of $10.74.

America Online's $23.95 dial-up service has shed 2 million subscribers for the year through June 30, while United Online gained 840,000 (Rex Moore provided the update). Not only does America Online face low-priced dial-up competition, but both SBC Communications(NYSE: SBC) and Verizon Communications(NYSE: VZ) press on the high side with telephone-line DSL broadband service at $26.95 and $29.95, respectively. AOL Time Warner's broadband product costs more, requiring a fee on top of the dial-up rate.

This latest move may be a necessary survival strategy for America Online, which has massive brand equity. But time will tell whether the commoditization of access will leave anyone making money.

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Oracle's Hungry for More

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) is still in hot pursuit of PeopleSoft(Nasdaq: PSFT), but is also apparently looking for other acquisition targets. Oracle's management was candid at yesterday's shareholder meeting about the software company's need for outsiders in order to keep growing.

According to the Associated Press, Oracle head Larry Ellison said, "the second-largest U.S. software company after Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) can no longer rely solely on its internally developed products to drive its revenue growth." Even if Oracle is successful with its $7.3 billion bid for PeopleSoft, the firm says it will still prowl for further acquisitions.

When he wasn't referring to his company in the third person, or clarifying its position relative to Microsoft, Ellison was shooting down the possibility that beleagueredSun Microsystems(Nasdaq: SUNW) might be in his sights. Oracle will stick to software, thank you very much, and leave the hardware side of things alone.

So, which companies, then, might Oracle be looking to snap up? Siebel Systems(Nasdaq: SEBL) name continues to be floated as a possible takeover target. Tom Siebel was an Ellison protege, just as PeopleSoft's chief Craig Conway was.

To discover others, Ellison's past proclamations about his competitors may prove prescient. Back in a January 2003 interview with Barron's, Ellison had lots to say about other software companies.

He characterized Siebel and I2 Technologies(Nasdaq: ITWO.PK) as "dying," for instance. He also said that Ariba(Nasdaq: ARBA), Commerce One(Nasdaq: CMRC), and Manugistics(Nasdaq: MANU) are "vanishing."

Ellison did say at that time, though, that BEA Systems(Nasdaq: BEAS) might make a good takeover target at a better valuation. Unfortunately for Oracle, shares of BEA are now higher than they were back then.

No one can say if Ellison will decide to go after BEA despite its price, or perhaps rescue one of Oracle's drowning peers. This is a guy full of surprises, after all, as evidenced by the hostile PeopleSoft bid. Still, with Oracle articulating its growth strategy as one that's contingent upon acquisitions, we'll be in a better position to know what to expect from it in the future.

Quote of Note

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -- Carl Sagan

A Blockbuster Holiday

Classic holiday flicks are all about redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge embraces society. George Bailey realizes that he matters. Ralphie Parker gets his Red Ryder BB gun. The season brings joy to many, and video stores are hoping for their share this yuletide season.

Last night Hollywood Entertainment(Nasdaq: HLYW) posted lower earnings on flat movie rentals. Market leader Blockbuster(NYSE: BBI) reports its third-quarter results later this month amid rumors that Viacom's(NYSE: VIA) Sumner Redstone is looking for a company to buy its stake in the chain.

Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) , meanwhile, has nearly doubled since being singled out by David Gardner back in June in Motley Fool Stock Advisor. But the company's growing ways in a stagnant sector have more to do with its model than industry health.

That's why they're all joining Alvin & The Chipmunks in a hearty rendition of Christmas Don't Be Late. Why? Well, major movie studios are putting up their heavy hitters -- 14 movies that each rocked the stateside box office for at least $100 million in ticket sales will be hitting the home video and DVD market this quarter.

The studios feel the need for distribution speed. Disney(NYSE: DIS) is rushing its summer blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean to an early December release just as the year's top-grossing movie -- Pixar's(Nasdaq: PIXR)Finding Nemo -- hits store shelves in three weeks.

See why retailers and rental companies are looking to fill their stockings with green this season? It's how it should be. All the classic holiday flicks have happy endings.

Discussion Board of the Day: Great Movies

Which of this year's celluloid hits are you looking forward to seeing at home? Have any early indications on the merit of upcoming releases? All this and more -- in the Great Movies discussion board. Only on

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And Finally...

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