At long last, after 10 years and more than 200 episodes, NBC's Friends is taking its final curtain call tonight. The show garnered 55 Emmys during its run, and each of its six regular cast members made $1 million per show in their final contract. NBC is making some dough, too -- reportedly $2 million for a 30-second ad spot for tonight's finale.

But what about you? What kind of money could you have made during Friends' run? Here's a look at where the major stock market indexes stood when the show began on Sept. 22, 1994 and where they finished yesterday:

Dow S&P 500 Nasdaq
Sept. 22, 1994 3,837.13 461.27 760.01
May 5, 2004 10,310.95 1,121.53 1,957.26
Total Return 169% 143% 156%

If you'd invested $10,000 in an unglamorous Dow Jones Industrial Average index fund, and just watched the antics of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe while the market went through boom and bust, you'd have about $27,000 sitting in your Central Perk. That's a lot of java.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

A Dot -Com IPO!

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

Did you hear about the latest Internet IPO? No, it's not Google. It's, taking a ride on the Google coattails. The PC Mall(Nasdaq: MALL) subsidiary filed to go public yesterday.

What's this? A direct marketer with an established site like PC Mall spinning off one of its online appendages? Woo hoo! Let's party like it's 1999. It does have a bubblicious ring to it, but you can't blame PC Mall.

Last night, the company reported sales growth of 18% overall, while the top line for its site surged a full 60%. also produced sequential sales growth. Not impressed? Hey, we're talking about doing better in the March quarter than in the seasonally strong December quarter.

Still, it will be interesting to see what the market ultimately pegs as a fair value for After all, while it's a fast grower, it produced just 14% of PC Mall's first-quarter revenues.

In fact, is cut in the mold of Hidden Gems pick OSTK) with its emphasis on bargain-priced merchandise and closeouts. Over the past few months, the site has started selling everything from video games and housewares to jewelry and DVDs.

So does Google's pending debut mean that we'll see a ton of dot-com upstarts rushing to go public? Let's hope not. Internet companies that have done so are showing mixed results. Former Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX) has fared well. Travel portal Orbitz(Nasdaq: ORBZ) is trading essentially where it was the day it went public. iPass(Nasdaq: IPAS) has seen its shares more than halved from last year's highs.

Fortunately, unlike in the go-go '90s, the companies going public today have established track records, proven business models, and in some cases, actual profits. Don't replace that lemonade stand with a tulip bulb nursery just yet. The companies that have made it this far have earned it.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz would file to go public if he only knew where that file was. He owns shares in Netflix but no other companies mentioned in this story.

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Spidey Hits a Triple

By Seth Jayson

You just know it's an important issue when congressmen try to claim it in the name of patriotism and national security. The latest and most dangerous threat to America as we know it is -- prepare to be horrified --a 4 by 4-inch Spiderman 2 logo.

Granted, that logo -- promoting the joint Marvel Enterprises(NYSE: MVL) and Sony(NYSE: SNE) project -- is scheduled to appear in the middle of the bases during Major League Baseball games from June 11-13. The ad will not, however, appear on home plate.

That hasn't stopped overly dramatic political opportunist, Washington Congressman George Nethercutt, from wrapping himself in the flag to make the following criticism: "At a time when so many Americans are risking their lives to protect our values and traditions, I would hope Major League Baseball would do everything possible to protect our national pastime."

To judge by the rest of the headlines, Nethercutt isn't the only one who seems to think that baseball's purity is at stake.

Purity? What game are they watching?

It's disingenuous ( to say the least) to cry about a nearly invisible insignia while at the same time the ballparks are named for corporations, they're absolutely lousy with billboards, and the center-field jumbotrons flash ads for the likes of Anheuser-Busch(NYSE: BUD) and Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO) -- both available in one-gallon tubs for eight bucks a pop -- with seizure-inducing frequency.

Who even remembers that the thing out there was once a scoreboard? Who will even notice the subsequent on-base ads that are sure to follow? No one, which is why Marvel and Sony deserve credit for being the first to get on the bag. (Though, to be honest, their deal pales in comparison to the ingenious scheme concocted by one Fool.)

Is nothing sacred to us greedy stockholders? Shouldn't we bemoan the growing influence of filthy lucre in America's Pastime? Let's just say that with revenue inequities running rampant, the $3.6 million Spiderman deal is the least of Major League Baseball's many money issues.

Sony, Marvel, and baseball have the same goal: putting butts in seats. This deal, enhanced by the media-generated controversy, will help do that, and it will be good for all three.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson won't be contributing to Representative Nethercutt's senate campaign. He owns shares of Marvel. View his Fool profile here.

Qu ote of Note

"Wise men make proverbs, but fools repeat them." -- Samuel Palmer

News Corp.'s Foxy Quarter

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Is Rupert Murdoch gearing up to be an American Idol? Australia's News Corp.(NYSE: NWS), which owns Fox Entertainment Group(NYSE: FOX) as well as a collection of media properties the world over, reported some healthy signs for investors today. With double-digit gains across most areas of its stable of media offerings, which include film, TV, newspapers, magazines, and book publishing, News Corp. had some good news to share.

A quick look at third-quarter numbers reveals that revenues increased 19% to $5.2 billion, with net profit up a whopping 69% to $465 million, or $0.32 per American Depositary Receipt. Operating income grew 22% to $838 million.

DVD sales for News Corp.'s movie production unit played a part in the company's sales, with flicks like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen helping things along. Operating income for the film segment was one of the few areas that only showed single-digit growth, up 6% to $214 million. In addition, love it or despise it, American Idol was still a big part of the success, and Fox News Channel continued to be a popular pit stop for channel surfers and news junkies; the company's television segment sales increased 25% to $259 million.

News Corp. said it plans to launch another Fox channel in the near future. Moving right along, it has a controlling interest in satellite operator DirecTV, which continues to add subscribers at a good clip. The company is not without plenty of media rivals, including Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Time Warner(NYSE: TWX), Disney(NYSE: DIS), and Viacom(NYSE: VIA). Recently, while advertising has been a bright spot, Time Warner continued to have problems with its America Online unit and Viacom reported good news, though investors still await the spinoff of its albatross, Blockbuster(NYSE: BBI). And, of course, Disney has had one controversy after another.

The revitalization of advertising has been obvious as all manner of media companies are reporting pretty robust numbers lately, so it's hardly surprising that News Corp. is showing some of the same. It handed out an upbeat view for the rest of the year, anticipating operating income growth in the 17% to 19% range, a much more upbeat view than its previous call for single-digit growth. With plans to reincorporate here in America later this year, News Corp. stock may soon discover some new fans in the New World.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. She still misses Fox's X-Files -- that is, before it jumped the shark.

Di scussion Board of the Day: American Idol

American Idol fans, look no further. Love it or hate it, other Fools are talking about the hit reality TV show on the American Idol discussion board. So join in. It's the liveliest debate you'll find around. Only on

Mo re on Today

Selena Maranjian thinks you should give these classic companies some consideration for a spot in your portfolio. Find out more in 10 Blue Chips Worth a Look.... Ever wonder why those pesky retail cashiers keep asking for your ZIP code and phone number? Rick Munarriz says there is a whole lot more information about you than you think. Read on in Too Much Information.

In other news:

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