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:
|Sept. 22, 1994||3,837.13||461.27||760.01|
|May 5, 2004||10,310.95||1,121.53||1,957.26|
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!
- Shameless Plug: Broker Center
- Spidey Hits a Triple
- Quote of Note
- News Corp.'s Foxy Quarter
- Discussion Board of the Day: American Idol
- More on Fool.com Today
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
Did you hear about the latest Internet IPO? No, it's not Google. It's eCOST.com, taking a ride on the Google coattails. The PC Mall
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 eCOST.com site surged a full 60%. eCOST.com 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 eCOST.com. After all, while it's a fast grower, it produced just 14% of PC Mall's first-quarter revenues.
In fact, eCOST.com is cut in the mold of Hidden Gems pick Overstock.com
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
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.
If you want to buy stocks, you're going to need a broker. And who wouldn't want to own stocks? There is no place over the past 100 years where your long-term savings would have fared better than the stock market -- not in bonds, not in real estate, not in gold, and certainly not in Beanie Babies. Our Broker Center makes it super-easy to pick the right broker for you, so check it out!
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
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
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.
"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.
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
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.
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 Fool.com.
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:
For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.