[MSN Investor] The stock of the 1990s.

Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Thu, 30 Dec 1999 00:20:40 -0800 (PST)

Okay, this is my fourth post in my poorly-named "trilogy of market
posts" tonight. But it's interesting that the race for "stock of the
decade" is coming down to a photo finish. Can CMGI pop up enough to
beat out DELL with just a day and a half remaining? Stay tuned...


> Dell Computer (DELL) is the graybeard in the bunch, and at the start of
> the year it looked like it would breeze across the tape at the close of
> trading on Dec. 31 with little real competition. But the stock, which
> started trading in 1988, hit a high of 55 in February and then pulled up
> lame. It sat out most of the amazing Nasdaq sprint this year. Even a
> late-December surge has left it up a miserly 41% through Dec. 27, a far
> cry from its annual average of 135% in the decade.
> For much of the year it looked like America Online (AOL), which started
> trading in 1992, would be the usurper. The stock was up as much as 125%
> by April, then tumbled in a pathetic heap, finally getting up off the
> track in late September after its one-year gain had fallen to 11%. But
> then its seasonal strength kicked in, and by early December the online
> king crested at a 153% gain for the year before slacking off.
> Yet now it looks like youth could be served, as renegade Web
> conglomerate CMGI Inc. (CMGI) -- which went public just five years ago,
> in January 1994 P seems to be the only contender with the wind at its
> back.
> The stock exploded off the blocks with a 132% move in January and then
> hit the 428% mark in mid-April. That would have been a fantastic decade
> all by itself for most stocks, and CMGI took a well-deserved breather --
> winding down to a mere 186% year-to-date rise by late September. But
> just as it had in previous years, CMGI rallied for an awesome autumn --
> and had nailed an 862% one-year jump by Dec. 27.
> The result: Through Dec. 27, Dell was up 89,820% for the decade, CMGI
> was up 85,683% and America Online was up 79,520%. Anything can happen in
> the last two days, so I'll update you on the photo finish early next
> year. (The next-nearest contenders are EMC (EMC), up 66,852% for the
> decade through Dec. 27, and Cisco Systems (CSCO), up 61,916%. By
> contrast, the S&P 500 is up 299% since Jan. 1, 1990 and the Nasdaq 100
> is up 1464%.)


During these final days of 1999, I've been getting a rash of phone calls
and e-mail messages from newspaper journalists, TV reporters, and
concerned individuals, asking for my "latest thinking" and/or "final
predictions" about Y2K -- as if there is some last-minute epiphany that
will make the outcome undeniably clear to everyone. But while there are
now more and more frequent reports and updates on the Y2K situation, I
don't think the "big picture" has changed much at all during the past
year. I still think that the readiness/compliance claims being made by
many organizations and government agencies are optimistic at best. I
still don't think that the U.S. can escape the effects of serious Y2K
problems elsewhere in the world, given the nature of today's
interconnected global economy. And I still don't think the consequences
of Y2K disruptions will be overcome within the short time-frame of a
three-day "winter storm."
-- Ed Yourdon, "Y2K: I Know What I Know"

[He concludes that essay with the following...]

As for me -- an individual citizen, responsible only for myself and my
family -- I can only say that I wish I had been told the truth. I know
enough about Y2K to be strongly convinced that I have not been told the
truth -- and I know enough about the philosophy of government to know
that, common practice notwithstanding, the ideal standard is one of
truthfulness. Even Richard Nixon, a President whose truthfulness was
severely questioned, proposed a standard that I believe would have led
to a more successful Y2K outcome than what we will be facing in a few

"Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth -- to see it like it
is, and tell it like it is -- to find the truth, to speak the truth, and
to live the truth."
-- Richard M. Nixon, Presidential nomination acceptance speech,
Miami, Aug 9, 1968