Am I really supposed to crack wise after a week in which the Nasdaq fell 10 percent, and so much money drained out of the stock market that it felt like, well, late November all over again? Well, of course I am. It's like that great comic Baudelaire said about the true ironist: You have to be "a disinterested spectator of yourself," especially when your self is watching its nest egg quickly dwindle to "what the hell, blow it all in one big bash!" proportions. Of course, if you've been buying stocks on margin--and I know no regular readers of Moneybox would be doing that--things are much, much worse. Some of those people are probably home right now getting the Lost in America Albert Brooks lecture from their spouses and being informed that they are no longer allowed to use the words "nest" or "egg" ever again, let alone sign on to E*Trade.
OK, things aren't as bad as all that, though after market close today traditional tech stalwart Lucent pre-announced that its earnings this quarter are going to fall well short of estimates, and people started dumping high-priced stocks all over again. In any case, there's always alcohol. And, if you've been saying that this tech-stock boom couldn't continue forever, the glorious and perhaps unbeatable feeling of knowing that at last you were right. So either way, eat, drink, and be merry. Greenspan's still in office.
On to this week's Cocktail Chat!
1. "Before the end-of-the-day sell-off, PC-maker Gateway's stock was actually up on Thursday, despite the fact that the previous evening the company announced that it was going to miss estimates for the quarter. Investors apparently liked the company's honesty about its performance. CEOs everywhere immediately started wondering if they should hold conference calls explaining that their quarters had gone badly 'because I was spending a lot of time in Florida working on my golf game.'"
2. "FreeMarkets, the B2B auction site that was a stock-market darling in the last few weeks of 1999, saw its stock fall by almost a third after GM announced that it would be ending its relationship with the company in favor of competitor Commerce One. Although the company had trumpeted its relationship with GM, it quickly came out with a press release pointing out that GM represented just 10 percent of its business. 'It's only the largest automaker in the world,' the release did not add.'"
3. "If you can keep your head while all those around are losing theirs. ... What goes up must come down. ... Buy on the dip. ... The fire exits are located in the front of the auditorium. Run."
4. "Amazon.com announced that its fourth-quarter revenue would be $650 million, up 170 percent from last year, and more than the company made in all of 1998. Of course, the company also announced that it would lose lots of money in the quarter. Shocked, shocked I am!"
5. "In a short item on a new airline offering high-priced service using corporate jets, the Wall Street Journal said the airline's perks include 'a large work surface, gourmet buffet, and spirits.' Spirits? What is this, 1963? Will the stewardesses be wearing go-go boots?"
6. "Just before Lucent announced that it would miss estimates in the latest quarter, a Lehman Brothers analyst came out and boosted his price target on the company. Ah, finally. A case where there really was no selective disclosure."
7. "Online investment guru Tokyo Joe was sued by the SEC in a civil fraud case. Among the allegations is that Tokyo Joe--listen, he calls himself that--duped subscribers to his e-mail advisory, exaggerating his annual returns by leaving out losing trades. ... Wait a minute. Are you actually supposed to keep track of the trades where you don't make money?"