Of The Day
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Most recent past comment.

January 22, 1999

Why Internet Stocks?
It's a safer bet than the telephone was, and why....

The root of all internet facts from the value of its stocks to the impact it has is just this: the number of people who are using the Internet is increasing exponentially every year and the full extent of its potential is virtually unknown. The sub theme to the potential of the Internet is also equally vast: as the speed of access for users increases, the amount of time spent on the Internet increases exponentially. So imagine that 1000 people are on the Internet at 33 kbps and then they jump to 56 kbps. The time they spend on the Internet goes up by at least twice, but more often more. The stepping of access speed is akin to the old memory increases: the more you have the more you want. So while the market of the Internet for this past Christmas season looked good, people who know these things know that it was most interesting in its directionality. In December AOL reported 31 million users. But interestingly a majority of them have never even used their original "free" month, or whatever.'s extensive improvements and remarkable name recognition is amazing, but the market it taps into is thousands of times bigger in just the digital aspects than they are now mastering. So their stock at $103 yesterday, free falling from $199 on just January 11, 1999, is a wonderful bargain, even though it 3 to 1 split recently. Microsoft opening at $158 today is still a great bargain, even though it was $95 in September. That market, system software, is repeatingly vast. Upgrades are a must buy. There are so many Internet stocks like those two, pin-pricking vast markets, driven by software with huge repeating customer bases, that the handwriting is on the screen.

And after all of that, there is one more thing that should convince everyone. People really enjoy the Internet. Email. Surfing. Web pages of our own. Research. Shopping the .com's. It's a blast. When something is fun, more and more people like it, and its potential for growth is only limited by the number of people on the planet... buy it. It's the telephone, television, the postal system, blue chips, its the Magellan Fund all rolled into one. Everyone is operating, of course, with investment criteria and old knowledge that evolved prior to the Internet. Most people are listening to Frank Sinatra while the Beatles want to hold their hand. Most of us just don't get it... yet. We just can't hear the music, or we don't want to face it.

The final secret of those Internet Stocks is that they are us. They are not those gray suits in glass towers deciding things like layoffs and profit margins. The Internet, in the end, is really you and me and all of us: our interests, our curiosities, our energies and our willingness to try new things. If I were you, I would always bet on that sort of thing.

Remember, that the task of stringing wires for telephones was a daunting one, but they did it. For the Internet all of that is done. So, it's really happening fast. Maybe faster than we think. And I only mention all of this for two reasons: I'm sick of the Impeachment, and with the falling market, I thought you might need a few encouraging words. If you've been reading this column for a while, you know that we are always right on these things.

And here's a picture that should make you happy that you are where you are and not where it was.


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