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Author: TMFOtter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 88986  
Subject: Re: Devils advocate on portfolio closures Date: 2/18/2003 10:01 PM
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Dear Nphrn-

Would you like to buy a vowel?

Thank you for your post, and we're happy that you've found so much value from the portfolios. I think that they've been incredible tools. Ones whose times have passed.

You ask a few questions. They basically focus on this: "It's the performance, right?" The answer is no, it's not. We spent a tremendous effort in the past year revamping the Rule Maker portfolio, someting that we absolutely, positively would not have bothered to do if it was "just about the performance".

As for why the portfolios cannot just run in the background -- we've tried that in the past after Dale Wettlaufer left in 1999 with the Boring Portfolio. It was a failure. The time it takes to track the companies in the existing portfolio are substantial. Tom and David Gardner don't have time to do it, I don't have time to do it, and neither do the other portfolio managers. Were this our only job that would be a poor excuse. It isn't. So we have a choice -- do a lousy job managing these portfolios, or don't do it at all. You must excuse us for not viewing the first choice as tenable. And no, Tom & David haven't had a problem with the management of the ports. If there were actually a problem with the management of the ports you'd see, ahem, a change of managers, not a shutdown of the ports. They were not the originators of the decision to do so.

For a substantial amount of time we've struggled with what to do with the portfolios -- though this decision is obviously new the discussion that preceded it is more than 3 years old. The amount of work required of each writer is at times overwhelming -- and the first thing to suffer has been management of the portfolios. That's just reality, and that's not acceptable.

I think that you're assuming that we are somehow going to stop talking about stocks, selecting stocks, or tracking our own performances. This you should not assume. But if there were any friction in the portfolios it was that each manager looked at the composition and said "Wow, there is no way in HELL that my REAL portfolio would only contain these kinds of companies." This was yet another intractable problem for which we never found a solution that fit in with our business.

So we've made this decision, and you're rightfully regretting the loss of the Fool you knew. We're changing how we do things, but we are not changing what the Fool does. And the strategies are in no way going away.

Foolish best-
Bill Mann
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