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A focused portfolio with 5-15 holdings is supposed to produce superior returns. Yet, with so many excellent companies that are potential kings/gorillas (in addition to the established gorillas), I find that my portfolio looks more like one big mutual fund.

I'd love to get some perspective from successful gorilla game investors on how best to go about adding new potential gorillas without sacrificing the overall returns.

Thanks to all,
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No. of Recommendations: 77

There have been many books, articles and thoughts written on the subject of diversification and what a portfolio of an investor should look like on an 'ideal' basis. There is a lot of information here at the Fool to read as well. There are also a lot of opportunities for gorilla game investors to invest in at the moment. We cannot invest in them all, but below you will see the types of returns one could have had by at least holding a few. Allow me to write my own book below. ;-)

It's hard for me to answer the question since my holdings could qualify as a mutual fund as well. If you play the basket approach in certain areas by getting in early in what appears to be a gorilla game, depending on the time frame involved, performance may not suffer that much provided you have the right choices and you consolidate into the eventual winner. This is not the only option as one can also take an approach of only selecting the single most likely candidate early on, or soon after one candidate takes the early market share lead.

The market is rewarding these candidates earlier on these days than previous years of gorilla gaming. Geoff Moore spoke of this recently on the Gorilla Game listserv digest and said that the model has moved from P/E to P/S and now to P/V (price/vision ratio). Let me share that post with this message thread as well:


From: "Geoffrey Moore"

What capital markets have become better and better at is pricing in market development models that predict outcomes earlier and earlier in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. Think of election night. It used to be you counted all the votes and said who was the winner. Then it was that you counted some of the votes and projected the winner. Then it was that you sampled a key demographic subset and you projected the winner. Now it is you interview a key subset on exiting the polls and declare the winner. The system gets better and better at projecting outcomes earlier and earlier.

Same in the stock market. P/E is an after-the-fact measure. P/S ratios are a market share measure that "assumes" that P/E will follow. Now we have "P/V" (Price/Vision) ratios that assume that P/S will follow and P/E after that. The risk, of course, is that the model is wrong. But if the model is right, then getting in earlier makes sense. That is where the market is headed. It is what we all did with Qualcomm last year, and JDSU --- used our models to act earlier than other investors.

Now, the model could be wrong, of course. But I would argue the correct response then is to change the model, not to bet later.


Geoffrey Moore
Chairman, The Chasm Group
Venture Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures


Let me make the disclaimer on behalf of Mike Buckley (before he has the chance to comment), that Geoff did not capitulate into seeing Qualcomm as a gorilla until end of summer/early fall 1999. He saw it as a possible Prince in a royalty game before changing his mind. Mike and some rather astute investing colleagues called it much earlier (end of March, 1999). Not to mention, Mike finally caved in and capitulated on this past Friday to using the word gorilla for Siebel Systems where Geoff, Silicon Valley and many others were using the term in the middle of 1999. However, Mike was already well invested in Siebel via the gorilla game basket approach in the front office game over the past few years and had his concrete reasons for not crowning it earlier. I became acquainted with Mike on the Siebel message board here at the Fool and respect his strategies, thoughts and vision.

Mike holds around 6 stocks. I hold well over 20 (mixed between portfolios of my wife, myself and my two children) which is the fodder for an endless stream of comments pointed in my 'mutual fund' direction. ;-)

Yet, that doesn't limit both of our strategies of being gorilla game investors or success. Back to Ruben's question. Mike and I would both argue that comfort is an important part of investing. If one feels comfortable holding 5 holdings or if one feels comfortable holding 20 - who's to say that the level of comfort one has in those two approaches isn't more important than comparing the returns? A lot of things are factored into both strategies. I play a few baskets, am more aggressive and invest in things outside of gorilla games as well. If I consolidated my holdings to ten holdings or less, I wouldn't feel 'comfortable' playing my stratgegy of investing in godzillas, B2B stocks, gorillas, potential gorillas and some non technology growth stocks because I couldn't 'cover' the space that I need to cover in a 'comfortable' manner with so few stocks. In that respect, I will sacrifice a little performance for the sake of meeting my comfort zone requirements.

However, even using my 'comfort zone' approach, I would hasten to say that this decade - let alone the past 5 years - hasn't been much of a sacrifice at all. I'm certainly not expecting that to continue forever with all of my holdings, but there will always be opportunities for gorilla game investors going forward to at least have a couple of huge winners.

Now, if we take Geoff's comments from above and think about how the market has been reacting to early on candidates, we can see what has happened to at least some of the favorite gorilla game discussion stocks that are subjects on this board and others. Let's take a look at some 20 month returns since this board started in April/May of 1998. It's not an all inclusive list by any means, but includes 31 stocks that have been discussed by gorilla gamers and godzilla gamers and shows what the returns for that short period of time has been for each investment.

Here it is from top peformer over the 20 month period to the bottom:

CREE - 2038%
Qualcomm - 1780%
Network Appliance - 1492%
ARMHY - 1342%
JDS Uniphase - 1191%
Sandisk - 979%
eBay - 921%
Real Networks - 851%
Broadcom - 816%
DoubleClick - 795%
Yahoo! - 770%
Sun Microsystems - 770%
Gemstar - 692%
Oracle - 629%
i2 - 585%
Siebel - 585%
Brocade - 536%
Citrix - 414%
EMC - 410%
Amazon - 358%
Juniper Networks - 335%
AOL - 329%
Cisco - 327%
Redback Netorks - 294%
Apple - 279% (since it was mentioned recently)
Intel - 187%
Microsoft - 84%
Wind River Systems - 74%
SAP - 65%
Rambus - 44%
Peoplesoft - (-50%)

Certainly a healthy looking bunch of returns for the 20 month period that this board has been available for Fools to chat about gorilla game investing. I'm not sure what it says about the question of how many candidates to hold, but holding at least a few of the top performers over the past 20 months should put some smiles on all of our faces. It says nothing about going forward, but if you compare this list to other investments outside of technology you begin to feel the impact. Some of the stocks above were not available for the entire 20 month period.

Keep in mind, it is only a 20 month snapshot and changing the time period would certainly rearrange the performance returns.

For instance, doubling the time frame to 40 months results in this altered view (although the bottom 4 remain the bottom 4 and once again - some of these companies had not had their IPO yet). Going out 40 months increases the smile factor as well:

Yahoo! - 10311%
Amazon - 4979%
Network Appliance - 3441%
JDS Uniphase - 3259%
AOL - 3255%
CREE - 2688%
Qualcomm - 2557%
ARMHY - 2389%
Real Networks - 2209%
EMC - 1641%
Siebel - 1522%
DoubleClick - 1292%
Gemstar - 1240%
Broadcom - 1218%
i2 - 1167%
Sun Microsystems - 1138%
Sandisk - 1025%
eBay - 921%
Citrix - 855%
Cisco - 852%
Brocade - 536%
Oracle - 534%
Microsoft - 483%
Apple - 373% (since it was mentioned recently)
Juniper Networks - 335%
Redback Netorks - 294%
Intel - 285%
Rambus - 180%
Wind River Systems - 120%
SAP - 65%
Peoplesoft - (-12%)

Going back 60 months (5 years) gives a snapshot of a little longer term holding frames (although, as in the above periods, many stocks below had not had their IPO's yet) and once again opens up the opportunity for really wide grinning from ear to ear - even drooling:

JDS Uniphase - 18420%
CREE - 9400%
Yahoo! - 6811%
AOL - 5026%
Amazon - 4979%
Sun Microsystems - 4622%
Network Appliance - 3998%
Qualcomm - 3510%
Cisco - 3392%
Citrix - 3146%
Siebel - 2775%
EMC - 2569%
ARMHY - 2389%
Real Networks - 2209%
Gemstar - 1320%
DoubleClick - 1292%
Broadcom - 1219%
Oracle - 1178%
Microsoft - 1169%
i2 - 1082%
Wind River Systems - 1046%
Intel - 962%
eBay - 921%
Sandisk - 570%
Brocade - 536%
Juniper Networks - 335%
Redback Netorks - 294%
Apple - 175% (since it was mentioned recently)
Rambus - 180%
SAP - 65%
Peoplesoft - (-12%)

We can draw several conclusions as to how all of this applies to price/vision ratios, investing early, how many holdings to include in one's portofolio, what the market has been saying about these invesmtments in the past and where to look for the most explosive returns going forward in recent IPO companies that might be involved in gorilla games and how it all applies to the technology adoption life cycle.

In closing, let me just point out some longer term returns for the 4 'more mature' Gorillas using the PC technology adoption life cycle and the enterprise networking life cycle as well. I go back to about 1980 since Paul Johnson, one of the three authors of the book, charts the PC technology adoption life cycle as beginning in 1980 on his chart and the enterprise networking technology adoption cycle beginning in 1990. You can view this chart at:

Cisco - 162,670%
Microsoft - 52,232%
Oracle - 46,499%
Intel - 14,115%

After the above 'book' - I'll open it up for discussion.


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No. of Recommendations: 1
Re: Risk vs. the number of stocks:

I thought some of you might be interested in the links provided at the following site:

More specifically, the figure titled "Standard Deviation of Portfolio Return as a Function of Number of Stocks in Porfolio" from Fama (1976) under the section III (More Securities and More Diversification) at:

Try to ignore the technical stuff for a while and concentrate on this plot. This is a classic result for which Fama won a Nobel Prize. It simply states that the more stocks you own, the lower the risk. However, the reduction in risk becomes negligible after 20 or 30 stocks. This is because there are two types of risk. The first has to do with the overall market. This type of risk can not be eliminated. The second type of risk is associated with individual stocks. This you can reduce by diversifying your porfolio. The plot shows that after 20 or 30 stocks, the second type of risk has been virtually eliminated.

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No. of Recommendations: 0
To guickfix:

Your post may contain very good data when investing in the market as a whole. However, risk reduction within the framework of the Gorilla Game is based on consolidation not diversification. Consolidation into Gorillas.

This why it is important to understand the concepts in the Gorilla Game. It is counter-intuitive to consolidate your holdings.

Why would you want to diversify outside the list provided by BruceBrown? To lower your return?

In order to accomplish diversification, would you hold 30, 40, 50 or more stocks?

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No. of Recommendations: 9
ConsultHR asks:

<<< Why would you want to diversify outside the list provided by BruceBrown? To lower your return? >>>

True enough, but there's an important distinction to be made between diversifying within the "Gorilla Universe" and diversifying outside it (with the usual international stocks, US bonds, "blue chips", or whatnot).

Imagine a group of 20 or so Fools who decide to hold only 2 or 3 Gorilla stocks each, under the assumption that their returns won't be "diluted" by owning too many stocks.

Now imagine a 21st Fool who buys a basket of the stocks that the above folks picked...scaled down, of course, so the initial investment is the same. Essentially, the "GorillaDex", as it were.

The 21st Fool will do as well as the average of the others, of course, and with a lot less worry about any individual stock's performance. But he or she will not suffer any kind of dilution effect (ignoring transaction fees), as long as he or she doesn't stray from the kind of stock the others are investing in.

Is this last investor as likely to make 100 times the original investment as the more "leveraged" investors? No. But I'd pick an investment scheme that earned (just for argument's sake!) 25%+/-40% (-15% to +65%) annually over one that earned 25%+/-80% (-55 to 105%) annually. The key is not to pick stocks that lower that 25% (or whatever that "expected return" is, IYO).

I sit here with a portfolio full of JDSU CTXS EMC RFMD AOL CSCO CMGI GMST LGTO NTAP ORCL QCOM SBUX BRCM PUMA ELON SEBL and WMT (and a bunch more "candidates"), and when one drops (LGTO: -67% or so in a month), I can truly say "I don't care; others will make up for it."

[Speaking of LGTO: I bought them a while back because they looked "cheap" compared to VRTS. This was, of course, before I had read the GG. I sure won't be buying whoever's #2 behind NTAP in the NAS market, no matter how "cheap".]

Would I have been better off putting *everything* in my "CallistoPort 2000" (RFMD CTXS GMST NTAP) so far this year? Yep! But much as I like those stocks, I could easily have picked AOL QCOM CMGI LGTO as my faves. For a few hundred extra dollars in transaction fees (spread over a great while), I've helped myself avoid the feeling that I'm missing too many great opportunities. Many folks still try to chase the latest trend and "time" the Gorilla Game, and a broad diversification helps avoid that, IMHO.

Best of luck to all,
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Hi BB,

I confess, I currently have 58 holdings in my port. Thanks for the post, I've been too embarrassed to admit to this madness before.

I'm fairly new to investing (September 1999) in individual stocks, although I have watched some over the past few years. The Internet in general, and TMF in particular has been great; I wouldn't have started investing in Individual stocks without the tools that they provide. I've just recently started reading and participating in these boards. Many thanks to all of you that created and work at the Fool, and to those of you that give generous amounts of time posting valuable information to these boards.

I am obviously not able to closely watch all of these 58 holdings, but I do feel comfortable in holding them all - there are so many outstanding prospects (20 match with the list that you posted). I buy them with a long term perspective, and with the full realization that I may lose some or most of a given holding. However, I do feel very confident about most of them, and don't lose (much) sleep at night worrying about any one in particular. I have recently upped the ante for one stock (NTAP) so that it now represents 9% of my port; the rest are from .5% (doing poorly recently) to about 3% (doing very well) of the port. I will follow it more closely.

I took a financial class a few months back, and what stuck out in my mind was the fact that one small investment in a great stock over time can make up for many not so great ones. Of course, I really try to make all of my investments great ones.

Over all, I'm currently up 33% with an annualized rate of 310% with my current core holdings. I don't expect this rate to continue, but I'm likin' it pretty well now :). I've bought and later sold stuff that I decided that I didn't want after all, for an overall (fortunate and somewhat lucky) gain of 7.6%.

As you may have guessed, I invest a lot in the tech area. I have a bit of an advantage in certain tech areas, being a computer programmer - but not a whole lot. Much of this stuff is new to me, and some of the tech companies (CREE in particular for me) take longer to understand than others (MSFT, although...).

I have just discovered this board and the GG book, which I hope to receive tomorrow. I feel like I've found some confirmation here at the Fool, and on this GG board for the investment style that seems somewhat natural and intuitive for me. It's great!

Thanks, and Fool On eh,
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No. of Recommendations: 13
Harold asked:

Why would you want to diversify outside the list provided by BruceBrown? To lower your return?

Wait a minute here. Let me point out the distinction that I made in my post. Here it is again:

Now, if we take Geoff's comments from above and think about how the market has been reacting to early on candidates, we can see what has happened to at least some of the favorite gorilla game discussion stocks that are subjects on this board and others. Let's take a look at some 20 month returns since this board started in April/May of 1998. It's not an all inclusive list by any means, but includes 31 stocks that have been discussed by gorilla gamers and godzilla gamers and shows what the returns for that short period of time has been for each investment.

Those two phrases in bold are key.

I should point out that 26 stocks came from the Silicon Investor Gorilla and King index and the Watch and Wait portfolio.

"The G&K Index, a grouping of large cap Gorillas, Kings, and Princes with Attitude, can be found at:"

"The G&K Watch & Wait Portfolio, consisting of small and mid cap candidates (courtesy of JRH), can be reviewed at:"

"Advocates of the Gorilla Game approach to investing are invited to introduce candidates for inclusion in Gorilla & King portfolios. Two portfolios have been set up to track valuation changes of our selections based on hypothetical investments of $10,000 in each component at their 1/4/99 closing prices. Note: Only Registered SI users will be able to access these portfolios. You can register for free from the SI Home Page.

There was an entire project that revolved around assembling and updating those two indexes for January 1, 2000. They are both also not 'all inclusive' and the exercise of choosing what went on involved a survey of thread members personal portfolios as well as percent held. To say that there are no other stocks involved in the technology industry that are not involved in a possible gorilla game would be ridiculous. It's a vast sector and we learn as we go.

The other five I had in the list of 31 were Godzillas of the Internet space (Yahoo!, AOL, Amazon, DoubleClick and eBay) and shouldn't be confused with the gorilla game. Of the other 26 stocks, some are gorillas, some are candidates and some are in a royalty game. I just randomly chose the 31 stocks since they have received a lot of attention. It is not an 'all inclusive list' as there are many, many others that could have been on the list as well. In other words, I caution that my list is no 'rule or mean' to be judged by when picking investments.

As far as diversification, I would think that the best way to diversify would be to hold stocks in different technology adoption life cycles. If one was only invested in the PC technology adoption life cycle, or only in the enterprise networking technology adoption life cycle, or only in the next generation networks technology adoption life cycle - well you get my point. Perhaps a basket of 5 gorillas that cover all three cycles (gorilla candidates in terms of the new cycle) might cover ones bases pretty well.

No where in The Gorilla Game book do the authors say all investments one holds must be in technology gorilla games only. Don't assume that. However, the stocks or percentage of one's portfolio that happens to be invested in high technology should be directed towards the gorilla game and how the technology industry works. I'm an advocate of holding investments outside of technology as well. There are some great businesses and some great investments that are miles from being technology investments which meet my own personal criteria.

Back to the question of 'why play the gorilla game in high technology?'. Here are just two examples.

Here's the PC technology adoption life cycle returns from end of 1979 going into 1980 to yesterday's close (20.2 years and gorillas in bold):

Microsoft - 52068%
Dell - 37,189%
Sun Microsystems - 20,038%
Intel - 15,527% (a heck of a lot more if you go back just a few more months, let alone years before 1980)
Compaq - 5,810%
IBM - 621%
Apple - 578% (chimp)

You see that not only gorillas, but some royalty plays in the value chain were able to profit from the life cycle as well (not to mention investors).

Enterprise Networking April 20, 1990 (when Cisco went public) to yesterday's close:

(The four tornado events of routers, intelligent hubs, LAN switches and remote access devices makes it impossible for me to show the same comparison as the PC industry since so many acquisitions took place. In a lot of cases, Cisco would have purchased the competition and your shares would have been converted into more Cisco stock. However, this is an excellent technology adoption life cycle to study because of the current entry into the next generation networks life cycle. The book covers the entire decade for Cisco very well, but for brevity's sake here - the return of Cisco speaks volumes.)

Cisco - 162,123%
Cabletron - 1310%
3COM - 981%
SynOptics/Wellfleet - Bay Networks
Network Peripherals
US Robotics (acquired by 3COM)
Grand Junction

Now we have the next generation networks technology adoption life cycle going on and ahead of us. If the previous networking is any indicator of what the next generation networks tornado will be like - we can expect a similar game of consolidation, positioning that may or may not lead to a dominant player in each of the distinct areas. However, Cisco is certainly going to be a part of the game. It's going to be a very exciting five or six years (maybe more) going forward for gorilla game investors in this cycle. That's why I have been spending a lot of time studying the space and posting links about it.


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Too often we have a tendancy to overload our portfolio with stocks we know nothing about. Take some time and look at each one on its own merits. You'll find then, when looking at a few good ones, you don't need alot to get ahead. Study their earnings and spending. If they're spending and have good earnings you have a good chance of having a winner.

Dizzy Tulip
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All of this reinforcement of the top and well performing companies is great for those who already own.

Could anyone please direct the rest of us to information on:

1. buying in after huge growth – i.e. CREE is exploding – how do you put a value on it?
2. buying in before huge growth – where are those little knowns of which we want to build a basket?

help please :-)

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No. of Recommendations: 7
You are correct in observing that in today's world, the gorilla's are not so clear cut and obvious as a few years ago when INTC, MSFT, CSCO and a few others ruled a simpler jungle. When my wife and I read the book, we realized that our portfolio was not as focused on the winners or gorillas as it should be.

You will have to determine what companies are gorillas, chimps or kings, because new technologies have produced a more fragmented range of choices.

We would like to just review what we applied from the book to our portfolio.

1) We started by trying to buy the leaders in various fast growing fields. For instance in CRM software, SEBL seemed to offer the best product, had a great balance sheet and terrific growth. In security, CHKP had similar attributes. NOK was the clear leader in cellular phones. TXN was the leader in DSP's. CSCO and INTC remain in the portfolio as silverback gorillas. ORCL seemed poised to lead in software that enabled internet commerce. Other investors may have different ideas.

2) Then, as we saw that our choices were correct, we added to our holdings of companies that we thought would grow the most. We think this is the key. We have added several times to SEBL, CHKP, TXN, NOK and others. Whatever companies you own, if they are doing well, have continued prospects for growth and dominance in their market, then add to your position. The Gorilla Game suggests selling the losers to give yourself the capital to buy the winners. What we did was sell mutual funds to plow that money into our winners. Either way, focus on your winners. Do not make the mistake of allocating capital based on past growth (don't look in the rearview mirror), try to focus on what areas of technology are going to grow the fastest and what companies will take advantage of that growth.

3) By adding to your winners (gorillas if you can identify them), your portfolio will naturally evolve into a gorilla game as the winners appreciate and you add to them. It is an evolutionary process. Few of us can just wake up and out of the blue pick 5 companies that are surefire gorillas and then buy those companies and nothing else. The book does not suggest that. It does suggest buying the candidates in an enabling technology, adjusting your portfolio each quarter and adding to your gorilla designates.

4) Our portfolio has about 32 stocks in it, but 55% of the value is in our top five holdings, and nearly 80% is in the top ten holdings. It is not a pure gorilla game portfolio ... but it is getting there. The companies that aren't in the top ten, are pharmaceuticals, financials, gorilla wannabes, etc because we have chosen to not have a pure Gorilla portfolio. But just the nature of adding to your winners IF they have great growth prospects and dominate their field, will produce a gorilla type portfolio.

5) If you can't figure out who the winner will be, buy the chimps. Then allocate your capital to the chimp who may become a gorilla.

6) one of the best things the book taught me was what to read and how to process it. I can't say enough about the value of subsribing to The Red Herring, I hadn't even heard of it till I read the book. Others will have their opinion about what magazine or newsletter is best, but for the money, I have gotten more out of Red Herring than anything else. The section in the book on what to read is excellent.

Hope this helped. I am sure that some will say that our version of the Gorilla Game is not exactly what the book suggests. It is up to each of us to determine the comfort level we have in allocating our investments. One thing is clear, when you do find a gorilla, keep adding more of it to your portfolio. That is the key.

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I've just read through this thread. Wow! Thanks to all who have made sound recommendations, shared valuable learnings from personal experience, and have been careful to emphasis that each of us needs to do our own research and make our own choices. We have a great bunch of Fools willing to help others. I believe this thread represents almost all the benefits TMF envisioned for this site. My sincere thanks.

I have one question: what is the Vision in the P/V (Price/Vision)ratio?

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No. of Recommendations: 1
I go with the kiss philosophy.
1) Look for companies that are highly rated by Zacks (buy-strong buy).
2) Take only companies with a 5 yr earnings growth rate of 40% or higher and have sound fundamentals, good net profits etc.
3) If possible invest in the leader in the industry.

I applied this method last july and found CTXS,CREE,RFMD, chart them against the Nasdaq or other stocks and judge for yourself.
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Thanks for the excellent post. I had to repeat a point with which I strongly agree:

6) one of the best things the book taught me was what to read and how to process it. I can't say enough about the value of subsribing to The Red Herring, I hadn't even heard of it till I read the book. Others will have their opinion about what magazine or newsletter is best, but for the money, I have gotten more out of Red Herring than anything else. The section in the book on what to read is excellent.
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Thanks to all for the great input.
Special thanks to Bruce.

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I just finished the book. Where is the P/V calculation? Can you calculate it and how?
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I apologize for a reply so late that it must seem out of place. However, one way of narrowing down the list might be by "relative strength" over the last year or so. I am not sure this is the best way, but I would be interested in rebuttals.--Cass
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