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Author: TMFMycroft Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 157015  
Subject: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 4:14 PM
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Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar

I will try from now on to bring the lessons that I have learned from studying Philip Fisher to the message boards in order to try and help the small investor understand some of the wonderful things that can be learned from the Grand Master. This will be my attempt to give something back to Philip Fisher who has influenced my life in such a big way. Every page of "Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits" has something to offer. The ability to see through the meaning on each paragraph, take years of study and experience. Hopefully I will be able to shed some light on what I have learned in the last 17 years of being a Fisher Analyst.

I will attempt to teach Fisher by using the following companies as they are of key interest to me from as an Analyst.

Cisco Systems
Qualcomm
Microsoft
Intel
AMD
Nokia

You will notice that all these companies are technology companies. Well for those who don't know Philip Fisher concentrated on Technology companies for most of his career. He was fascinated by them and as I get older, I too have become more and more fascinated by them as well.

Now let us proceed with our Journey into analyzing the work of Philip Fisher.

On page 174 of "Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits"

There is a passage that I find vitally important for every investor to learn;

http://www.foolmart.com/Shopping/Product_view.asp?PRODUCT_ID=047111927X&REF=PGS


" In the business world there are but two ways a company can protect the contents of its honey jar from being consumed by the insects of competition. One is by monopoly, which is usually illegal, although, if the monopoly is due to patent protection, it may not be. In any event, monopolies are likely to end quite suddenly and do not commend themselves as vehicles for the safest type of investing. The other way for the honey jar company to keep the insects out is to operate so much more efficiently than others that there is no incentive for present or potential competition to take action that will upset the existing situation"


Lets discuss each company individually as it relates to the above Fisher paragraph.

Intel = is the powerhouse in it's industry, but it is having problems lately because its competitors are breathing heavy down their neck for they have failed in what was always their "secret to success". That being to come out with products that are more advanced then anyone else and to always stays one step ahead of the competition. Unfortunately they have lost that advantage and are forced to play catch up. Whether the P4 will allow them to gain the lead in processor speeds again is yet to be seen. They have such a huge market share that they can afford to make mistakes and still do very well. The honey jar of market share will depend on how efficient they will become. They must be able to bring products forward which are more innovative then their competitors and use their "economies of scale" to crush the competition. That's the way they did it before, but times are different now and they must attack and use their huge R&D budget to stay one step ahead of the pack. It is their game to win or lose in the end

AMD = Is a company that always used to play catch up to the mighty Intel, but now they are beating them on the innovation and on the efficient pricing front. What they still lack though is the power of "Economies of Scale". This cannot be achieved over night but must be gained by expanding constantly and building more factories. I don't see AMD slowing down at all in their attempt to beat Intel. Whether they succeed or not will depend on Intel itself. If Intel does not come to the market first they will allow AMD to get first crack at being installed in the computer companies newest products, thus increasing AMD's trademark and weakening Intel's. This will be a fascinating battle, which will take years to play out. Who will win, I don't know but if Intel doesn't wake up they will find themselves in trouble for AMD is very hungry indeed.

Qualcomm = I am fascinated with Qualcomm for they are such a unique animal. They have such a command of the next big technology in Wireless "3G" that they are sitting in the catbird seat. The warning that Fisher makes above about Monopolies is no more relevant then it is for Qualcomm. The company is basically showing us that they are willing to take the risk of splitting off all other businesses and becoming a sole CDMA royalty house. 3G will be huge and if QCOM's gamble pays off then their investors will do quite well. They have decided to bet the farm on their ability to protect their patents. This increases the risk for the investor but also increases the potential windfall if management is right. Management has done an amazing job of protecting their patents to date. The success of the company will depend on them being able to do so in the future. To date I have not found any way for the competition to bypass this company. Everyone who will use 3G will have to pay QCOM, end of story! Whether this continues will depend on QCOM. They are the masters of their own destiny.

Cisco Systems = has taken a unique approach to their business. They have stopped the competition from going after their honey jar, by simply buying out the competition. This strategy has been highly successful because of the management team lead by John Chambers is extremely efficient with a capital "E". I have always been waiting for the day when they will make a mistake and buy a lemon. The number of deals that they have made is quite staggering when you come to think of it. Especially when you consider that they have not been burned badly by any of them. The problems that Cisco Systems is having now are not the result of their own inefficiency but that of their customers. I am very interested in how John Chambers will deal with the problem of their customers being inefficient. It has definitely put a scare in the investors of the company. But is that realistic for a company that has proven itself time after time. It will be interesting to see how it all will turn out.

Microsoft = is a company that is fighting everyone but the Pope lately. The government is trying to break them up, they are forced to deal with competitors who basically give away their operating systems for free. They are said to be "Evil" by many who hate them. What all these persons fighting Microsoft don't understand is that they got to where they are today for they are one of the most efficient companies in the world today. Their balance sheet is as close to perfect as you can get in my opinion. They have some of the most amazing margins that I have ever seen. The problem with Microsoft is that they are just too good at what they do. Only in America is this considered a fault. Go to Finland and see if the government there will ever bring a monopoly lawsuit against Nokia. Not on your life, for Nokia is considered a national treasure there. Microsoft on its part must learn PR for their arrogant attitude has gotten them in most of the hot water that they are in. I travel around the world quite often and whenever I am abroad and see that everyone is using Microsoft products, I for one am proud to be an American when I see that. If they can only learn some PR then they would be unstoppable.

Nokia = is one of the most efficient companies in the world and compared to their competition it is no contest. Their management has so finally tuned the company that they are able to make predictions going out to 2005. Few managements especially in these times would ever attempt to do so. What makes Nokia so fascinating to me is that they operate in an Industry that is just developing. They are constantly innovating and will continue to do so for decades to come. For every new device that comes out is a new technology. We have 3G then we will have 4G, 5G, 10G etc…. The industry itself will constantly grow because wireless for lack of a better term is the future. Nokia is the top dog for they are the most efficient in the Industry. Their competition constantly makes questionable decisions that lead to massive inefficiencies both on the qualitative and quantitative front. I am amazed as how easy Nokia has it to be blessed with such inefficient competitors. You would think that that would cause their management to slack off and take it easy, but Nokia's management is taking advantage of the situation. This is why I love the company so much for they are the top dog and are still very hungry. This is unique and Fisher teaches us to look for unique situations to invest it.

Over the coming months I will try to analyze various passages in "Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits". It is my all time favorite book and I reread it atleast twice a year. The amazing thing is that I learn something new every time I reread it. It is the only book that I can say that about. All the above was just my humble opinion and one should not take what I have said as investment advice.
It is important for everyone to do his or her own research and not rely on anyone else for investment advice. That would be Un-Foolish and would not go down well with Philip Fisher. He did his own research as I always have.

More to come in the Future.

TMF MYCROFT
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Author: trueseek1 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50902 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 5:20 PM
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Interesting view point you present on the reason behind msft's victories that their competitors missed (below). Can you drill down on this one more? Show some data that leads you to believe the following about msft?

your excerpt: "What all these persons fighting Microsoft don't understand is that they got to where they are today for they are one of the most efficient companies in the world today. Their balance sheet is as close to perfect as you can get in my opinion."



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Author: owt Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50904 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 5:42 PM
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Damn now I need to read the MS board too :)

Anyway. As always, nice post Mycroft. A few points though.

I think Intel got to where they are due to their amazing marketing campaign that payed for up to 80% of an ad that had the Intel Inside Logo (and jingle) in it. Both production and running of that ad. That made and still makes, them appear everywhere. They are the CPU. This is now slowly braking.

As for Microsoft. Well I am looking forward to seeing myselfed battered down, but I think they are fighting with a lot harder gloves than Nokia. Nokia is very good because they have very good products. Listen to Nokia customers. They love the company.

Microsoft prevented companies from creating PCs that dual boot into Windows and Linux or Windows and BeOS by telling them that their license forbids them from doing this. They would have to pay a lot more for windows if they did that. Hitachi created dual boot PCs but you needed to read a file after the PC booted to Windows and manualy make it dual boot.

This would be the same as Nokia telling Vodafone that they will get all phones for 1/3 (if not less) of the price if they do not sell any other phones than Nokia phones.

That's just one point I would like to make.

Oliver

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Author: alwaysbeclosing One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50905 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 5:44 PM
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Thanks Mycroft, I really enjoyed your post (especially today as I have just purchased my first shares of NOK @39).

I just read "common Stocks and Uncommon Profits" for the first time so I may be wrong in the assumption that Fisher would not be too happy with MSFT's cash position.

This post may explain my reasoning...

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14114703&sort=postdate


I just posted this 2 days ago after I finished the book on the TYC board explaining why Fisher would be a big fan of the KOZ (Dennis Kozlosky - TYCO CEO).


Thanks again,
ABC


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Author: jim040709 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50918 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 8:11 PM
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I recently bought a copy of Fisher's book and am reading it now. Many thanks to TMFMycroft for recommending it.

alwaysbeclosing wrote: "...I may be wrong in the assumption that Fisher would not be too happy with MSFT's cash position.


Fisher well might have approved of Microsoft's cash holdings, if he knew what Microsoft is trying to do: think long term and globally, revolutionize it's entire industry, and evolve into a new company. That $3.7 Billion in annual R&D isn't shrinking, it's growing, and for excellent reasons. Now thrown in the downside risk of losing some of those silly lawsuits.

It doesn't look like all that much cash when you look at the big picture and the long term.

-Jim
{Microsoft employee writing strictly for myself}

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Author: Spacebux Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50927 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/16/2001 9:34 PM
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Jim,

Better get a copy of the Microsoft Resume Builder 1.0b.

Oliver,

Great point about the differences between Nokia and Microsoft's customers. People tend to buy and enjoy Nokia's products - they have a choice to NOT buy them. A good majority of Microsoft's customers are customers not because they ASKED for Windows to be pre-installed. In doing so, Microsoft has created the anti-MS sentiment among a growing number of users around the world.

Bush may save the day by nullifying the DoJ's lawsuit, but I doubt that will end the PR battle facing MS.

$pacebux.

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Author: sheltone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50941 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 12:25 AM
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What they still lack though is the power of "Economies of Scale". This cannot be achieved over night but must be gained by expanding constantly and building more factories. I don't see AMD slowing down at all in their attempt to beat Intel. Whether they succeed or not will depend on Intel itself. If Intel does not come to the market first they will allow AMD to get first crack at being installed in the computer companies newest products

================
First off, great post.

A point. Most companies will never allow AMD to get first crack at being installed in the newer products, as AMD has never, in 20 years or so, been able to produce the newest chips in enough quantity to satisfy the PC guys. Why do you think Intel has the monopoly it has had for so long?

Now, this may change someday. Just not when Jerry Sanders is still at the helm, trust me. Maybe after. Maybe.

e


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Author: nelson0 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50956 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 9:34 AM
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"A point. Most companies will never allow AMD to get first crack at being installed in the newer products, as AMD has never, in 20 years or so, been able to produce the newest chips in enough quantity to satisfy the PC guys. Why do you think Intel has the monopoly it has had for so long?

Now, this may change someday. Just not when Jerry Sanders is still at the helm, trust me. Maybe after. Maybe."

Except they have. Intel sold out of chips the first half of 2000, and AMD was able to supply more than the void that was created.

Rob Nelson
ronelson@vt.edu

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Author: cutterjack Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50960 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 10:18 AM
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"Now, this may change someday. Just not when Jerry Sanders is still at the helm, trust me. Maybe after. Maybe."

Jerry's maxim is and has always been "make it, make it run faster, now push it to the limit, it'll work."

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Author: neuronnorth Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50972 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 11:38 AM
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Many thanks for the great post, Mycroft. Shouldn't this topic be linked to The Gorilla Game Board? Here's one interesting related post from there mentioning the companies in your post.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14108936

I look forward to all these companies' analyses you may provide in the future. Regarding Gorilla Gaming, they all fit, with the exception of AMD whose yearly revenues don't even approach what INTC makes in a couple of months, right? In Gorilla Game terms, AMD is most definitely a "monkey" nipping away at INTC's niche positions.

The companies within your focus individually represent gorilla games for respective industries, i.e., PC and server software (MSFT), wireless (QCOM, NOK), routers (CISCO), semiconductors (INTC).

Missing from this list of forefront technologies are several other "Game" industries where I hope you'll expand your coverage somewhat, e.g., broadband buildout via fiber optics (JDSU), storage (EMC) et al.

Thanks again from a devoted student both of Fisher and Mycroft.

NN

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Author: oroughy Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 50973 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 11:41 AM
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I look forward to the rest of your thoughts on Fisher, Mycroft. I'm sure I will learn a lot.

A couple of points on the first installment here. First, as an amateur investor I wouldn't dare to question Fisher's theories. I do, however, disagree with a bit of economics in the passage you quoted:

". . . One is by monopoly, which is usually illegal, although, if the monopoly is due to patent protection, it may not be."

Having a monopoly is not illegal at all, unless the company attains or maintains it through anticompetitive means (i.e., something other than good business acumen, valid patents, efficiency, high quality products, good customer service, etc.).

Which leads me to comment on your remark, "What all these persons fighting Microsoft don't understand is that they got to where they are today for they are one of the most efficient companies in the world today. . . The problem with Microsoft is that they are just too good at what they do. Only in America is this considered a fault."

I know Microsoft is a blameless national treasure to many people in the U.S. and on this board. I am sure, if you haven't changed your mind(s) by now, I can say nothing to alter your opinion. I can only voice my own opinion. To begin, there are many things about MS that I admire. Deeply. The company has some amazing achievements. It is not, however, sacred and infallible.

To say that MS got where they are today solely because they are the most efficient kid on the block is to ignore reality, Mycroft. If their efficiency were enough to bring them so much success, it would have been unnecessary for them to engage in all the anticompetitive practices that got them into trouble with the states and the federal government.

"What anticompetitive practices? What's wrong with aggressive competition?" some of you may ask. If you think MS did nothing wrong, if you think there are no facts to support the argument that MS abused its monopoly power, please take the time to read the district court's decision:

http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm

http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f4400/4469.htm

It is long, and it requires some patience and concentration. But unless you read it, you can't legitimately contend that the government's suit is frivolous. It is true that MS is being punished because they are too good at *some* of what they do. The problem is that some of what they're so good at is destroying competition by abusing their monopoly power, and that is illegal. For good reason.

It is irresponsible to suggest that MS is being punished because it is such a success. That is -- I cannot put this gently, I'm sorry -- absurd. If that were the case, the government would be suing Cisco, Applied Materials, Merck, and every other great company on unfounded antitrust charges. But it isn't. MS is different, and the court's opinion spells out exactly why.

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Author: eachus Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51045 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 9:12 PM
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"Now, this may change someday. Just not when Jerry Sanders is still at the helm trust me. Maybe after. Maybe."

Has Ruiz taken over already? I assure you that it is true today. There are a number of vendors who go to AMD first, if possible. (Right now it is not always possible due to capacity constraints in Dresden.

Jerry's maxim is and has always been "make it, make it run faster, now push it to the limit, it'll work."

I've never heard it in just those words, but you are right, it is his personal philosophy. But fortunately, AMD now apparently has someone in QC who thinks differently. Right now an Athlon is much more likely to be overclockable by 20% than a Pentium III. And if AMD marked all the Durons they make right now as 1 GHz parts, I don't think you would hear many complaints from users. (You can also overclock the front side bus to a much greater degree than with Intel chips. Temperature is harder, but I think that almost all Durons and Athlons sold today are rated at 90 to 95 degrees Centigrade. Just don't try to exceed it. ;-)

So Jerry is still doing his thing. In fact, the 1.5 GHz Palomino (new version of Athlon) chips shown at Comdex should confirm that. But as I said, when it comes to shipping product, recently AMD has been very consistant, and very good.

I don't want to seem to be denigrating Intel's Quality Control. Far from it, they are among the best in the industry. But problems like the 1.133 GHz PIII show that they are not perfect--or that engineering samples can bypass QC. There were only about 200 1.133 GHz chips out when they were recalled, and I don't think any had been shipped to users.

But AMD had a long reputation for shipping parts that were close to the ragged edge. Since the K6/2 came out, though, things have been very different. If you want to see how different, go to the AMD site and download the revision guides for the Athlon or Duron. (http://www.amd.com/products/cpg/athlon/techdocs/index.html has links to K7 Versions 1 and 2 and Version 4 (Thunderbird), and Versions 3 is the Duron (Spitfire) and can be found here: http://www.amd.com/products/cpg/duron/techdocs/index.html)

To give you some flavor of what you will find, the third, of three, errata for the Thunderbird is that if you reset the processor PLL multiplier during operation and increase it substantially in the process, it can take longer than specified to settle at the new CPU clock frequency. (In other words, if you have a chip with an unlocked multiplier, or you unlocked it yourself--not hard--then if you try to substantially overclock the chip, and you reset it to the higher frequency while operating, you should wait a little longer than the spec says to resume talking to the system bus. That sounds more like bragging than a chip problem to me. ;-) Incidently, AMD is about to introduce a 1.3 GHz Athlon with a 200 MHz FSB. Sound silly? Let me translate: AMD is going to sell clock unlocked Athlons to people who want them, since a 13 multiplier can only be set in software, or by the BIOS.

For comparison, the latest Intel Pentium III erratta list contains 76 items, plus enough documentation changes, documentation clarifications, etc., to bring the total to over 100. (see http://Developer.intel.com/design/pentiumiii/specupdt/24445324.pdf) If we add the erratta for all versions of the K7, combining duplicates, there are less than 10. So it is fair to say that AMD's K7 series is an order of magnitude higher in quality than the Pentium III. (The actual numbers may change with time, but the ratio will probably stay close to 10 to 1.) Again, I am not knocking Intel, they are not hiding problems, this is not an excessive number of problems for an architecture with one major revision and several steppings, and most of these problems are at the nuisance level.

However, the AMD Athlon/Duron numbers are almost out of this world for a chip architecture this complex. The biggest problem from a user point of view was that the CPUID instruction returned the wrong L2 cache size for early Durons. (And in most cases, programs such as wCPUID report the correct value, so you have to be programming system code in assembler, or updating something like wCPUID, to even worry about it.)

Also, I have heard of Athlons cooking when the fan failed, or when the heat sink was put on without thermal grease or using thermal tape, but forgetting to pull the plastic backing off. And I know of two instances where the ceramic was cracked by trying to put a Pentium III thermal cooler on. (The specs are similar, but not identical. So a lot of coolers are approved for both chips, but a few are not.) Other than that I have never heard of a bad Athlon or Duron chip, or of one failing in use. I can probably say the same thing about Pentium IIIs, especially the Coppermines, so again it is not that Intel quality is poor, quite the opposite. It is just that AMD quality and reliability is now at least as good, where it is not better. That is a huge change from even three years ago.

Sorry to go on at such length. But my interest in AMD is purely professional. Like the Japanese with Professor Demming, I am trying to learn how AMD does it. That information may be the most valuable asset that AMD has. (I saw part of an interview with Jack Welsh, CEO of GE on Squawk Box. He was making the point that GE's "Six Sigma" quality process is one of the best things they have going, and information technology investment is a close second.)

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Author: sheltone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51051 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/17/2001 10:05 PM
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Except they have. Intel sold out of chips the first half of 2000, and AMD was able to supply more than the void that was created.



Right. Next time I'll amend it to, when Intel is NOT out of capacity.

e


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Author: DURKINTHOMAS Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51061 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/18/2001 12:46 AM
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Peter:
Not exactly on your subject but interesting and
fascinating account of MSFT,Justice Dep't,Judge
Jackson,Bill Gates,and Kenneth Boise in book by
Ken Aluetta:World War 3.com.

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Author: TMFMycroft Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51062 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/18/2001 12:49 AM
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Peter:
Not exactly on your subject but interesting and
fascinating account of MSFT,Justice Dep't,Judge
Jackson,Bill Gates,and Kenneth Boise in book by
Ken Aluetta:World War 3.com.


Thanks Dude,

I will give it a try,

TMF MYCROFT

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Author: nelson0 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51071 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/18/2001 7:20 AM
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"Right. Next time I'll amend it to, when Intel is NOT out of capacity."

Well, is Intel out of capacity now? Is AMD still producing in quantity sufficient to fulfill their orders?

Rob Nelson
ronelson@vt.edu

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Author: Godskid Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51739 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/24/2001 3:26 PM
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Thank you for the short course on Fisher. It was very interesting. I'll be looking forward to the next chapter.

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Author: rahulkv One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 51841 of 157015
Subject: Re: Philip Fisher and the Honey Jar Date: 1/25/2001 1:32 PM
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Hi,

I am new here and this is my first post. I read this write up and am bewildered by the reference to:

"The problems that Cisco Systems is having now are not the result of their own inefficiency but that of their customers."

Could someone please elaborate?

Thanks,
Rahulkv

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