A Foolish Interview with TMFSeymor
Find another Fool's Interview:
|The Fool:||Given a second chance, what financial decision would you like to do over?|
|TMFSeymor:||Selling some Coca-Cola stock in 1986 to spend 6 weeks in Europe. I had fun, but what an opportunity cost!|
|The Fool:||What's your greatest athletic achievement? Little League champ? Ran a marathon? Did 4 consecutive sit-ups?|
|TMFSeymor:||My 25-yard touchdown pass as a 3rd grader.|
|The Fool:||What's the one thing you'd MOST like to see The Motley Fool add to our service or improve upon?|
|TMFSeymor:||Let's add The Motley Fool mutual funds... the Fool's S&P 500 index fund...the Fool's Rule Breaker fund..the Fool's Rule Maker fund. What do you think?|
|The Fool:||What's the most overrated idea, person, or event in our culture?|
|TMFSeymor:||Y2K concerns. At least, I hope so.|
|The Fool:||Tell us about Your Dumbest Investment... and the lesson you learned from it.|
My dumbest recent investment was DataWorks, a middle market enterprise resource planning software firm that plunged just a few months after I bought it before then being acquired by a company that's now seen its own stock fall, too.
Though I had researched the company's financials, studied its filings, and listened in on a year's worth of conference calls, this highly competitive business simply fell apart very quickly.
The lesson was clear.Unless you're willing to do an extraordinary amount of due diligence (like actually calling customers and potential customers, calling competitors and potential competitors, and reading a wealth of industry reports), there are simply some businesses, particularly high-tech businesses, that are best avoided. It's just difficult for an individual investor to really foresee competitive issues facing a high tech business that sells to corporations the way most anybody can understand the challenges facing a Gap or Coca-Cola. If you worry that you don't have an information edge of some sort, you probably don't. In such cases, it's easy to get blindsided.
|The Fool:||What's been your best investment to date, and how did you discover it?|
Apple's one of my best recent investments. I believe in the Peter Lynch thesis that you often do best by buying into the businesses that make stuff you use. And I knew there were thousands of people (like myself) who loved the Mac and badly wanted Apple to survive.
By the time Steve Jobs arrived as interim CEO, the place was in shambles, and the stock was beginning to discount a going out of business sale. But I believe a visionary leader actually can make a huge difference in a company's success or failure, and in this case Jobs was exactly the man for the task at hand. Here was a one-time visionary who had returned with perspective gained from experience.
The Jobs mystique smoothed over many difficulties, and one could trace the turnaround in his series of decisive moves (partnering with Microsoft, revamping the board, killing the cloners, killing the Newton, revamping the product strategy with the G3 then the iMac, actually talking to developers, etc.)
So here was a great consumer company with tons of residual brand equity trading at turnaround prices. And it was now being run by the one guy with the stature to really remake and revitalize the company. The results have been better than expected, but not really that surprising.
|Go to TMFSeymor's Profile|