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Also, isn't part of the idea of a Cash King that it is a household name, a company MANY people have heard of, like Coke? If that's an important criteria then most of the nominations are eliminated right there.

I'd have to agree to some extent... but if you look at it, many times there is *something* about a company that doesn't quite match all the criteria. Whether this something is a financial criteria or brand recognition shouldn't matter (much).

With that said, I don't know which is better - a relatively unknown product with tremendous financials or a really well known product, positioned well, but with some lackluster performance in margin - or even a company somewhere in the middle.

I think with any C-K you have to evaluate the whole company to see where they're going. A smaller mind share might not always be a bad thing. For an interesting discussion of it, check the C-K Strategy folder for the Cash-Prince thread.

Let's look at Intel (INTC) or Microsoft (MSFT).

They've both got reams of cash, little debt, and substantial mindshare in their market. But go outside of that market - nationally or internationally - and how much of a household name do they possess? In both cases, it's not actually too bad. But, believe it or not, there are still people who don't use a PC daily - or at all. To them, Microsoft may sound like a disease dreaded by all male actors in the adult film industry. But who wouldn't have liked to get in on them ten years ago, while they were still small players in an ever-increasing market? This is the role of the Cash-Prince.

Now let's take a glance at Cisco (CSCO). While the market they serve is certainly somewhat specialized, and relatively unexposed to the public (at least from an end-user standpoint), what a market! It seems like every week I'm reading somewhere about new advances in communications hardware... and who is one of the biggest players in that market? Cisco. Sure, you can also talk about Tellabs (TLAB) and Lucent (LU) sharing that market. Who will become the gorilla? Tough to say - maybe we ought to buy all three and when one starts to emerge as the leader, cash out of the other two and plug it all into #1.

But the fact is - the market they serve is big. And it's only going to get bigger. What's more, throughput advances occur regularly. As more and more people decide to get on the Internet, you need a bigger pipe to send the data through. More people are also turning to IP telephony - something needs to route all that traffic. The more traffic, the more you need to upgrade existing hardware to evolving technology that can keep up with all that traffic. Who's in the best position to get all that business? It may very well be a toss-up. But I like Cisco's chances.

It is definitely true that the average person on the street may not recognize the name (or more likely, they'll think you're talking about the amazing lard product). But if you are in that market? If you need to complete your WAN? I'll bet you most anything that you'll turn to Cisco - or at the very least, consider them as an option.

Now there is a slight disadvantage in their products - the market is inherently limited. Unlike Coke (KO), every school kid walking down the street may not recognize the name (although many might be more likely to do so than say T. Rowe Price). I don't think it's likely you'll find a vending machine for routers at every gas station at any point in the near future. But how many products *can* you say that about? And how many companies are as well positioned to take advantage of an exploding market segment? Not many. As for me, I wouldn't mind being in a position to take advantage of that.

One last thought. While it is nice to think of holding a stock for 10 (20, 30, 40) years without giving it any thought, can we be realistic and expect every one of our choices to do so well? I certainly can't. So I monitor the C-K holdings in my port just as I do the FF holdings. That is to say, about once a year. The day-to-day fluctuations aren't going to bother me, and I could never be mistaken for a day-trader.

But if a company is trending downward, I'm not necessarily going to stay in them for a decade just because I bought them with that intention. If the management is still solid and seems interested and devoted to turning things around, I might stick it out for a few months or another year (or more). I will not follow them to the bottom just because I've only held the stock for three years and I've got at least seven to go. And most importantly - I'm going to continue doing research so that I recognize those trends. Just because it's a C-K stock now doesn't mean I won't check the numbers again for a decade...
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