Random thoughts in and around this market:
Don't lose that thought:
Next time you feel like you're a stock market genius -- when making money seems so easy that it's coming out of your wazoo -- try not to forget that gut-wrenching feeling you may have experienced Tuesday. Then go back and read
pieces in recent weeks on not becoming greedy and
taking money off the table . (Say what you will about the guy, but you can't say he didn't warn you!)
was in free fall Tuesday, California money manager Eric Von der Porten, no stranger to this column, emailed:
The Nasdaq meltdown is the reverse 'leverage' of companies like CMGI (CMGI) and Internet Capital (ICGE) . When B2B was booming, investors (if they understood what they were doing, that is) were willing to bid these companies up to huge premiums over the current value of the underlying investments. These companies were leveraged, not because they have much debt, but because increasing values of the underlying stocks were multiplied again in the value of the holding companies. As an example, a Barron's story in January estimated that ICGE was trading at about 10 times the value of the underlying investments. Investors are now seeing the downside. As values of the underlying investments fall, the holding company shares will almost certainly fall even faster. Value contraction compounded by multiple contraction.
Which makes me wonder about
: If its earnings per share have been helped in the
recent past by gains on the sale of stocks from its investment portfolio, is now the time to wonder what happens if stocks aren't high enough to sell?
Too close for comfort?:
In a report to clients Tuesday,
analyst Eric Berg waxed enthusiastically about
, on which he affirmed his outpeform rating. Of course, whaddaya expect? Lehman has been hired to help Conseco find a buyer for its
Green Tree Financial
unit, a Lehman exec is on Conseco's board, and Berg himself is a Conseco investor.
I know, I know, I should give the guy a break. He's proving there's a Chinese wall between the investment bankers and research. Yeah, maybe, but in the old days (of not that long ago) investment banking clients were put on the restricted list, which meant analysts couldn't write about them. Neither Berg nor Lehman officials could be reached for comment.
In the thick of the market's swoon, electronics distributor
(remember them?) filed for bankruptcy reorg and disclosed -- I kid you not -- that it plans to re-emerge as an Internet incubator. Really! Seriously! It's in the press release! (Talk about signs that a fad has peaked.)
Irony of ironies:
News earlier this week that
may be restating prior revenue has an interesting twist. Didya know that one member of Legato's audit committee is Phil White, best known for his role as CEO of
company was involved in accounting irregularities that prompted an
probe and forced Informix to restate
On that note, gentlemen -- and ladies! -- start your engines. (Seems like an appropriate way to start the day.)
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.