So Friday‘s column ended with, ‘Don’t sell your FMD’ – and by the end of the day we were glad we hadn’t, because FMD closed up nine bucks at $61.45, putting our gain since March at 61%.

A bird in the hand, and all that, but I plan to hold on, because my First Marblehead guru says:

‘I still believe FMD is a multi-bagger from here, in a fairly short time frame (three years?). If you believe that they will earn $5.00-ish this fiscal year, and you believe that they have a very strong position (and getting stronger) in a market segment which is quite large and growing at 25-30% a year, then you have to believe that it should be selling for $150 or so right now. If this were an early stage retailer or tech firm (with nowhere near the barriers to entry that shield FMD’s position), there would be no question. Once the Street starts to get proof that the residuals are solid and that banks actually WANT to use FMD’s services (as opposed to compete with them), multiples should start to expand nicely. Layer on a few years of 35-40% earnings growth and a rapidly increasing dividend, and you come up with a pretty good, easy to understand story.’

Easy for him to understand, perhaps. And no investment is without risk. But I am happily holding on.


Consider sending this to your uncle who votes Republican because he’s a military man. It comes from vets who think Congress should have passed Senator Mary Landrieu’s 2003 amendment to better equip our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amendment was voted down unanimously by the Republicans (plus one nominal Democrat, Zell Miller).

The ad shows two dummies, one with old body armor and one with new, with an Iraq vet shooting an AK 47 at each.

It’s worth a look just to see just how powerful a simple 30-second spot can be.

The Republicans are saying it’s unfair – that of course they favor adequate protection for the troops. And I’m sure that, in theory, they do – just as they favor health care for everybody, an end to poverty, clean air, well-protected ports, world peace and honest government. Who doesn’t?

But it’s widely acknowledged that many of our troops did not have adequate body armor. And no one would dispute which party controlled these funding decisions or that the vote on that amendment was 52-47 against.

The ad makes the consequences clear.

If I’m missing some larger point, let me know what it is.

Speaking of which . . .


Fred: ‘I have to write you again to plead with you to try to be balanced and consistent. several years ago you really lambasted CBS for not showing the Reagan mini-series even though everyone admitted that it was full of things that didn’t actually happen (fictionalized, I believe is the word). I believe you called it ‘kow-towing to the right wing’ or something like that. Now, you are calling for the 9/11 film to be pulled. Do you only believe in selective censorship? I know your response will be that the subject matter of the Reagan series was not nearly as important as the 9/11 series, but this doesn’t matter. Either you allow the networks to show what they want, or you support censorship from both sides.’

☞ Balance is important and you are right to ask for it. But just because there are two sides to every story doesn’t mean that each side is 50% right. I thought – and still think – CBS was wrong to cancel the broadcast of the Reagan documentary, for the reasons I expressed here and here. But the right shouted, and the broadcaster caved.

Now, with The Path to 9/11, the left* has shouted, joined even by a former President and a former Secretary of State . . . yet the broadcaster (Disney/ABC in this case), stood firm.

* Which has largely become the center – you will not find a centrist in the Republican leadership.

So already there seems to be a lack of balance, but not necessarily from me.

More to the point, the two cases are different. For one thing, the Reagan docudrama was to be shown a year before the next national election – not mere weeks.

For another, the Reagan docudrama was not explosive in the way the 9/11 film was. The biggest criticism of the earlier docudrama seemed to be that it portrayed Reagan as having been too long indifferent to the AIDS crisis. A harsh charge to be sure (and true!), but not the kind of topic that, in 2003, was likely to affect the 2004 election.

But mainly, the complaints about the Reagan docudrama concerned matters of tone – for example, some were offended that President Reagan was portrayed as having been a second-rate actor when, to their mind, he had been a first-rate actor – rather than of fact. Knowingly fabricating crucial historical events, it seems to me, is quite different. And this was not done in the Reagan docudrama.

So I agree with you on the importance of balance. But I hope it was not unfair to call for accuracy on a topic so central to the upcoming election. The program was broadcast over two nights without commercial interruption except for a 20-minute Presidential address sandwiched into the middle of the second night. I mean, come on.

Few would accuse Dallas-based American Airlines of being a left wing enterprise, but even they had a bone to pick:

September 11, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines today issued the following statement regarding the ABC-TV program The Path to 9/11:

“The Disney/ABC television program, The Path to 9/11, which began airing last night, is inaccurate and irresponsible in its portrayal of the airport check-in events that occurred on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“A factual description of those events can be found in the official government edition of the 9/11 Commission Report and supporting documents.

“This misrepresentation of facts dishonors the memory of innocent American Airlines employees and all those who lost their lives as a result of the tragic events of 9/11.”


Mark Willcox: Spleen, heck! Where’s my brain?


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