Sorry for the glitches. Last Friday’s column was originally going to be yesterday’s, and then I realized it was the last day of the year – the millennium! – and that I ought to at least wish you guys a Happy New Year. So I moved Friday to yesterday and put in a little one Friday around noon that, fora variety of reasons, a lot of you didn’t see – or that, if you tried to see it, produced a 1999 column. And all I can say is that driving along Monday, I realized it was 01/01/01 . . . which,when I started saying it, came out as oh one, oh one, oh one, oh wonderful!

Which it is. So let me be the last – but not the least heartfelt – to wish you a Happy New Year and millennium. May this next 1,000 years we embarked upon Monday truly rock for you.

Meanwhile . . . a few more jumbled thoughts.

1. Except for Ashcroft, I think Bush is making solid appointments (even if, for whatever reasons, the market doesn’t seem overwhelmed with optimism as we reenter the Bush era).

2. Still feeling exasperated? Click here. Former Naderites Confirm It: Ralph Nader Is a Big Fat Idiot.

3. Bob Fyfe: ‘I made several New Year’s resolutions: Lower my auto insurance costs, give blood, no ice cream until March . . . I checked your book and just got off the phone with Progressive. Saved $400 on my and my wife’s cars by switching to them and raising my deductibles to $1000.’

☞ Check GEICO, too.

4. Please stop smoking. You will save so much money!

5. Anybody been to Buenos Aires? We were thinking of going to South America for a week in February. If it were you, how would you do it?

6. Now that Amazon is back down from its all time high of 110 or so to 14, at the same time as it has cemented its position with millions of happy customers, including me, I think the bottom, if it hasn’t already been reached, could be in sight. One very smart short-seller tells me ‘it’s a $5 stock’ – at which point it would still be worth close to $2 billion, which isn’t, after all, nothing.

7. Are you old enough to remember’the A&P’? The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc., symbol GAP, runs hundreds of supermarkets under various monikers – including the tony Food Emporiums in New York. It’s a pathetic shrimp next to Amazon – it has a total market cap of about $266 million, down about 75% in the past year, to Amazon’s still hefty $5 billion or so. And it sells shrimp! The company’s ‘9.75% preferred J’ stock pays a preferred dividend of$2.34 a share and traded yesterday under $12. I had previously bought some for $10.50. If the company goes broke, you might lose everything. Otherwise, you get about 20% a year on your investment, plus the possibility of a double if the preferred were ever retired(the call price is $25). There are a lotof high-yield speculations like that these days (thanks to the estimable Joe Cherner for pointing this one out), which is why a lot of the smart money seems to be buying high-yield ‘junk bond’ funds and the like. A&P recently suspended the dividend on its common stock, but who knows? It might be able to keep paying the preferred dividend.

8. “If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?” — Steven Wright

Tomorrow: Quarters Worth Fifty Cents

 

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