Patrick Johnson has updated the spreadsheet that contains all my suggestions since 1996, and even tweaked a version of it to allow it to update itself (not for dividends and splits and stuff, but for daily stock price changes), which will be awfully cool if we decide it’s indeed ready for prime time.

For those of you foolhardy enough actually to have acted on some of these suggestions, the spreadsheet may hold some interest.  I am myself one of those people, so I perused it with great interest.  I saw, for example, that the rate of return on one of my picks was negative 651%.  And here you thought I could only lose 100% of your money!

Abashed but curious, I went to see what insanity I had inflicted on you, here, explaining why I had shorted a little Amazon in April of 1998, and here, explaining why I had shorted a little more.

Hindsight is so fun.  Those columns are, at the least, cautionary tales to folks like me who think they’re smart, rational, and experienced.

At least I was smart and experienced enough not to short very much Amazon.

(I’d also argue that none of you would in fact have shorted Amazon based on either of those two posts — not least because of my general caveats on short sales, such as, “PROMISE ME YOU WILL NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. IT’S MY JOB TO DO THE STUPID, RISKY THINGS AND TAKE THE PAIN FOR YOU.”  So maybe they shouldn’t be weighted as heavily in the scorecard as some of the other suggestions.  But look at me, whining to the teacher about my grade.  Patrick was right to include Amazon along with the rest, and that’s that.  I’m not 12 years old anymore, haranguing Mr. Alexander about the B+ he gave me in Ancient History.  Mr. Alexander and I remain friends to this day, though I clearly deserved an A-.  I can still tell you more about Attila the Hun than all but a couple of you would want to know.  But I digress.)

Apparently, if, since 1996, you had put $1,000 into each of the 200 suggestions Patrick has identified — and sold if I suggested selling — you would today have $380,000 or so — versus about $283,000 if you had bought and sold the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index instead.  About a 14.8% internal rate of return for the stuff here, Patrick calculates, versus 6% from the S&P.  (All this ignoring the effect of taxes.)

More to come.  But if you have time, I think you may be amused by those two spectacularly bad calls on Amazon.

From whom I have this week alone bought 12 pairs of argyle socks, a jumbo pack of Nectresse, Good Courts, My Promised Land, a pair of 514 Levi’s (too green?), another Sodastream, and a musical instrument — not to mention the final episodes of Breaking Bad at $1.99 each, streaming directly through my TV.

Retailing has changed a bit since 1998.



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