Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Dear wannabe Warren Buffets:

If you're considering buying MSO stock thinking you're going to make a bundle when it swings back up, here's what I wrote to someone else that thinks the same thing.

It's definitely a gamble but unless you're playing with tens of thousands of dollars, I don't think it's going to be such a big winner that it's worth throwing good money after. The potential gain on a small investment* isn't worth the potential loss.

The brand is undeniably damaged and even if they pull off a Philip Morris/Altria, there's not a huge upside as Martha Stewart herself IS the brand. At best, they change their name and become just another small niche player in a pretty large sector.

There's also serious speculation that the stock will drop low enough that Stewart can have the company buy it all back without completely depleting its cash reserves and take the company private again.

Something else to consider: the stock was initially offered at almost $40 back in 1999, the peak of the market boom. It hovered in the $20s, on average, for the next couple of years before 9/11 took its toll, dropping into the high teens and then single digits by the summer of 2002. It's averaged $9-10 ever since.

*Bottom line: buying this stock right now not an investment but pure speculation, a game for those with money to lose and enough to make winning worth the risk.

I'd advise against it.

PS: Don't forget that there is still an SEC charge of insider trading that needs to be resolved (which could result in significant fines and more bad press), as well as a civil lawsuit from investors that have lost money on her stock due to her actions.

She's not out of the woods just yet. Not even close.
NOTE: This is a personal opinion as I am no longer licensed and cannot legally give financial advice.

Whatever you do, please make sure that you at least do your own research and know what you're getting into. Listening to the Today Show doesn't count. The stock market isn't a game for amateurs. There's better odds in Vegas.

Beyond that, if you've got credit cards to pay off, or monthly bills piling up, or less than 3 months worth of expenses sitting in the bank - or, even better, if you're sitting there wondering what MSO is - you have absolutely no business thinking about buying anybody's stock!

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