Come hither and run barefoot among my stocks of memories

I WAS reading some old Marcus Today newsletters. From 2003. Let me take you back and allow you to exercise the power of hindsight:

I WAS reading some old Marcus Today newsletters. From 2003. Let me take you back and allow you to exercise the power of hindsight:

"Ex Billabong CEO Matthew Perrin sold his last 5.1m shares in surfwear company Billabong at 635? through J.B.Were. That's about $100m he has now raised. He can afford to retire. Oddly enough he apparently doesn't surf." The share price peaked at $17.95 in May 2007 and is now $2.06.

"On the rumour mill is the story that Aristocrat Leisure is going to be bid for at 200?." Aristocrat Leisure has since hit a high of 1768? in February 2007. Whoever was bidding for it, should have bid.

"Chemeq had weak results today, reporting a $3m loss, much as expected. Dr Graham Melrose recently sold 40,000 of his 23m shares at 586? taking the shine off the wonder stock, which has just dropped from 861?". Chemeq hit 2.2? in February 2007 before disappearing. Dr Melrose retired from the board before it went out backwards. He was worth about $198m for a moment there.

"Nylex has raised $100m through a share placement at 25?, underwritten by Bell Potter. Despite the stock recently trading at 44?. That's 400m new shares bringing the number of shares on issue to 644.3m. The chairman of Austrim Nylex, Mr Dick Nitto said, 'Shareholders have today given a significant vote of confidence in the management team of Austrim Nylex and its strategy for the future.' Nylex went into receivership and was delisted in August 2010.

"Unwired (UNW) closed at 450? today, up from 290? in two days on the back of rumours of a bid from the Breathe Group." It then fell to 23? in June 2006 and was taken over by Seven Network and delisted at 50? in May 2008. Unwired had a record high of, wait for it, $118.86.

"ERG hits 143? on the back of final results and a $198m loss compared with a loss of $243m the year before. The MD says revenue will be the key driver." The stock hit a low of 0.2? in May 2009 before being restructured and delisted in June 2009. In the tech boom in February 2000, it hit an equivalent price of $26.62.

"Ventracor (VCR) hit 313? today on the news that their second implant patient would leave hospital this week. The stock has doubled in less than two months." The stock hit a low of 3? in December 2008 before being delisted in August 2009.

"Cochlear dropped from 2840? to 2170? today on the news that first-half sales will be flat after a meningitis alarm." It bottomed at $19. A huge buying opportunity. It has gone up ever since. Now $61.93.

"Metal Storm (MST) fell from 70? to below 50? this month despite the announcement that they had conducted the live-fire test of a rapid reload multi-shot cartridge for its 40mm pod system." Ah, those were the days, trading Metal Storm. Metal Storm is now 0.1?. It peaked at 331? in the tech boom.

"Fortescue Metals held their AGM today. Their focus has moved to iron ore. They describe themselves as 'Swimming with the tide'. At 60? the stock now has a market capitalisation of $100m and is 66.3 per cent owned by management." FMG hit a high of $13.15 in June 2008 with a market capitalisation of $40.94 billion and is now $4.58.

"Ziggy Switkowski presented to the Macquarie Equities Investor Conference today. His main bullet points included growing PSTN revenues, strong free cash flows, a robust balance sheet, rigorous capex management, and a strong dividend yield. He notes Telstra has a competitive advantage." Ziggy has gone, as has the competitive advantage. The price at the time was 486?, down from a high of 920? in February 1999. It hit a record low of 255? in November 2010. Now 356?.

"Paladin put out a presentation on the Langer Heinrich uranium project in Namibia today. They note they have a strategic partner/cornerstone investor in place and have almost completed their bank feasibility study. The share price has popped 23% from 1.7? to 2.1?." The price hit $10.80 in April 2007, up 63,529%. Now 119?.

If the above examples tell you anything, it is this: the stockmarket is an unknown and is full of opportunity. Not just in 2003, but right now. The next Paladin is right in front of us somewhere. So is the next disaster. You have to love this game. There is no better playground for your intellect. Or your money.

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