Apollo Investment Management 

'Twas... 1999

'Twas the night before Christmas, while moguls drank highballs,
All fully invested, right up to their eyeballs.
The tech stocks were nestled in all their accounts,
Having risen and risen by major amounts.

Momentum investors drank eggnog and chortled.
"They only go up – so buy more!" they exhortled.
This year from the market arose such a clatter,
It wasn't just all the CNBC chatter,
Euphoria reigned and the day traders cried,
"It is now a New Era – the old one has died!"

And the Blodget and Cohen and Jim Cramer crew
All ignored P/E ratios and loss figures too,
"It's sales now – not profit – that's the name of the game,"
And they bought and they bought and they called them by name,

"Now Cisco, now Am'zon, now Red Hat and eBay!
On Yahoo, on L-NUX, on Sim-Gee and Ask-J!
Go up! Set new records! Leave old ones all sundered!
And Yahoo we'll add to the SP 500!"


Value investors exchanged knowing looks,
They'd read about manias in hist'ry books,
They all knew that trees didn't grow to the sky,
And they spent far too much of their time asking "Why?".

"Why is it that nothing so chuffs a young pup
As to see day by day all his stocks going up?
He thinks he's a genius! He thinks it's his doing!
He just doesn't seem to see big trouble brewing."


As I read and reread all the Chairman's old letters,
And pored over books by my financial betters,
I had just taken down my bust of Doug Ivester,
When I whirled and confronted St. Value Investor.
(He had snuck in, it seems, during my 'preciation,
of a lengthy discussion of depreciation).

His suit it was rumpled, he quaffed Cherry Coke,
When I asked 'bout the market, he said "It's a joke!
But what else is new?" and he took a few sips,
"We've got dips on the buy, and they buy on the dips!"

"It was ever thus," he continued with glee,
"You'd have seen it before, if you'd been here like me,
You'd have seen it in '70, and earlier too,
I have seen it and seen it – this stuff isn't new.

Why, one time the stocks that they bought in a jiffy,
they even had given the name 'Nifty Fifty',
Supposedly these were the ones for all time,
But one day what had been a buck was a dime."

He paused, raised the can and took one more big slug,
(I had to pretend to ignore the big "Glug")
"No, these fools never learn, it's the greater fool theory,
They keep on buying stocks of which I would be leery."

"But what should I do now?" I cried in despair,
"I'm so tired of list'ning to all the hot air,
To the mavens and gurus and financial folk –
They're all buying stocks I consider a joke!"

His green eyeshade glistened, his eyes they were merry,
As again he partook of a mouthful of Cherry,
"Who cares," the man asked, "what the other folks do,
If you buy with a margin of safety—" "I do."
"Then don't worry," (another can got its deployment),
"Use the mania as a new source of enjoyment,
When you see a bookseller lose money in buckets,
Of course you don't buy, you sit back and say 'Sod it!
I'll wait for a great big fat pitch to come in,
I don't have to buy stock when the profits are thin,'
Just continue to care about margins and earnings,'
Mr. Market someday will give heed to your yearnings."

"I must go now," he said, "'Cause I'm not getting younger,
I've got to go have a good chin wag with Munger,"
Thus speaking, he nodded, and turning quite nimbly,
He headed directly away from the chimney.

"Aren't you going," I called, "up the chimney? Too fat?"
"You are behind the times," he replied. "That's old hat!"
"When from point A to point B I'm wanting to get,
It's not reindeer I use – it's Executive Jet!"

Out the front door he tap danced, and there in the lane,
Was a most sleek and elegant private jet plane.
As he boarded, he said, without trace of apology,
"Surely YOU don't believe that I don't know technology!"

Then the great engines roared, and they brought 'round the nose,
I caught a last glimpse of him as the plane rose,
And he said with a grin, as he flew out of sight,
"Keep a margin of safety, and you'll do all right!"

by 'Usually Reasonable'
Originally posted at http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=11706438

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