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Beware of the next big thing. Another stock I'd avoid is a stock in a company that's been touted as the next IBM, the next McDonald's, the Next Intel, or the next Disney, etc. In my experience the next of something almost never is on Broadway, the best-seller list, the National Basket Association, or Wall Street. How many times have you heard that some player is supposed to be the next Willie Mays, or that some novel is supposed to be the next Moby Dick, only to find that the first is cut from the team, and the second is quietly remaindered? In stocks there's a similar curse.

In fact, when people tout a stock as the next big something, it often marks the end of prosperity not only for the imitator but also for the original to which it is being compared. When other computer companies were called the "next IBM," you could have guessed that IBM would go through some terrible times, and it has. Today most computer companies  are trying not to become the next IBM, which may mean better times ahead for that beleaguered firm.

After Circuit City Stores (formerly Wards) become a successful electronics retailer, there was a string of nexts, including First Family, Good Guys, Highlands Superstores, Crazy Eddie, and Fretters. Circuit City is up fourfold since 1984, when it was on the New York Stock Exchange, somehow avoiding the IBM course, while all of the nexts have lost between 59 and 96 percent of their original value. 

The next Toys "R" Us was Child World, which also stumbled; and the next Price Club was the Warehouse Club, which fared no better.

This is primarily sourced from Peter Lynch’s book entitled “One up on Wall Street” published in 1989.

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Published: 11/9/19

 

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