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Visibility - The Elusive Quality
July 27, 2001

by Charlie Miller, Analyst-at-Large, "Elliot Wave Guy"

Ahh, those predictions of future business. We're now seeing how shaky they really were in good times - merely linear extrapolations of order data.

To the businesses, they were a critical but small, component of the total equation. Then there are the analysts who, because of their omniscience, looked at a much larger picture, and how the company, along with its customers and rivals, fit into it.

Charlie's Recent Analyses:
Which Way Will the Broom Fall? - May 24
The Story of Alan and the Boat - Feb 21

Visibility is now the buzzword. And we see that nobody has it, and everybody wants "the other guy to provide it." How silly! I must say, the analysts, who are paid big bucks to prognosticate accurately, seem like a bunch of phonies. "Yeah, I was wrong, but nobody could see this coming, that it could be so severe..." Gee, fella, your ability to do that is exactly why you were being paid so handsomely!

How convenient for them to have Regulation FD to try to shield them from the fact that so many of them were just actors, mouthing scripts that were handed to them through their back channels. How I recall the words of a sage on TV (I can't remember who it was, sadly) to the effect that "These hot young fund managers who have never seen a downturn won't be able to get a job teaching kindergarten [when things come apart as they are now]." Same should go for most of the analysts.

JDSU is probably the most forthright in it's almost childlike innocence. "We've never seen anything like this, and we see no prospects for it getting better." Well, the good news is that other than the disruption of 16,000 lives and the closing of facilities all over the world (ever see a company town after the company leaves?), a couple of analysts came on TV to speak well of the dead. Great, solid, well run company with huge cash on the books, etc. No customers, No visibility, but a real buy here. If that attitude catches hold, perhaps as we near the end of earnings announcements, we will finally hear that "Gee, this visibility concept really is silly, since when did we ever really have the ability to predict the future, anyway?" That might help a lot. Perhaps my dilemma springs from the fact that the Nasdaq suddenly is going through a micro version of flat trading for months which is a replica of the years of flat trading on the Dow. A miniature "Alan's Alley!" Hmmmm.

- Charlie Miller - 7/26/01

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