I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1997, in a small one bedroom apartment, in West Orange New Jersey, I had been in the investment business for a few years, so spending nights researching stock while eating countless Oreo cookies was a daily practice. I would sometimes stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning sorting through charts/graphs and research reports to find companies to invest in — companies that would profit my clients and since I invest in virtually every stock I buy for clients, profit my own portfolio.
I had gotten married in 1995 and my wife Lori was pregnant with my oldest son, Jeffrey and working as a Special Education teacher and an Administrator for a school for special needs children in the inner city of Paterson, New Jersey.
The Best Stock Tip I Ever Got
One night after finishing an entire box of Oreo’s and frustrated by the lack of progress in my stock research, Lori, while preparing for her next day at school, turned to me and gave me the most incredible stock tip I could have ever gotten. She said … “you should buy Apple”.
A Chaotic Mess
At the time, Apple was trading at a split adjusted price of $8.00 per share. The company had undergone over a decade of turbulence after Steve Jobs was fired in 1985. Most analysts were predicting its certain demise when Time Magazine said in February 1996, “One day Apple was a major technology company with assets to make any techno-conglomerate salivate. The next day Apple was a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future”. Fortune Magazine said “… by the time you read this story, the quirky cult company … will end its ride as an independent enterprise” and Michael Dell, Chairman of Dell Computer, said he would “shut it down and give the money back to shareholders”.
An Act of Desperation
Needless to say the investment community was not enthusiastic about the future of the company. Fortunately, one man was and it was Steve Jobs who “returned from exile” and once again became CEO in 1997.
His hiring was not viewed positively by most of Wall Street. Hiring Steve Jobs was viewed more as an act of desperation.
My wife Lori was an extraordinary Special Education Teacher and Administrator who had dedicated her life to helping the most neglected of our learning disabled and handicapped children of the inner city. I would often visit the school she worked at and be amazed at how much her students loved her and how much she taught them.
Needless to say Lori was not reading what I was reading about Apple or observing a decade of dismal performance and horrendous charts nor was she listening to the analysts. She was relying on her incredible instincts. I asked her, “Why would I buy Apple when the company is a mess, the analysts hate it and Steve Jobs hasn’t proven himself as CEO — plus, a lot has changed since 1985”.
I remember Lori’s words as if they were yesterday – she said, “We just replaced the computers in the school with Apple computers and the kids like them. They pick it up quickly and even though some of them have special needs, they learn faster and feel better about themselves.” Then she said something truly profound which was a foreshadowing of where Apple is today. She said “someday every kid in America and maybe the world will be using Apple”.
As I watched the people line up for the iPad 3 on my iPad 2, I thought back on that day in 1997 and remembered Lori’s words and deeply regretted that unfortunately, I didn’t listen.