Editor's Page

What a deal!

Boy, have I got an investment for me -- er, you. Sorry. For you. It's an Internet play. It's a manufacturing play. It's a masterstroke of financial engineering based on the real-life story of a little company called Global Crossing -- a Bermuda firm with undersea cable holdings but no earnings. Global Crossing, if you haven't heard, is about to trade its Internet-hyped stock into the purchase of US West -- one of the Baby Bells, a company that comes complete with revenues and profits and everything. With everybody else trading paper for profits, it's time we got ours, so here it is: JohnBrandt.com. Yes, it's true: I'm launching an Internet start-up -- but with a twist. And you can get in at the ground floor, as part of an IPO virtually guaranteed to make you and your heirs richer than a crme brle. A few disclaimers are in order, of course: First, JohnBrandt.com has no profits. But then again, Amazon.com Inc. doesn't have any, either, yet the online bookseller has a market cap of nearly $19 billion and a share price 556% higher than its IPO. No problem there. Furthermore, I have to confess that JohnBrandt.com -- being a start-up and all -- doesn't have any revenues, either. Now some of you stick-in-the-mud traditionalists -- who stubbornly buy only companies with actual products and cash flow -- will likely be turned off by the vaporous condition of JohnBrandt.com's bottom line. That's fine. You probably missed out on e-Bay, Yahoo, and AOL, too, so you're used to being left behind as the market rockets skyward. Finally, to be perfectly frank with you (after all, we're going to be partners), JohnBrandt.com doesn't actually have a product or -- and this is really embarrassing -- even an idea. In fact, the management team at JohnBrandt.com doesn't have the foggiest notion of how we'd use the URL we haven't even bothered to register. But we do have a business plan, and it's a doozy: First, we'll convince you and thousands of other investors high on greed and scant on facts to buy our IPO. We'll put the proceeds in offshore accounts to make sure that we have houses on Nantucket and that our kids have colleges named after them. Second, after you bid our stock up to 20-odd times our IPO, we'll use our phony-baloney equity -- a market cap based not on performance but on the promise of profits, someday, maybe -- to buy a conglomerate's worth of real manufacturing companies. Outfits with factories and products and sales and net margins. Boring places with plenty of profits but no .coms in sight. Finally, we'll sit on these companies until you and all the other investors sniffing the airplane glue of Internet hysteria wake up with a bottom-line hangover and dump all those .coms during the bloodiest trading day Wall Street has ever seen. Then we'll announce that we're out of this Internet biz altogether, but that we expect continued strong results from our manufacturing portfolio. Like I said, it's the investment of a lifetime for me -- er, you. Sorry, did it again. It's all because of you. Send e-mail messages to John Brandt at jbrandt@industryweek.com

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