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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Every now and then I do the right thing
Posted by Jill | 7:58 AM
Like buying Lowe's stock. Many years ago I worked with a guy named Walter. Walter had a very simple investment strategy: Buy stock in companies that make things you like. In Walter's case, it means investing in whimsical things like Tootsie Roll Industries. But it's not necessarily a bad way to go. Think of it as socially conscious investment in the micro-micro-micro level. Even former Fidelity Magella whiz-picker Peter Lynch sometimes operated this way, picking Pier One Imports after a visit to one of their stores with his wife.

A long time ago, when I rolled some old 401(k) plan funds into an IRA, one of the stocks they picked for me was Home Depot. The OTHER Great Orange Satan was very good to me over the eight or so years I had it. I think it split three times. But after I started growing more irritated with their stores, and after a Lowe's opened near where I work, I thought "What the heck am I hanging onto Home Depot for?" So I put in an order to sell Home Depot and buy Lowe's instead.

Lowe's has also been pretty good to me, but even though big-box home improvement stores are down in general, and even if it hadn't, I'd still be happy I have Lowe's stock instead of Home Depot. Here is Lowe's response to finding out that one of the shows on which it advertises has a web site in which people are permitted to advocate assassination of a Democratic presidential candidate and attacks against the Capitol:

Dear Lowe's Customer,

Thank you for your comments regarding the program, The O'Reilly Factor.

Lowe's has strict guidelines that govern the placement of our advertising. Our company advertises primarily in national, network prime-time television programs and on a variety of cable outlets.

Lowe's constantly reviews advertising buys to make certain they are consistent with its policy guidelines. The O'Reilly Factor does not meet Lowe's advertising guidelines, and the company's advertising will no longer appear during the program.

We are dedicated to providing the best service, products, and shopping environment in the home improvement industry. All three of these are very important to our business, and our customers will always be our number one priority.

We appreciate your contacting us, and hope this information addresses your concerns.

Thank you,

Lowe's Customer Care

On the other hand, here is how Home Depot is responding:

Our advertising campaigns have one simple objective to communicate with audiences in the most effective way possible. The Company is receptive to many forms and styles of media as we seek a balanced representation of programming to reach our customer base. Unfortunately campaigns like this one cause us to take time away from our sustainability goals and address a variance of political views.

By the way, I also bought Adobe right after the Macromedia acquisition was announced. I work with both Adobe and Macromedia products, and the two companies seemed like a good fit to me. A week after I bought the stock at around $54, it split. Even after this week's bloodbath, it closed at $40.39. I think I've done OK.

Thank you, Walter.


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