Waiting Game

PATIENCE is the catchcry of those in the technology game as they seek to soothe their disgruntled investors.

Two good examples came to my attention this week.

Both, I might add, by way of declaring my interest, came from the chiefs of companies in which I have a small share-holding.

The first was ERG boss Peter Fogarty, who stood before an assembled throng of 200 or so shareholders whose collective ERG-linked wealth was substantially lower than the previous year.

With shares down from about $4.50 last year to around 60 cents, Mr Fogarty was at pains to point out that the company was acting with the longer term in mind.

Basically, my reading of his speech was that the company was prepared to forego more readily available returns in order to take a bigger piece of the pie at a later date.

I seem to recall some point in time, around three years hence, being about the period when things should get better.

All that is fair enough.

If I were running a company, I would want to put off expectations of delivery as long as I could.

But that is not what bothers me.

The big issue is whether or not ERG shares are going to look anything like they did a year ago, plus a fair market rate of return, in 2004.

Otherwise it could seem like one step forward, two steps back.

And no matter how much patience you have, that leaves you behind where you started.

Then there was the other corporate king preaching patience.

Supposedly, this gentleman’s speech was off the record so I won’t go into too much detail, save to say he heads a giant Australian telecommunications company with interests in pay television.

You can work the rest out.

In the interest of being sporting, I have no intention of quoting much of the interesting anecdotes about how his kids use SMS more than he does.

It is simply that he spoke of inevitability in his market.

That, for example, it is inevitable Australians will find a killer application for mobile phones which have caught on in other markets.

The Japanese like paying for the latest mobile phone screen savers and jingles, while some Scandanavians constantly pay to check public transport times to avoid standing out in the cold.

I share this corporate leader’s view about the inevitability of technology take-up.

The problem I have is that waiting for the inevitable is not necessarily a good way of making money.

Patience has its place, but investors will have to make up their own minds whether their capital could be achieving something else while they wait to remake all that money they used to have.

We need you

IT is time for a quick plug for our 40 under 40 project, which has been quietly gathering some momentum.

We already have a fair smattering of nominees and I think it is right to remind people that there are no restrictions on entry.

As we have already published in previous weeks, the entrants range from an established in-vestment banker to a commercial cake maker.

This week we have a property manager whose expertise is promoting shopping centres.

The point is, it takes all types and it is simply worth having a go.

A formidable panel of judges will assess the various merits of each nomination.

Even those who don’t make our top 40 will benefit from this process.

We are trying to give some up and coming Western Australians a boost, so help us by nominating someone you think is worthy.

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