Follow-Up on the NCAA
The Most Serene Rich Man in the World
A Great Travel Stock
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Last Monday, inspired by the annual media frenzy about March Madness, I wrote about the corrupting influence of the NCAA’s money on the post-secondary educational system in this country. Interestingly, every single person who responded agreed with me.
The best letter included this.
I think the most bizarre violation of the importance placed on sports in college is the current situation at Kentucky. The school no longer can be a top flight basketball power, so they hire a big-name coach who has had major violations associated with his two previous colleges of employment … but WINS, enters Kentucky, several players leave that have athletic and educational commitments between the school and them, and in their place the coach recruits several top players in the country and a few of them will only attend school for one year and then move onto the pros where they should have gone in the first place. The school is happy because they’re winning again … but their graduation rate plummets … but who really cares!! Not the school, not the NCAA, and certainly not the alumni!! Now an investigation should be initiated on why some other academia, like Duke, UNC, etc., (major basketball powers) didn’t try to recruit these same players. But besides those institutions and their integrity and standards, nobody cares, especially the TV media … BECAUSE THEY (Kentucky, the NCAA, TV and more) ARE ALL MAKING MONEY!!
“Enough on this ridiculous subject!! You requested some feedback, so I gave you some.”
M.M., Tampa Bay, Florida
Clearly, he knows more about it than me, and he’s got more passion, too!
Moving on, I was happy to read this week that the Templeton Prize was awarded to genetic researcher Francisco Ayala. That the announcement got little press was not surprising; it never does. But I think it deserves greater exposure, so here goes.
Sir John Marks Templeton was born a poor boy in Tennessee in 1912, but he studied hard, graduated from Yale University, and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
And he became one of the very best investors of the past century, amassing billions of dollars by investing in underappreciated foreign countries (looking where few others dared look) and holding patiently.
He founded the Templeton family of mutual funds, which are now under the Franklin umbrella.
He was knighted in 1987 by Queen Elizabeth II. That same year, I heard him speak at Babson College, when he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.
Templeton impressed me as the most serene rich man I had ever met, and the most optimistic, too. His understanding of human history, and the great progress mankind had made, gave him confidence that our progress in the future would be equally as great. Templeton saw not problems, but opportunities … opportunities for solutions, and opportunities for investment.
He died peacefully in 2008, at age 95.
But his good works live on, because of the Templeton Foundation, which every year since 1973 has awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. It used to be called the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, but the name was changed, in part because the word “Religion” is fraught with meanings, and Templeton wanted society to progress beyond current dogma.
The Templeton Prize is not as famous as the Nobel Prize, so it’s bigger, on purpose. This year it was one million pounds sterling, or roughly $1.5 million.
So what has Francisco Ayala done to deserve this prize?
Ayala was born in Madrid in 1934, shortly before the terrors of the Spanish Civil War under Franco. He became a Dominican priest in 1960, but left soon after, moving to New York (though he spoke almost no English) to pursue a doctorate at Columbia University. His thesis established that rates of evolution depend on the genetic variation of a species.
Ayala moved to California in the 1970s. He’s published more than 1,000 papers and 40 books, mainly on the topic of evolution. And he’s now a big cheese at the University of California at Irvine.
He’s perhaps most famous for his work toward eliminating malaria, in which he studied the evolution of the parasites that spread the disease.
Along the way, using his status as an expert in evolution, Ayala has worked hard to warn about the intrusion of religion into science. In fact, he testified as an expert witness in a U.S. federal court challenge that led to the overturning of an Arkansas law mandating the teaching of creationism alongside evolution.
One the other hand, Ayala has also defended religion, saying that faith is a unique and important window to understanding matters of purpose, values and the meaning of life.
In brief, he’s argued that Science and Religion are two different windows of looking at the world, and that they don’t contradict, because they don’t study the same regions of the world.
Ayala says, for example, that the Bible is not a book of chemistry, astrology or physics; it’s a book about faith, and should not be presumed to explain how the world and mankind were formed.
Similarly, science has no place explaining morality, aesthetics or God. Those are judgments made by looking through a different window.
However, and this is where it gets interesting, Ayala says that each discipline can help bring progress to the other. The physical evolution of the brain has enabled the development of ethical behavior that other animals lack. And the development of faith and morality have contributed to our evolution.
Now, I’m not saying I agree with everything Ayala says, but I do think it’s worth thinking about. And I applaud his efforts to bring people together (when so many people exacerbate divisiveness and intolerance), by attempting to reconcile the perceived differences between Science and Religion.
There are videos on Ayala on both the Templeton Prize Web site and YouTube if you’d like to learn more.
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As to the stock market, these are the best of times. Period. The bull market is healthy, consumers are buying again, and there are dozens of quality growth stocks hitting new highs. I’m talking clothing, restaurants, entertainment, even automotive accessories. But today I want to focus on travel.
Just two weeks ago, in her Saturday edition of Cabot Wealth Advisory, Elyse Andrews had positive recommendations for both Priceline (PCLN) and UAL Corp. (UAUA), the parent company of United Airlines.
Since then, UAUA has done nothing; it’s continuing to build a base at 20, and still has great potential. (Note: if you dislike flying for any reason, including dirty airplanes, unruly crowds, bad food, long waits and lousy service, try to ignore those feelings. The stock doesn’t care about your feelings).
Meanwhile, PCLN has vaulted ahead more than 20 points, topping 260. I think it will go higher still, and if that high price seems too rich for you, I suggest you just buy fewer shares.
And today one more travel stock popped into view, earning a spot in Cabot Top Ten Report. It’s a major hotel company with nearly $5 billion in revenues, and it’s very well managed. The company makes a profit every year, and even pays a small dividend. Still, in the Great Recession of 2008-2009, investors tossed the stock in the garbage bin with other travel stocks, as businesspeople and vacationers alike simply stopped traveling.
But this year the stock is roaring back. The latest quarter saw surprisingly good earnings. Institutions are flooding back into the stock. It’s a powerful turnaround story! And if you’d like to get the full story, you can get it by taking a no-risk trial subscription to Cabot Top Ten Report. Simply click here.
Otherwise, good luck with PCLN and UAUA.
Yours in pursuit of wisdom and wealth,
Cabot Wealth Advisory