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Fool.com market expert to talk here

One of the best known and most irreverent investment sites on the Internet is sending one of its jesters to Southern Oregon.

Barbara Eisner Bayer, a columnist for The Motley Fool, will speak to local investors Saturday in Medford. Bayer is the featured speaker at the local chapter of the National Association of Investment Clubs annual meeting.

— — THE MOTLEY FOOL

What:

Barbara Eisner Bayer, a columnist for The Motley Fool, — speaks.

When:

10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Where:

Reston Hotel, Medford.

Tickets:

$20 in advance, $25 at the door; include lunch. — For tickets, call 734-0849 or 482-2964 by Friday morning.

Ownership:

The Motley Fool is a privately owned company — founded by brothers David and Tom Gardner and partner Erik Rydholm; — based in Alexandria, Va.

History:

Founded as newsletter in 1993, launched service — on America Online in 1994 and launched its own site in 1997.

Products:

Web site (www.fool.com), monthly magazine and — radio show, syndicated newspaper columns, company research reports and — other financial advice publications. — —

The Motley Fool is a wildly popular financial information service best known for its Web site (www.fool.com). In six years, it's grown from a newsletter and small America Online service to a Web site with 1.4 million members and more than 2 million unique visitors a month.

The Fool's rise to fame has coincided with phenomenal gains on Wall Street -- gains that average investors have shared in more than ever before. The company made its mark feeding investors' hunger to be part of the action on their own terms.

The main goal is to empower individuals to know how to do it themselves, says Bayer, who was a member of the Fool's online service before becoming an employee in 1995. She is one of 16 employees who do regular speaking engagements.

Bayer says the Fool's aim is to teach investment basics in a fun, easy-to-understand way to people who'd rather learn themselves than pay an investment professional for expertise.

Everybody likes to feel educated and empowered to make their own decisions, she says. And nobody wants to pay anybody money if they can do it themselves.

Mary Lee Maxwell of the local NAIC chapter says the Fool is extremely popular among area investment clubs.

Everybody knows the Motley Fool, she says. That's just our love. They are just so down-to-earth.

A few months ago, Bayer undoubtedly would have faced a room buzzing with the euphoria of double-digit gains. But weeks of volatility have cut into some of those profits.

So how are the individual investors weathering the suddenly stormy stock market?

Pretty well, Bayer says. The Fool's advice has always been to invest for the long haul and keep the markets' ups and downs in perspective, she says.

Our theory is that the way to become wealthy is to hold for the long-term, she says.

Judging from the site's message boards, she says, the Fool's faithful are keeping an even keel. In fact, she attributes much of the volatility to large institutional investors -- mutual fund managers and the like -- concerned about making sure their portfolios look good on quarterly reports.

Many individual investors, she notes, are still ahead -- even if they aren't as far ahead as they were.

But don't try to find out what happens next by asking Bayer. The underlying principle of long-term investing is that you can't predict short-term trends.

Because we can't predict, we don't try, she says.

The Fool's Web site doesn't offer specific stock tips, though Bayer says members sometimes mistake its model portfolios as advice. The model portfolios are meant to teach about different investment theories.

Both lauded and criticized for its irreverent take on the stock market, the Fool can sound downright conventional. Bayer's' advice includes traditional buy-and-hold philosophy (Don't put money in the market that you are going to need in the next five years)

and old adages such as buy what you know.

Bayer, for instance, says she don't understand all the accounting nuances done by financial companies, so she doesn't invest in those stocks.

The Fool's common-sense approach and light-hearted tone has been a major drawing card. Bayer says the attitude is central to the company's philosophy.

It's not enough to just educate. You have to amuse and enrich, she says, parroting the company's Educate, Amuse, Enrich motto.

To keep the fresh feel, the Fool's staff is a mix of people from formal investing backgrounds and neophytes who are learning along with readers. For instance, Bayer was a professional writer who did mainly music reviews before joining the Fool's messages boards and, eventually, its staff.