Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
AM EST, Monday, July
20, 2009. Wonderful, restful weekend, with one disturbing
conclusion. Our world, as we know it, is being wrenched apart. This is no "normal"
recession, with demand down and profits ready to rebound once inventories and
employment are brought into line. This is the wholesale destruction of industries
as we knew them, including::
The auto industry.
Commercial real estate, especially retail stores and shopping centers.
The imminent bankruptcy of over-leveraged firms. See BusinessWeek's "The
Time Bomb in Corporate Debt." Click
4. Media. My dear
friend told me of a conversation with his ultra-bright 13-year old, in which
the kid told his father "We live in different worlds. I live the virtual
world." He explained his world is the Internet and the world of social
networking. Morgan Stanleys media analyst is getting good press after
asking a 15-year-old intern Matthew Robson to pen its latest research note --
giving a teens view on digital media. They're devastating to old media.
5. Health care.
My friend, the radiologist, tells me radiologists have been fleeing Australia
for America because of socialized medicine. He worries where will they flee
to after we screw up health care. Meantime, he tells me no one is buying medical
imaging equipment from companies like GE, Siemens and Philips (the three leaders)
until there's more clarity on what we're doing here.
Let's start with
health care: First, you must read the long New Yorker article by Atul
Gawande, a medical doctor. It explains why medical expenses are out of control
in some places and why health care is so hard to fix. It's a brilliant
here. My friend, the radiologist, says "The Hippocratic Oath goes
only so far. At some you need to figure how to keep doctors incentivized. If
you keep cutting their incomes, you'll have doctors as government employees.
Your health will be run by Amtrak, or, worse, the post office."
My friend bills
an imaging service at $100. He gets paid between $9 and $44, depending on the
insurance company. He gets back $36 from Medicare.
I said "So,
increase your fees." He said, "Can't do that. It's regulated."
The New Yorker
piece talks about doctors investing in imaging clinics, diagnostic clinics and
in hospitals, and recommending their clients get their services. That's being
slowly regulated too. My friends tell me there are limits on recommending places
in which you have "ownership interest" in. But if the doctor owns
the imaging equipment outright, there are no restrictions, for now.
socialized medicine that sort of works. But most everyone (certainly my friends)
carry private insurance for services not paid for by the government, e.g. the
ambulance ride to the hospital, a private room in the hospital, a specialist
of their choice or accupuncture (chiropractors are covered). Australia gives
a tax break on health insurance premiums, like we do on interest payments. I
know which one I'd rather have.
As regards media,
here's the Morgan Stanley report.
And here's a report on it:
Research Note: We Dont Buy News, Do Steal Music, Hate Twitter
media analyst business is getting good press after asking 15-year-old intern
Matthew Robson to pen its latest research note - giving a teens view
on digital media. Were not quite sure how just one career-minded kid
with all the right buzzwords can speak for a nation of teenagers (see Suw
Charmans post on that), but here are the highlights:.
No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not
have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while
they could watch the news summarized on the Internet or on TV. The only newspapers
that are read are tabloids and freesheets mainly because of cost; teenagers
are very reluctant to pay for a newspaper.
Facebook is the most common social network, with nearly everyone with
an Internet connection registered and visiting more than 4 times a week. Teenagers
do not use Twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave
it as they release that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting
Twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit).
In addition, they realize that no one is viewing their profile, so their tweets
Teenagers listen to a lot of music, mostly whilst doing something else.
They are very reluctant to pay for it (most never having bought a CD) and
a large majority (8/10) downloading it illegally from file sharing sites ...
Almost all teenagers like to have a hard copy of the song (a file
of the song that they can keep on their computer and use at will) so that
they can transfer it to portable music players and share it with friends ...
iTunes is unpopular with many teenagers because of the high price
(79p per song).
As a rule, teenagers have phones on pay as you go ... As most teenagers
phones have Bluetooth support, and Bluetooth is free, they utilise this feature
often to send songs and videos (even though it is illegal) ... Mobile email
is not used ... Teenagers do not use the Internet features on their mobiles
as it costs too much.
Teenagers visit the cinema more often when they are in the lower end
of teendom (13 and 14) ... at 15, they have to pay the adult price ... Also,
it is possible to buy a pirated DVD of the film at the time of release
Most teenagers watch television ... they will watch a particular show
at a certain time for a number of weeks ... but then they may watch no television
for weeks after the (season) has ended.
Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio ... Now with
online sites streaming music for free they do not bother.
PC gaming has little or no place in the teenage market.
Most teenagers enjoy and support viral marketing, as often it creates
humorous and interesting content. Teenagers see adverts on websites (pop ups,
banner ads) as extremely annoying and pointless.
In short, there
are a lot of industries to stay away from.
Fructose Diets Impair Memory in Rats: Diets high in fructose, a type
of sugar found in most processed foods and beverages, impaired the spatial memory
of adult rats, according to researchers at Georgia State University. Amy Ross,
a graduate student in the lab of Marise Parent, associate professor at Georgia
State's Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology, fed a group of
Sprague-Dawley rats a diet in which fructose represented 60 percent of calories
ingested during the day. She placed the rats in a pool of water to test their
ability to learn to find a submerged platform that allowed them to get out of
the water. She took them back to the pool two days later with no platform to
see whether they could remember to swim to the platform's location. "What
we discovered is that the fructose diet doesn't affect their ability to learn,"
Parent said. "But they can't seem to remember as well where the platform
was when you take it away. They swam more randomly than rats fed a control diet."
another sugar, glucose, is processed almost solely by the liver. It produces
an excessive amount of triglycerides fat that get into the bloodstream.
Triglycerides can interfere with insulin signaling in the brain, which plays
a major role in brain cell survival and plasticity, or the ability of the brain
to change based on new experiences. Results were similar in adolescent rats,
but it is unclear whether the effects of high fructose consumption are permanent,
she said. Fructose includes common table sugar and fruit juice concentrates,
as well as the much-maligned high fructose corn syrup.
Although humans do not eat fructose in levels as high as the rats in the experiments,
the consumption of foods sweetened with fructose has been increasing steadily.
High intake of fructose is associated with numerous health problems, including
insulin insensitivity, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
"The bottom line is that we were meant to have an apple a day as our source
of fructose," Parent said. "And now, we have fructose in almost everything."
Moderation is key, as well as exercise, she said.
small positions. I bought a little Female Health Company. The company
makes a female condom which prevents pregnancies and AIDs. Non-profit agencies
give the condom away in huge quantities. STEC is a custom solid memory maker,
with a recent solid state memory drive contract with the U.S. military. Both
companies are on a tear (not a huge one, but a little one). Both my positions
won't make me rich or poor. They're more for amusement.
This market iremains
ultra-weird. The explosion in tech stocks, for example, (up 45% from the March
lows) has no justification in earnings nor in prospects for strong earnings.
But tech stocks seem to keep climbing. Best Buy confounded me. I had a small
short, which I closed at a loss. Talk about management talking up with the stock
with a flow of press releases! Magnificent public relations.
At some stage,
tech stocks will turn down. And we'll be looking at lower prices for recent
high-flyers like Google, Amazon, Best Buy and Research in Motion (RIMM). There
is discussion that RIMM could become the next Motorola, as Apple's iPhone kicks
butt and Palm's Pre soars. RIMM's BlackBerrys are light years behind the iPhone
in technological wizardry and user friendliness.
Voice is stupendous. Sign up for an invitation.
More on that tomorrow.
or Google for search? Try Bing (at Bing.com).
It seems to be better than Google. Use both. They often return different "finds."
Old Cowboy from Texas.
The old cowboy sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. A pretty young
woman sat down next to him..
She asked, 'Are
you a real cowboy?'
He replied, 'Well,
I've spent my whole life breaking colts, working cattle, going to rodeos, fixing
fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing
flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy..'
She said, 'I spend
my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning,
I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I
watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked
women. I'm a lesbian."
The two sat drinking
A little while
later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, 'Are you
a real cowboy?'
The old man replied,
'I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.'
For Old Timers....
old men went into the pro shop after playing 18 holes of golf. The pro asked,
'Did you guys have a good game today?'
The first old
guy said, 'Yes, I had three riders today.'
The second old
guy said, 'I had the most riders ever. I had five.'
The third old
guy said, 'I had 7 riders, the same as last time.'
The last old man
said, 'I beat my old record, I had 12 riders today.'
After they went
into the locker room, another golfer who had heard the old guys talking about
their game went to the pro and said, 'I have been playing golf for a long time
and thought I knew all the terminology of the game, but what is a rider?'
The pro said,
'A rider is when you hit the ball far enough to get in the golf cart and ride
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
is . You can't
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