Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST Friday, April 21, 2006: Rebalancing.
Selling. Buying. Changing. I always dream that one day I'll buy a nice portfolio
of investments and sit with them forever. It doesn't work that way any longer.
Item: yesterday, they sold one of my syndicated buildings. They sold it at a
handsome profit. I'd hoped to hold it for several years and live on the rent.
It is not to be. Today I'm moving more money into hedge funds that are doing
well. I hope that my extra monies won't be "the kiss of death,"
causing their performance to slump into the toilet. Don't laugh, it's happened
before. Next week begins the saga of Harry The Jinx, Part 1. Just kidding.
Feeling good about the weekend.
The joy of not working for yourself.
It's different. They no longer listen nor obey. That now applies to your investment
managers and others with whom you entrust your money. They now have the right
not to make your stupid decisions, but to make their own.
airline Insanity: I'm giving a talk in Minneapolis
on May 15 -- flying in the morning, flying out that afternoon. My round-trip
ticket from New York cost $1,024. If I booked it today, it would cost $1249.
That's in economy. I no longer why Northwest Airlines (NWACQ.PK) is losing money
hand over fist and whose shares are selling at 62 cents. Locals call them "NorthWorst
Airlines." I gather it earns its nickname every day, one lousy flight
can't get all of them right: Google is up.
TiVo is up. I don't own either. I'm kicking myself. Nor did I recommend them
recently. This wasn't for lack of research Sometimes you can get too close to
a company and see all its fine warts. Want some warts on these two? Personally
I think they're probably great shorts today. But this is NOT a game I'm playing.
warming? Whether you believe in global warming
or not is irrelevant. Fact is that it's happening. It no longer makes sense
to buy houses on the beach. Figure what a several foot rise in the ocean will
do. It's not a pretty site. Think New Orleans after Katrina.
investment advice -- NO! You're an expert.
Your friends and family ask for advice. Don't give it. I repeat. Don't give
it. Giving investment advice is a totally no-win situation. Your friends
and family won't take your advice when you give it. They'll take part of it
-- late. They'll mess the timing up. They'll buy at the wrong time. They'll
wait too long to sell. They'll lose money. And then they'll get mad at you.
They'll never understand that it was their stupid fault. And telling them they're
an idiot will only make things worse.
Discuss investment ideas with people like yourself. People who know something.
Listen to ideas you read -- including those on this column. But always research
any idea to death before committing hard cash.
Alltel gives free phone calls: Alltel
is the last remaining large, independent cell phone company. It operates in
36 states. Today it said it would let its higher-paying cellphone customers
make free calls to any 10 numbers regardless of the cellphone or land-line carrier
of the person being called. This program is not dissimilar to MCI's immensely-successful
"Friends and Family" program. Alltel (AT) is a screaming takeover
target that is both profitable and growing.
are your servants, not your masters.
Rule number one: Assume their recommendation
is wrong. Remember they are as wrong in what they recommend as any other mortal.
Don't get me started on recent bad (i.e. expensive) lawyer recommendations.
Rule number two: These days lawyers make more and more decisions because
they're scared, and fewer and fewer decisions to help you do what you
want to do.
Rule number three: Always learn enough to be able to question their recommendations
-- in short to be personally dangerous.
"Any ship can be a minesweeper........once." A friend sent
me this anonymous aphorism yesterday. I don't quite know its significance. But
I'm guessing it's profound.
with the big guys -- NO! It's natural to believe (i.e. hope) that
one day soon, the biggies in technology -- Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Cisco, etc.
-- will come roaring back. Nice hope, but fantasy. Yesterday I talked about
how Intel can't even make a faster Pentium chip. Today, I bring you Microsoft,
courtesy, Paul Thurrott, who writes a respected web site called "SuperSite
for Windows." Yesterday's long posting on Microsoft's new and every
important revision of the Windows operating system contained:
with Microsoft for many years, I can say this much with certainty: The company
is literally filled to the brim with some of the brightest, smartest, most
insightful, and friendliest people I've ever met. Some of my best friends
work at the company either directly or indirectly (in some cases doing PR
work), and I've established long term friendly relationships with numerous
people I've come into contact with specifically because of my job writing
about technology. Despite these enviable assets, Microsoft has made some mind-numbing
mistakes. It (illegally, as it turns out) artificially bundled its immature
Internet Explorer (I.E.) Web browser so deeply into Windows in order to harm
Netscape that it's still paying the price for the decision -- a full decade
later -- in the form of regular critical security flaws that have taken away
time from developers that might have otherwise been spent innovating new features.
The company itself has turned into that thing it most hated (read: IBM), an
endlessly complex hierarchy of semi-autonomous middle managers and vice presidents
of various levels and titles, many of whom can't seem to make even the smallest
of decisions. The company is too big and too slow to ship updates to its biggest
products. It's collapsing under its own weight. ...
OK, let's not
get silly here. I don't hate Windows Vista, and I certainly don't hate Microsoft
for disappointing me and countless other customers with a product that doesn't
even come close to meeting its original promises. I'm sure the company learned
something from this debacle, and hopefully it will be more open and honest
about what it can and cannot do in the future. But you'd have to be special
kind of stupid to look at Windows Vista and see it as the be-all, end-all
of operating systems. It some ways, Windows Vista actually will exceed Mac
OS X and Linux, but not to the depth we were promised. Instead, Windows Vista
will do what so many other Windows releases have done, and simply offer consumers
and business users a few major changes and many subtle or minor updates. That's
not horrible. It's just not what was promised. Because it failed so obviously
with Vista, my guess is that Microsoft is a bit gun shy about major OS releases
and will be for some time. And that's too bad. Windows Vista was Microsoft's
first chance since Windows 95 to reach for the golden ring. It may be another
decade before they try again.
entire article, click
son, Michael, turned me onto this wonderful book:
I couldn't put the book down. Before I finished it, I was writing a check to
Paul Farmer's Partners In Health. I knew I wanted to be a lifelong supporter
of Farmer's work.
Last night I met Farmer and hear him talk about 1.2 million
patient visits a year he's treating in Haiti, of his work in Siberia, of his
new clinic in Rwanda and of huge health problems (AIDs, TB, etc.) throughout
much of Africa. I'm writing Partners in Health another check today. Don't
believe. Read the book. Here's a good description:
can learn more about Farmer's Partners in Health at their web site. Click
At the center
of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor,
renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a
MacArthur genius grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought
up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his lifes calling:
to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools
of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows
how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable,
and it also shows how a meaningful life can be created, as Farmerbrilliant,
charismatic, charming, both a leader in international health and a doctor
who finds time to make house calls in Boston and the mountains of Haitiblasts
through convention to get results.
Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer
changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that
"the only real nation is humanity" - a philosophy that is embodied
in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the
help of the Gates Foundation, George Soros, the U.N.s World Health Organization,
and others in his quest to cure the world. At the heart of this book is the
example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the
Haitian proverb Beyond mountains there are mountains: as you solve
one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to
solve that one too.
Putting words in their mouths. How the press creates
The British Embassy in Paris is called by a French newspaper: "What
does the Ambassador wish for Christmas?
Says the Embassy, "He can't possibly accept gifts from the Press."
Reporter: "No, really, what is his Christmas wish?"
Embassy, "We don't accept gifts."
Reporter. "No, we are asking all the ambassadors."
Embassy, "All right, put him down for a small box of chocolate mints."
This article appeared:
The German Ambassador's
Christmas wish is for "Peace on Earth Good will towards all men".
The American Ambassador's
Christmas wish is for "freedom and free trade on an equal footing between
The British Ambassador
would like a small box of chocolate mints.
sense of humor
people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured
in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled
for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for
the great ship after its stop in New York.
This would have
been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But
as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg
and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.
The people of
Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery,
were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared
a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.
The National Day
of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko
(Check that again.
Note that Cinco is misspelled.)
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 click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me
from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role
in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty
interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm
not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law
school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click
here and here.