Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Friday, December 23, 2005: What
a wonderful country. Gerry's Copper Mountain, Colorado house has doubled in
value in the past few years. This means his skiing is free for the rest of his
life. And his families' skiing. And mine, too.
As his Christmas
present, I bought him a cable modem. Cost: $95 plus an incredibly cheap
$19.95 a month for the service. It took me three minutes to install it.
And another three to hook up the $95 Linksys wireless router I'd brought
from Radio Shack. Now Gerry's entire house is wirelessly on the Internet.
It's lightning fast. I'm sitting in bed checking out Wall Street news and writing
village is 9,700 feet -- nearly two miles -- above Manhattan. This means this
morning I have a splitting headache. I'm assured by the locals I'll feel better
when I ski down the world's best mountain.
This past summer Copper Mountain spent $66 million to improve its infrastructure
-- bigger and faster chairlifts. That's much more per capita than Manhattan
spent. I bet Copper would fix the mountain-size pothole outside my apartment
faster than New York City does.
recruit their workforce from Australian colleges. Copper's winter season corresponds
perfectly to the three months summer vacations Australian college kids get.
Hence, invoking an Australian accent -- I give lessons -- will secure you the
local "Australian discount" -- in my case 25% off my ski rental
and 20% off a helmet and a pair of pants. Finally, my awful, low-class Australian
accent has bankable value.
They're forecasting more fresh powder snow from the sky today. Michael, my son,
has announced firmly than he and his creaking, 40-year older father (i.e. me)
will be on the first chairlift up the mountain this morning and the last chairlift
up the mountain this afternoon. This may give father-son bonding a whole new
meaning. But, will my body survive?
Things I learned in 2005."
Yesterday I published my preliminary list. In case you missed it, here's it
again. Please send me your list.
Family is number one. They provide far more joy than any humble GM short
2. My own health is number two. I hate exercise. But I love tennis and
bicycling, which I don't consider "exercise." Everyone has to find
their own physical pleasure.
3. Capital preservation is the most important investment goal. It takes
many 10% a year gains to get back the money you completely lost. My mantra now
is "When in doubt, stay out." Sadly, you'll also forgo great
gains. Don't flagellate yourself with "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda."
I'm the master of brilliant investment decisions I almost made. I'm learning
to stop rebuking myself for my dumbness. It's hard. The evidence is so strong.
4. Control is key. I've made a thousand times more money with investments
I've had some control over than deals I hand them my money and pray. Sadly,
when you've made your money with the business you just sold, you have to find
something to do with your gains. Start with sticking all the money in muni bonds
and treasuries. Avoid the temptation to play angel. Absent the temptation, you
wouldn't be reading this column. I'd be on the beach. Not me. Dumb.
5. Constant learning is next. My first love was technology. My new love
is investing. I thought I could learn this stuff quickly. Wrong. I'm seven years
into it full-time. I figure I have another 30 to go. By then, I'll be truly
6. Nothing is predictable. Well, not true. You can see that Whole
Foods is making it and GM isn't. But gold at $800 or $400? When in
doubt, stay out. Be diversified. That way you bet on everything. Well, not everything.
But things that make sense to you.
7. Some investments take a long time. At one point my private equity/leveraged
buyout fund was down 50%. Now it's up 22%. But that took four years. In those
years, I rode a rough emotional rollercoaster.
8. Due diligence is necessary, but not foolproof. The best researcher
is you. Don't rely on anyone else. Check out whatever anyone tells you before
you commit your money. Their ten years of happy experience is no guarantee that
your ten years will be happy.
9. Nobody listens. Nobody. I've tried with the New York Times, TiVo.
Toshiba, etc. But, once every blue moon I find somebody.... Remember they have
your money. They can and do with it what they will. And it most likely won't
agree with what you believe.
10. Rebooting works for everything. Turn
it off. Wait for 30 seconds. Then turn it on again. Bingo, it will work.
presents for the kids:
My dear friend, Dan writes,
presents, I bought two 60 gig Video iPods for the two oldest grandkids (ages
6 and 8) and loaded The March of the Penguins on them along
with all six Harry Potter audio books (a few TV kids TV shows and songs as
well). Cant wait to see their reactions on Christmas morning.
I die, I want to come back as one of Dan's grandkids.
2005 -- The M&A Year:
Friday, December 23. North Pole and Jerusalem: Christmas and Hanukkah
will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for
about 1300 years, among the longer M&A negotiations, according to Goldman
Sachs and Morgan Stanley who handled the negotiations.
were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having
twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hanukkah was becoming
prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, the world will be able to enjoy
consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Chrismukah,
as the new holiday is being called.
are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit.
As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently
in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to an even
Instead of translating
to "A great miracle happened there," the message on the dreydl will
be the more generic "Miraculous stuff happens." Jews will now be allowed
to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering
One of the sticking
points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question
of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa after having
eating meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally
declared to be Kosher.
A spokesman for
Christmas, Inc., declined to say if a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the
works. He pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa,
the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might be seen as an unfair cornering
of the holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will
help to maintain the competitive balance and avoid any regulatory and anti-trust
problems. He closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing
rendition of "Oy Vey, All Ye Faithful."
Be nice to the
family. See you next Tuesday.
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click
+ All turned on by biotech. Click
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available:
Click here. The full audio is available. Click
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click
+ When to sell stocks. Click
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.