Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Thursday, December 29, 2005: Last
day of skiing. If I keep doing this enough I may even come to enjoy it. Tennis
is more appealing. You get to pit your brain and skills against someone. With
skiing, the game is to look pretty coming down the hill. It's a little self-indulgent
for my increasingly puritan tastes. Moreover, I'm not big on frozen fingers
and aching joints.
I looked at a real estate investment last night. I noticed some new criteria:
1. Due diligence on the developers will take me time and cost
me money (credit and legal checks, etc.) One project for a small investment
wouldn't be worth it. What are their long-term plans?
2. What are the projected cash returns. It's nice to look at a 30%+ IRR. But
seeing the first cash returns in four to five years is not appealing.
That's a long time to monitor the project, guess the results and stay stuck
in -- with no control.
Dumb. Dumb. at&t is the SBC Communications plus the last
remnants of the old AT&T. When I first came into telecom in 1969, AT&T
was the world's largest phone company, with over a million employees. Through
a bunch of monumentally stupid decisions, the venerable "widows and orphans"
stock got smaller and smaller and less profitable and less profitable. By the
time SBC finally put the thing out of its misery, AT&T had dropped to under
50,000 sorry employees and profits had evaporated. Now SBC is about to spend
a large fortune advertising its new name, at&t (note the lower case). This
smells like the beginnings of a Cockroach stock and a great short. Soon to join
my wonderful GM.
My favorite digital camera -- the Canon SD450. It's
performing great. You can easily ski with it. New tips:
1. Digital cameras don't handle contrasty scenes. You have to figure what you
care about by aiming the camera at that area, pushing the button down a little,
holding it, then framing the picture the way you want it.
2. All digital photos look better when underexposed -- i.e. darker. I cut the
default on the SD450 to minus 2/3rds of a stop. Pictures look better.
3. Never transfer photos from the camera to your PC with the cable and the manufacturer's
stupid software. Take the memory card out of the camera and slide it into one
of those $20 USB memory readers or $10 adapters that slide into one of your
laptop's PCMCIA slot. Much faster and easier.
Everything is on sale: Or
at least seems to be based on emails from all my favorite clothing suppliers,
LL Bean, Eddie Bauers, Lands End and Sierra Trading Post. The sad part is I
don't need any new clothing and, even if I did, I'd have nowhere to put it.
My wife is on a "throw it out" binge.
Beware of emails from eBay and PayPal: The
emails warn you of something horrible and then ask you to click and confirm
your financial information. Don't even think about it. Delete the emails without
reading them. They're phishing (spelled correctly) for your credit cards so
they can steal from you.
The business of skiing. It costs $80 to $900 a day to pay someone
to schlepp you up a mountain. For $900 you can go in a heated helicopter. For
$80 you get to go on a windblown chairlift. Then you have to stay somewhere.
No self-respecting person would stay in a hotel. Better your own second, third
or fourth home.
"Homes" usually cost several million. When you get to $10 million,
they're no longer called "homes," they're called "starter
castles." (I don't make this stuff up.) Above $15 million you get into
the realm of real castles. May I suggest 480 Strawberry Park Road in Beaver
Creek, a gated community replete with its own private ski area and ski lifts.
The 10421 square feet, nine bedroom 480 Strawberry Park Road is available for
a puny $17,500,000, not including the furniture!
It's an all stone building. The courtyard driveway is fully heated.
The view is "to die for."
The bathtub has been carved out of a single piece of granite. The window
treatments will stay.
You don't get the furniture. But several large fireplaces do work.
This is how the
agent describes the place:
"Parc de Fraise" is a French Chateau imagined from the French Alps
made credible in a ski-in, ski-out location in Beaver Creek's Strawberry Park.
Most of the nine bedrooms plus nursery, nine full bathrooms, 3 powder rooms,
two offices, a large family room with bar, a teen room, an exercise area,
lower deck with outdoor hot tub, and an expansive upper deck offer spectacular
views of Beaver Creek Village and of the ski slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain.
Light and sunshine enhance the character of the living room and dining area
which are framed by dramatic bay windows. As dusk approaches and there is
a chill in the air, two facing fireplaces with carved limestone mantels add
a new, striking focus to this beautiful chateau. Parc de Fraise has timeless
appeal. It is truly a noble home.
don't forget the helicopter:
This is the
view from your very own Bell 407 helicopter. Pity you need the instrument panel.
It does cut the view.
old Borscht Belt lines: Note, not one curse
* There was a beautiful young woman knocking on my hotel room door all night!
I finally had to let her out.
* A car hit an elderly Jewish man. The paramedic says, "Are you comfortable?"
The man says, "I make a good living."
* Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won't be reporting it. The thief
spends less than my wife did.
* I was just in London - there is a 6-hour time difference. I'm still confused.
When I go to dinner, I feel sexy. When I go to bed, I feel hungry.
* The doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so
the doctor gave him another six months.
* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back."
Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"
* Doctor: "You'll live to be 60!"
Patient: "I AM 60!"
Doctor: "See! What did I tell you?"
* A doctor has
a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, "Doc, how do I stand?"
The doctor says, "That's what puzzles me!"
* A drunk was
in front of a judge.
The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking."
The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."
* A bum asked
a Jewish fellow, "Give me $10 till payday."
The Jewish fellow responded, "When's payday?"
The bum said, "I don't know! You're the one who's working!"
* Why do Jewish
divorces cost so much? They're worth it.
* Why do Jewish
men die before their wives? They want to.
* I wish my brother
would learn a trade, so I would know what kind of work he's out of.
This is a detective story so pay close attention!!!
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+ 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
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