Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Thursday, March 17, 2005: Doing
well with oil. We got that one. The speculators are having a ball. But there is
a real shortage and there is an exploding demand for it -- short-term
I spent yesterday saying NO. It's really depressing when someone has a
lousy proposition and presents it badly. You don't sell a $19 million project
dressed in jeans. You don't sell a $19 million project without numbers, facts,
and photographs. You don't sell a $19 million project without heavy enthusiasm.
I ran my own numbers on the back of an envelope. The expenses were way under-priced,
and the projected income too optimistic. There weren't any bids to back up the
guesses. The assumptions on getting money out by selling the pieces were far too
optimistic. It wasn't even a question of being eaten alive by interest charges
if the project dragged -- and that was a major concern -- it was the zillions
of "small" concerns like the quirkiness of local regulatory authorities.
In checking deals out, you look up -- "What's the most I can make on this?'
-- and you look down -- "What's the worst that can happen?" And
then finally, you ask yourself, "Does this thing appeal intellectually
and emotionally? Is this something I really want to put the effort into?"
That's a key issue. There are no such animals as "passive" investments.
... Well there are, of course. There are ones you can't do anything about, except
develop agita and stress -- neither of which are passive. For now, cash is the
area most lacking in agita and stress.
I don't like the way the stockmarket is going. Three things are affecting it:
oil, interest rates and a slowing in the growth of corporate earnings.
The years 2003 and 2004 were good because companies had slashed expenses and sacked
their workers following the Tech Wreck Mini-Recession of 2001-2002. For
earnings to blossom strongly in 2005, we need strong earnings. The numbers,
so far, aren't there. This could be a down year in the market. Cash remains king.
I visited Best Buy last night: A Mag LT 982S
19" LCD monitor that I paid $650 a year or so ago, now costs $379.99. Practically
everything costs much less than it did six months ago. Several friends have recently
bought new computers from Dell. Under $500 for nice, fast Windows machines with
LCD monitors. Corporate sales can't look pretty if costs are plummeting so
Best Buy was selling nice refrigerators from Samsung and LG.
I can't imagine how they can eat the shipping from Korea and still make a profit.
But there they were. Full-featured refrigerators, replete with handsome layouts
and neat gimmicks. One LG refrigerator sported an LCD TV on its front door. My
friend, Bonnie Waite, commented to me "How many people stand in front
of their fridge and watch TV?" But there it was. And only $3149. Bonnie
had a point.
Irish eyes are smiling. Where's the best place to live in 2005? The
Economist Intelligence Unit says Ireland comfortably tops the league.
America, though the second-richest country (behind Luxembourg) in GDP per head,
slips to 13th in quality of life. Britain languishes in 29th place. The Economist
uses "life-satisfaction surveys." The Economist says as many as nine
indicators have a significant influence. The main factor is income, but other
things are also important: health, freedom, unemployment, family life, climate,
political stability and security, gender equality, and family and community
life. Ireland wins because it successfully combines the most desirable elements
of the new (the fourth-highest GDP per head in the world in 2005, low unemployment,
political liberties) with the preservation of certain cosy elements of the old,
such as stable family and community life. Offsetting its poor climate and, by
rich-country standards, gender inequality, are a higher political stability
and security. It seems appropriate to publish this piece on Ireland on Saint
Patricks Day. Hostess Snowballs will be green today. Buy some for the kids.
Bottom of the
lot is Zimbabwe, where things have gone from bad to worse under Robert Mugabe.
out of the running. Thank goodness: President George W. Bush said
Wednesday that he plans to nominate Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of
defense and one of the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq two years ago,
to become the next president of the World Bank. He is not nominating Carly Fiorina.
Our site www.StopCarly.com worked.
children wonderful? Part 1
A visiting minister prayed: "Dear Lord", he began, with
arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face, "Without
you we are but dust."
He would have
continued but he stopped and burst out in laughter when at that very moment
my daughter leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl
voice, "Mom, what is butt dust?"
children wonderful? Part 2
This is a heartwarming story about the bond formed between a little
girl and some construction workers. This makes you want to believe in the goodness
of people and that there is hope for the human race.
A young family
moved into a house next door to a vacant lot. One day a construction crew turned
up to start to build a house on the empty lot. The young family's 5-year-old
daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and
started talking with the workers.
She hung around
and eventually the construction crew, all of them gems-in-the-rough,more or
less adopted her as a kind of project mascot.
They chatted with
her and let her sit with them while they had coffee and lunch breaks, and gave
her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.
At the end of
the first week they even presented her with a pay envelope containing a dollar.
The little girl took this home to her mother who said the appropriate words
of admiration and suggested that they take the dollar pay she had received to
the bank the next day to start a savings account.
When they got
to the bank the teller was equally impressed with the story and asked the little
girl how she had come by her very own pay check at such a young age. The little
girl proudly replied, "I worked all last week with a crew building a house."
My goodness gracious
said the teller and will you be working on the house again this week, too?
The little girl
replied, "I will if those useless cocksuckers at Home Depot ever bring
us the f...... drywall."
Sorry about that.
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. That money
will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense,
here and here.