Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
9:00 AM EST, Friday, March 20, 2009. Several
readers have made a few shekels from the recent stockmarket bounce. One bought
Citigroup at $1. It's now $2.64. He asked my advice. I answered, "no
one went broke taking a profit." But then I hadn't been smart enough
to see Citigroup as a gigantic bargain at $1. So, my advice isn't worth didly.
March 9, we have had, what the analysts call "a tradeable rally."
bear markets have them. Will this rally continue? Personally I don't think
so. Our country's doom and gloom prophet, Professor Nouriel Roubini, also
doesn't think so. He writes in his Global EconoMonitor
this is a dead cat bounce and a bear market suckers rally. At some point
in the future the capitulation of investors trying to sell their equities
at the peak of the latest bear market rally will make the next round of the
bear market bust faster and more pronounced. Read: Reflections
on the latest dead cat bounce or bear market suckers rally
"The bursting of the housing bubble and of the equity bubble and hedge
funds bubble and private equity bubble showed that most of the "wealth"
that supported the massive leverage and overspending of agents in the economy
was a fake bubble-driven wealth; now that these bubbles have burst it is clear
that the emperor had no clothes and that we are the naked emperor. A rising
bubble tide was hiding the fact that most Americans and their banks were swimming
But then, you
could easily argue differently -- namely the 50% drop in equities has brought
prices to "bargain levels." Personally I think the sidelines, in
cash, is just a super place to be.
The good news is that with tumbling real estates prices, I am seeing handsome
cap rates as high as 12% on New York City apartment/commercial buildings.
A cap rate is the industry's way of saying this building will earn 12% on
its purchase price after all expenses are paid -- assuming you buy it for
all cash. During the recent boom cap rates dropped under 5%, often to negative
levels. Buyers assumed their return would come from the rise in the value
of the building. We now know that that didn't happen. And cap rates are coming
back to reflect the new reality. Since all real estate is local, it's now
worth contacting several local brokers and saying to them, "Send me ideas.
I have a little cash."
Debt. How unlimited interest rates destroyed the economy." That's
the title of the cover story in this month's Harper's Magazine. The article
is engrossing. I wanted to excerpt it for you. But I can't. It's too good.
Suffice, read it.
And after that, read the next article "Usury
country: Welcome to the birthplace of payday lending." In this
piece, you'll learn "The average income of a full-time worker for WalMart,
today's the nation's largest private employer, is only slightly more than
$17,000 a year. Fully 47% of Americans now report living paycheck to paycheck.
...Today there are over 22,000 payday lending stores serving 10 million households
each year -- a $40 billion industry with more U.S. locations than McDonald's.
insanity in Afghanistan. I found this on
the Wall Street Journal's web site this morning.
I visited Afghanistan many, many years ago. I was young and naive and thought
poverty was "colorful," especially for photos for my Nikon camera
and my Kodachrome film. Forty years later, the country is still poor and the
Wall Street Journal is now charmed by Afghani poverty pictures. Here's the
I have no idea what we're doing there, since even Osama bin Laden (remember
him?) has abandoned the place.
may buy Sun Microsystems for $8 billion.
When the Internet was in its hey days in the late 1990s, Sun was valued at
$205 billion. That means Sun's value has fallen by 96%. At one stage
virtually all the big servers on the Internet were Sun machines running Sun
software. But Sun stayed too pricey, ignored the PC revolution and big users
like Google switched to cheap PCs running free Linux software. When I was
in the networking publishing business, I dealt a little with Sun. I was never
impressed. They were arrogantly dismissive of PCs. I always thought they'd
go the way of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), another computer maker that ignored
PCs. Now they have.
The lesson here
is simple: Don't stick with tech hardware companies for too long. Kodak, Xerox,
Microsoft, Cisco, Sony, etc. have all seen better days.
revived West Side Story. The New York Times
loves the revival. Read the
review. Take your kids. Explain to them what New York was like
way back then. Take them to where the movie was filmed -- where the present
Lincoln Center is now.
Tear up for
the love story. Cry when the inevitable happens. This show combines the best
of the best, including Jerome Robbins' fabulous choreography. I figure I've
seen West Side Story at least 15 times. There are many places to buy tickets.
They all rip you off. Here's one -- Broadway.com.
Wells tennis continues. I apologize for Fox
Sports Network. They're doing a perfectly miserable job. But it's all we got.
This weekend are the semi-finals and the finals of both men's and women's.
Wells Tennis TV Schedule -- EST times
PM - 7 PM
10:30 PM - 12:30 AM
(Fox Sports Network)
PM - 8 PM
PM -5 PM
stories from the South. - Story 1:
From the parish in Louisiana where drunk driving is considered
a sport comes this true story. Recently a routine police patrol parked outside
a bar in Houma , Louisiana. After last call, the officer noticed a man leaving
the bar so intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around
the parking lot for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing.
He sat there
for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.
Finally, he started the car, switched the wipers on and off-it was a fine
summer night, flicked the blinkers on and off a couple of times, honked the
horn, and then switched on the lights.
He moved the
vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still for
a few more minutes as some more of the other patron's vehicles left. At last,
when his was the only car in the parking lot, he pulled out and drove slowly
down the road.
The police officer,
having waited patiently all this time, now started up his patrol car, put
on the flashing lights, pulled the man over, and administered a breathalyzer
test. To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated no evidence that the man
had consumed any alcohol at all. Dumbfounded, the officer said, "I'll
have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyzer equipment
must be broken."
it," said the truly proud Coonass. `Tonight I'm the designated decoy.'
stories from the South. - Story 2:
A group of country friends from the Cottonwood Baptist Church got
together on a regular basis to socialize, and play games. The lady of the
house was to prepare the meal. When it came time for Al and Janet to be the
hosts, Janet wanted to outdo all the others. Janet decided to have mushroom-smothered
steak, but, mushrooms are expensive.
He said, 'Why
don't you go down in the pasture and pick some of those mushrooms? There are
plenty in the creek bed.' She said, 'No, some wild mushrooms are poison.'
He said, 'Well, I see varmints eating them and they're OK.'
So, Janet decided to give it a try. She picked a bunch, washed,sliced, and
diced them for her smothered steak.
Then she went
out on the back porch and gave Ole' Spot's (the yard dog) a double hand full.
Ole ' Spot ate every bite. All morning long, Janet watched Ole' Spot and the
wild mushrooms didn't seem to affect him, so she decided to use them. The
meal was a great success. Everyone commented on how delicious the mushrooms
had finished, they relaxed, socialized, and played Phase 10 and Mexican train
dominoes. About then, the helper lady from town, came in and whispered in
Janet's ear, 'Mrs. Williams, Ole' Spot just died' Janet went into hysterics.
After she finally calmed down, she called the doctor and told him what had
The doctor said,That's
bad, but I think we can take care of it. I will call for an ambulance and
I will be there as quick as possible. We'll give everyone enemas and we will
pump out everyone's stomach. Everything will be fine. Just keep them calm.'
Soon they could
hear the siren as the ambulance was coming down the road.. The EMTs and the
doctor had their suitcases, syringes, and a stomach pump. One by one, they
took each person into the bathroom, gave them an enema, and pumped out their
stomach. After the last one was finished, the doctor came out and said, 'I
think everything will be fine now. Then he left.
They were all
looking pretty weak sitting around the living room,and about this time, the
helper lady came in and said, 'You know, that fellow that ran over Ole' Spot
never even stopped.
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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