Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
AM EST, Monday, May 11, 2009. Accounting
is about as close to fantasy as you can get. I actually have an accounting
degree. So I say this deliberately.
there was a rule companies should report the value of their assets as to what
they could sell them for on the open market. They changed this rule because
the price of their assets had fallen. Now management is free to pull numbers
out of its tushy and show whatever numbers it wants to -- a result of discarding
FASB's mark-to-market rule. This morning, banking giant HSBC Holdings
said its first-quarter underlying profit was substantially ahead of a year
earlier due to $6.6 billion of one-off gains.
happened because the price of its own debt on the market had fallen. It hadn't
actually sold anything. It hadn't bought anything. It just took the price
fall as a "profit" and then announced the price of its debt rebounded
in April, meaning much of the "benefit" will be reversed in the
How can you
trust anything the banks tell you?
I don't make
this stuff up.
to sell your house. He's selling for $1.8 million. They offered
$1.4 million. A neat trick: Offer to split the difference.
you believe? Computers flat out lie. I spend $150 a month on eSignal's
QCharts service. It's a poor man's Bloomberg. Correct that. It's a poverty
stricken man's Bloomberg. One of QCharts' "features" is real-time
portfolio tracking. I entered three holdings into QCharts. Notice the wrong
calculations on the cost:
I called QCharts
tech support. They said, "We never imagined anyone would own such a large
number of shares."
shares is a large number of shares?"
works to five hundred shares." Which it does:
your computers can't multiply?" I asked.
complicated than that," they answered.
I guess it is.
motto: CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.
ticks revisited: First,
they're very dangerous. Second, you want to remove them instantly. Third,
if you don't get them out quickly (like they're in for a few days), take the
tick to your doctor. Have it tested for Lyme Disease. Fourth, don't believe
old wives tales about removing them with soap. After I mentioned my wife's
tick on Friday, I was inundated by kindly readers sending me a "school
nurse's memo" about removing ticks with soap. Wrong! The only way to
get a tick out is with tweezers or that special tick removal tool that looks
like a bottle opener. Grab the tick as far down as you can and pull it out.
More on Snopes.
Your comment about ticks spurred me to drop you a line. As a wetland scientist,
my job brought me into close proximity to all sorts of natural hazards,
insects among them. Sometimes Id get several dozen bites over the
course of a day or two of fieldwork and the itching is annoying, setting
aside the risk of West Nile virus and other risks.
ago I discovered the Buzz Off line of clothing from Ex Officio,
which has insect repellent (and an SPF 30 rating) built into the fabric.
I find the chemical repellents, well, repellent so this has been a good
option for me. The first time I wore my new shirt, I got over 20 mosquito
bites through my jeans but nary a nibble on my upper half, including my
face and hands which werent covered. We dont have a big problem
with ticks where I live, but the tags indicated that the repellent worked
cheap garments but they are a lot cheaper than West Nile virus or Lyme disease.
Mine still looked new after several years of using it for field work.
Officio "Insect Shield" garments.
Islam-style. Some Somali pirates are thinking of giving up their
trade. Says Abshir Boyah, a towering, notorious Somali pirate boss who admits
to hijacking more than 25 ships and to being a member of a secretive pirate
council called The Corporation, says hes ready to cut a
Islamic guys want to cut my hands off, he grumbled over a plate of camel
meat and spaghetti. The sheiks seemed to have rattled him more than the armada
of foreign warships patrolling offshore. Maybe its time for a
change, he said.
stories in gorgeous photographs.
The Internet's best photographs are at Boston.com's "The Big Picture."
Elke, a five-day-old
Francois Langur, makes her media debut at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital
in Sydney, Australia on March 24, 2009. Taronga's keepers have decided to
hand-raise the monkey after she was rejected by her mother. (REUTERS/Daniel
Munoz). For more photos. Boston.com.
be careful lifting. My friend is just out
of the hospital with a hernia operation. He tried to lift his daughter's heavy
on the new economy:
attracted people to Madoff? Madoff reported annual returns of 8.5
percent to 11.7 percent during the past five years, according to Swiss banker,
heart warming elephant story: In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday
in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University ...
On a hike through
the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised
in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.
He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece
of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter
worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put
down its foot.
The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its
face, stared at him for several tense moments.
frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled.
elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son.
As they approached
the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near
where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared
at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.
did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the
the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same
up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure.
He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.
trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him
against the railing, killing him instantly.
the same elephant.
This is for
everyone who sends me these heart-warming bullshit stories .
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 on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some
look 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
Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense,
here and here.