Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Wednesday, October 5, 2005: My
friend Dan Good advised me manage the managers, don't pick individual stocks.
Concentrate on what you do best -- your professional life. Good advice. Except
the hardest part is finding great managers. There are very few good ones. I
have four with one "manager of managers." These are his four best
-- chosen after acres of research. Three have my portfolio under water for 2005!
Even my Vanguard funds are doing well -- Vanguard International Value Fund
(VTRIX) and the Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund (VIMAX). My one hedge
fund is doing much better -- despite the higher fees. This manager
has heavy positions in energy. His four biggest holdings at end August were
Harvest Energy Trust, Penn West Energy Trust, Fording Canadian Coal Trust
and Paramount Energy Trust. My best investments this year are in real
estate -- buying it and lending on it. Lending on first and second trust deeds
to real estate developers in California and Arizona is reliably producing 13%
and 17% annual returns. Fortunately my developers have factored in a
likely drop in home prices. My best investment, bar none, remains Whole Foods
-- a stock I picked myself.
on energy and commodities. Keep the suggestions coming.
most valuable asset your business owns: It's
not the factories, the patents nor even the people. It's your customers. I'm
obsessed about customers, especially happy ones. Maybe I'm weird. But I actually
like receiving emails and catalogs from companies whose products I use
and like. I like buying their new stuff. Why don't more of my favorite companies
web sites: This is for readers who influence their company's web
site. My simple points:
1. Most buyers now "shop" the web, not the stores.
2. Most web sites woefully lack useful information -- like simple technical
information on how big the thing is, etc.
3. Most web sites lack decent size photos.
4. Most "customer service" people are clueless and often dispense
totally wrong information.
5. The worst offenders are makers of expensive products, who believe tiny type,
tiny photos and oodles of white space is classy.
6. Most companies give their web designers far too much leeway. Web designers
are artists, not businesspeople. They don't understand people with money (you
and I) can't see the tiny type they use on their web site.
the worst thing: Most products don't have brand or company names printed on
them. So, buying another one is impossible. All this started because we're trying
to buy faucets for a new house that are the same as the ones in our apartment.
We can't even find out who made the great faucets in our apartment.
Living in New York? FreshDirect.com
is a super way to order your food on the Internet. We use FreshDirect all the
time. Much easier than shopping. Makes a nice complement to Whole Foods.
Sadly, FreshDirect is not public. Click
Laptop running awry: My main laptop needed
several reboots to get it going. Reader Gerald D'Avolio had the same problem.
He said it was caused by his hard drive starting to spin askew. Gerald said
a friend who repaired his PC told him that, over time, a computer's hard drive,
like an old LP record, got ever so slightly warped.
I cloned my troublesome hard drive onto a new hard drive. Bingo, no more problems
booting. Thank you Gerald.
Good news: new 2 1/2 inch 60 gig 5,400 RPM hard drives cost around $115 -- a
small price to pay for the peace of mind. Don't buy the ones made by Hitachi
and don't buy the 7,200 RPM drives. They're too unreliable. Click
the other side "thinks." The Australian Financial Review
recently interviewed Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakar Bashir
in his Jakarta prison cell in which he justified suicide bombings, saying that
"the best way to die is as a shaheed [martyr]".
Bashir, who is
completing a 30 month sentence for conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, said:
"In battle . . . in places like London and in America . . . it is best
to cause as many casualties as possible". He said: "Everywhere, infidels
conspire to ruin Islam. There is no infidel who wouldn't destroy Islam if they
were given even a small chance."
"must be visited and spied upon. If we don't come to them, they will persecute
Islam". It was impossible for them to stop fighting Islam because that
was their destiny. There was no example "of Islam and infidels, the right
and the wrong, living together in peace".
Bashir said: "Islam
must win and Westerners will be destroyed. But we don't have to make them enemies
if they allow Islam to continue to grow so that in the end they will probably
agree to be under Islam. If they refuse to be under Islam, it will be chaos.
The question facing
suicide bombers was: "If I do this, will Islam benefit or lose?" To
die in jihad, Bashir said, was noble. And a "martyrdom action" was
even more important than the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Bashir said: "A
martyr must have ikhlas [sincerity]. The parent who understands this concept
must be thankful to Allah. This is the spirit of jihad that most scares the
infidels. This is a moral force." He cited Charles de Gaulle's emphasis
of the weight of moral force in combat.
He said he admired
Osama bin Laden and wanted to meet the man he described as "Allah's soldier".
But he said he did not agree with bin Laden's concept of total war against infidels.
"If this occurs in an Islamic country, the fitnah [discord] will be felt
by Muslims. But to attack them in their country is fine. Muslims who don't hate
the old Church
The elderly priest, speaking to the younger priest, said, "It
was a Good idea to replace the first four rows of pews with plush bucket theater
seats. It worked like a charm. The front of the church always fills first now."
The young priest
nodded, and the old priest continued, "And you told me a little more beat
to the music would bring young people back to the church, so I supported you
when you brought in that rock 'n roll gospel choir. We are packed to the balcony!!"
Father," answered the young priest. "I am pleased that you are open
to the new ideas of youth."
said the elderly priest, "I'm afraid you've gone too far with the drive-thru
protested the young priest, "my confessions and the donations have nearly
doubled since I began that!"
son, but that flashing neon sign, 'Toot 'n Tell or Go To Hell',
just can't stay on the church roof!"
+ 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.
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