Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

Previous Columns
8:30 AM EST Thursday, April 20, 2006: Jack Brimberg, 80, runs a boutique brokerage company. Four days a week he hosts a luncheon for 10 chosen people at the Rockefeller Center's ultra-spectacular Rainbow Room. Price of admission is a short talk on what you're investing in and why. First, my conclusions from yesterday's lunch:

+ There's an array of opportunities out there that boggle the mind. With effort and research, everyone can find their own profitable "Perfect Investment" niche.
+ The world is now everyone's oyster. I heard more international stuff yesterday than I've ever heard. (Hint: stay away from Russia. The political risks of a meltdown are too high. But Brazil is coming back nicely.)
+ Specialization is the key. Learn everything about an opportunity. Then place your bets. If you don't know everything, follow Todd's Rule: "When in doubt, stay out."

Now to what I heard:
+ Rising gold prices reflect a flight to real currency, away from fake paper currency like the dollar. It's not hard to be bearish on the dollar.
+ Commodities will continue to boom, some more than others. One enterprising fellow loved copper and zinc. His fund is up 60% so far this year. Stocks he liked included copper company Gruppo Mexico, zinc miner Parelya in Australia, Quadra Mining in Nevada and
HudBay, Canadian copper and zinc miner. Another fellow liked Southern Copper, which has copper mines in Peru.
+ Brazilian bonds are recovering nicely. Brazilian TAM Airlines is exploding.
+ Our China expert believes China will boom, without a hiccup, for at least another ten years. He says investments opportunities are now moving to the smaller and medium size cities -- especially in highway construction and power plants, which China needs in inexhaustible amounts. Item: A friend had a car dealership in China. Five years ago, it did $500 million in sales. Last year it did $3.5 billion. There's also an inexhaustible demand for cars.
+ China needs help on services. It has lots of four and five star hotels. But service stinks. Someone needs to train all those service people.
+ You can't outsource nursing homes. Your grandfather does not want to live in Bangalore. There's still money in that business.

People sometimes say things to impress. Winnings are remembered. Losses are forgotten. One fellow said he traded gold. Presently, he was long -- get this -- 200 metric tonnes. He expected another 10% to 15% rise in the price of gold in the next six months. He expected to have sold his gold stash within six months. I don't make this stuff up.

Intel, a broken business model. I was about to warn everyone of Intel... but they did it themselves. Last night they reported a 38% drop in profits and predicted weak chip demand this quarter. I didn't read their release. I didn't have to. I just bought a new laptop, a Toshiba Tecra M5 -- my first one powered by the allegedly super-powerful, super-fast Intel dual core processor. Well, based on several days of intensive use, I'm unhappy to report I can't find one bit of improvement. The machine is just as fast as my one year-old machine, Toshiba's previous model, the Tecra M3. If Intel can no longer make microprocessors that work faster, its whole business model is effectively kaput.

Please don't email me and tell me we're waiting on new software that will run on the dual core processor. I know that. But I was assured by Toshiba (amongst others) that I would notice some improvement immediately, especially running multiple software. As I write this column, I typically have five or six pieces of software open and running simultaneously. If anything, Intel's new dual-core processor is slower than the old single core chip. Believe Intel when it says weaker chip demand. It means weaker demand for its miserable new chips.

There's an important lesson here: It's nice to have backup systems. But if you don't test them regularly, you're an idiot. Here's the story. The Roosevelt Island aerial tramway crapped out yesterday when the diesel generator that powers the system failed after a power surge. The backup generator wouldn't start.

Passengers in one car were saved by the red rescue box which has its own small motor and can crawl along the cable. Passengers in the other car, which was over land, were rescued by a gigantic crane. By 4:30 a.m. — nearly 12 hours after the trams first stalled — all the passengers were safe and off the two trams.

I catch the tram regularly on the way to tennis. I can relate to 12 hours of utter boredom waiting for my rescue. In short, test your backups

The Roosevelt Island Tram, my erstwhile favorite way of getting to tennis. Fortunately that day I caught the subway.

I really like this magazine:

Best Life is packed with advice, helpful hints, neat products and well-written articles. A year is $19.97. A veritable bargain.

Setting up a web site without the expense. From reader Peter Shaw:

My wife Margie launched for far less than the $50K your friend has budgeted. The e-commerce engine is by BV Software. There is a community of designers and engineers surrounding the software. I also know the founder of Very robust functionality for a few thousand bucks. Margie has a long history in marketing, and was a web pioneer at Hotwired, so she came into the project with a firm background. Definitely needed at this point in E-Commerce. She also consults if your friend is so inclined. Keep up the enjoyable blog, and don't forget your Mother's day shopping. Check out PeakUniques.

For some reason this appeals:
An 80-year old man goes to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor is amazed at what good shape the guy is in and asks, "How do you stay in such great physical condition?"

"I'm a golfer," says the old guy, "and that's why I'm in such good shape. I'm up well before daylight and out golfing up and down the fairways."

"Well," says the doctor, "I'm sure that helps, but there's got to be more to it. How old was your dad when he died?"

"Who said my dad's dead?"

The doctor is amazed. "You mean you're 80 years old and your dad's still alive. How old is he?"

"He's 100 years old," says the old golfer. "In fact he golfed with me this morning, and that's why he's still alive . . he's a golfer too."

"Well," the doctor says, "that's great, but I'm sure there's more to it than that.

How about your dad's dad? How old was he when he died?"

"Who said my grandpa's dead?"

Stunned, the doctor asks, "You mean you're 80 years old and your grandfather is still living! Incredible, how old is he?"

"He's 118 years old," says the old golfer.

The doctor is getting frustrated at this point, "So, I guess he went golfing with you this morning too?"

"No. Grandpa couldn't go this morning because he's getting married today."

At this point the doctor is close to losing it "Getting married! Why would a 118 year-old guy want to get married?"

"Who said he wanted to?"

Harry Newton

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. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
Go back.