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

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9:00 AM EST, Thursday, April 23, 2009. How's this for a wild ride in the last few days?

Three stocks doing ultra-well. Amazon , Apple, Goldman Sachs. I suspect that all three will continue on their tear. But they're now risky, since they're so high.

Housing prices will drop lower. Should I wait? It's a common question.

Answer: Every location is different. In some places prices have fallen 90%; in some only 15%. No one knows how much more they'll fall, if at all. My approach is fivefold:

1. Is the location right? You want to live there?

2. Can you manage it? Never underestimate the time.

3. Are the economics right? Are the tenants stable? Will the rents cover the mortgage, the expenses and then some? Do not assume any increase in value in your calculations. Could you take a 30% drop in rent and still survive?

4. Bid low. Be prepared to walk.

5. Don't even think of borrowing more than 60% of the value -- called LTV -- loan to value.

Encourage competitions. Many of us are involved with our local schools, colleges, and universities. Get them to start contests -- for business plans, for engineering ideas, etc. My son's business plan is now one of four finalists at Harvard. I loved the enthusiasm at last week's NYU contest, where I played judge. And yesterday I received this email from reader Milind Trilokekar:

Gd Day Mr. Newton,

Read with great interest and showed your suggestions for a winning business plan to my daughter. I hope she has the opportunity to have her Business Plan judged by you in 2013!

I was away this weekend in Washington attending the Young Epidemiologist Scholars (YES) Competition and it was amazing to see the talent that this country has. Each student researcher had to present their paper and answer questions from 6-9 judges, who were in my opinion among the top strata in their field. Reminded me of your judging the NYU Stern students, except in the medical field. Following your same line, I would encourage all high schools to have a "Science Research" club and get the kids involved in science research. YES is akin to Intel Science Search, WESEF, ISEF and similar competitions, except dedicated to Epidemiology and mainly funded by the College Board and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Salesmanship. Finally one great salesman appears. He answers emails quickly. He's got the technical stuff down pat. He's the only one to actually send me a copy of a book he's printed. And it's relevant to what I want to print. All the rest are asking dumb questions like "Do we still have time to bid?" "Did you receive our quote? How do we stand up?" And my favorite, "Here's my phone number. Please call me." (I kid you not.)

They don't teach salesmanship in school, college or business school, but they bloody well ought to. My God, a little intelligence, a little responsiveness and lots of enthusiasm go a long way. Please tell the book printers of the world that it's not only price that gets the job.

Want to be thoroughly depressed? Here's what Porter Stansberry, respected investment newsletter guru, ended a piece yesterday with:

Whether you think we ought to have free health care and drugs for retirees, more military spending than the rest of the world combined, a bankrupt retirement scheme based on government debt, government guarantees for the banks, etc. doesn't matter to me. I'm not interested in pie-in-the-sky ideas about how the world should work. I write about how the world does work. And I can tell you this with 100% accuracy: You cannot support the world's reserve currency when you are the world's largest debtor, when you plan to finance annual deficits exceeding $2 trillion with progressive income taxes and money printing. Our economy is a charade. And when it falls apart, the consequences will be devastating.

Porter's been successfully shorting stocks for months. Last night he writes:

Capital One announced an $86.9 million quarterly loss last night. Its charge-off rate for U.S. cards increased to 8.4%. The company expects its charge-off rate to "cross 10% in the next couple of months" and only sees things getting worse through the rest of the year. In my December 2008 issue, I wrote a 10% charge-off rate throughout Capital One's entire book would nearly wipe out the company's equity, and the stock would fall to zero by the end of this year. We're getting closer.

From Richard Russell of the Dow Theory Letters, last night:

One of the major problems of today is that the banks will not mark their toxic assets to market. If they did, it's probable that a great many banks would be insolvent. In other words, many banks are really the "walking dead." Nobody knows which banks are solvent. The banks are not lending because they need all the money they can accumulate to stave off possible balance-sheet bankruptcy. The bank problem won't be solved and the banks won't lend until they're willing to be honest and mark to market. Those banks that survive, will lend.

Interestingly Treasury Secretary Geithner announced today that the "vast majority of US banks have more capital than needed." Really, then if that's true, why the hell aren't the banks lending?

So what to do? Months ago I sent money to Australia figuring its abundant natural resources would protect it. I sent the money when the Australian dollar was around 96 cents. Within weeks it had dropped to 63 cents. It's now back to 71 cents. So, I'm not totally stupid.

Viacom crashes the party. Viacom has removed South Park's Margaritaville full episodes from the Internet. Copyright infringements, they claim. Bah , humbug. I downloaded my own copy. Its 90 megs. So hard to email. If someone finds a place where it's still available, please email me. This is an episode not to be missed.

Marriage saver revisited. No more kwetching over volume. His and her headphones. My strong recommendation -- the Sennheiser headphones. We have them attached to every TV set we own. I am deaf. Susan can hear a fly walk up a window pane 100 feet away.

There are two ways to buy -- the headphones and the transmitter. Click here. And just the headphones. Click here. One transmitter will send a signal to as many headphones as you own. Do not pay any attention to what Amazon writes when you click to buy. They call the transmitter a "charging cradle," which it's not. works for your family abroad. You live here. They live there. They want goodies from Gap, Amazon, Banana Republic ... but many American mail order places won't ship overseas. Solution: They accept your packages, bundle them into one (if that's what you want) and then ship them DHL most anywhere in the world. Their prices are remarkably good -- though never underestimate the cost of international shipping.

Pest Control
A woman was having a passionate affair with an inspector from a pest-control company. One afternoon they were carrying on in the bedroom together when her husband arrived home unexpectedly.

"Quick," said the woman to the lover, "into the closet!" and she pushed him in the closet, stark naked.

The husband, however, became suspicious and after a search of the bedroom discovered the man in the closet.

"Who are you?" he asked him.

"I'm an inspector from Bugs-B-Gone," said the exterminator.

"What are you doing in there?" the husband asked.

"I'm investigating a complaint about an infestation of moths," the man replied.

"And where are your clothes?" asked the husband.

The man looked down at himself and said, "Those pesky little bastards!"

Great Jewish Sex.......
The Italian said to his two friends, "Well, last night my wife and I had sex. I rubbed her body all over with olive oil. We made love, and she screamed for over 10 minutes."

The Frenchman boasted, "Last night when my wife and I had sex. I rubbed her body all over with butter. We then made passionate love and she screamed for 20 minutes."

A Jewish man boasted, "Last night, my wife and I had great sex. I rubbed her body all over with schmaltz (chicken fat), we made passionate love, and she screamed for six hours."

The other two were stunned. The amazed Frenchman asked, "What could you have possibly done to make your wife scream for six hours?"

The Jew said, "I wiped my hands on the bedspread."

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, click here and here.