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

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8:30 AM Wednesday, August 3, 2005: Off today to check on an office building in White Plains that's being syndicated. My commercial real estate is performing as expected. Most investments are paying their forecast dividends -- typically around 9%. A couple of properties are on hold as they spruce up for a sale. Rents are rising, albeit slowly. Building prices continue to rise ahead of rents, thus making office buildings more expensive and yielding less. Increasingly this area of investing is betting that the price of office buildings will continue to rise strongly. My syndicators are avoiding the pricey cities like New York and Washington and looking at less pricey cities, like ST Louis and White Plains.

Of late, the hot "perfect" investment has been Nasdaq stocks, including TriPath Imaging (which reports tomorrow) and Whole Foods which continues to rise -- perhaps because, once again, I ate every meal from there yesterday.

Microsoft caught fire yesterday. Lots of rumors, but nothing of substance. The company is simply too large to be a big growth company. They've become far too slow and far too bureaucratic. Last year its earnings grew 7% last year. This year they may grow at 11%. Their dividend yield is 1.24%. They're likely to raise the dividend, but not to a point where the stock becomes attractive on the payout. Personally I wouldn't touch the thing with a ten foot barge pole.

How to mismanage your country: King Fahd died this week after 23 years as absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia. During his semi-horrible rule...
+ Unemployment for those under 30 reached 25%.
+ Per capita income is less than $7,000, having peaked in 1981 at the equivalent of $25,000.
+ Despite sitting on the world's largest pool of oil, the kingdom has run a budget deficit for 21 of the last 22 years.
+ More than 20% of the annual budget goes to the military, while the share spent on education and health steadily has declined.
+ Corruption is endemic. Fahd refused to touch it.
+ Billions of state money went to rebuild the great mosques of Mecca and Medina. Fahd regarded the work as the most important achievement of his life.
+ Vast amounts of Saudi money were sent to establish mosques to preach wahhabism, a particularly restrictive and puritanical form of Islam.
+ Islam is the state religion and all citizens must be Muslims.
+ Public and private practice of any non-Muslim religion is restricted. Non-Muslims can be arrested, lashed, or deported for any religious activity that attracts the attention of the government.
+ The wearing of non-Muslim religious symbols remains restricted.
+ The printing, possession, importing, or distribution of any non-Muslim religious material remains banned.
+ Holders of an Israeli passport or passports with Israeli stamps in them cannot gain admission to the Kingdom.
+ 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11 were Saudis.
+ The demands for money and more money of the ever-expanding royal family are monumental.

Fahd was the oldest of the seven sons of the favorite wife of Saudi Arabia's founder, Ibn Saud, who had 22 wives. By contrast, Fahd, who just died, had only five wives, six sons and four daughters.

How good is Cramer? Alan Saracevic of the San Francisco Chronicle concludes:

As he says at the top of each show: "Other people want to make friends.... I just want to make money."

So, is he giving people good advice? Like any stock picker, it's a mixed bag. Let's take a look at some of his recent stock-of-the-week picks, provided by viewers of "Mad Money" on the unaffiliated Money Talk personal finance Web site (

-- On April 11, he picked Apple. At the time, it was trading at $43. On Friday, it closed at $42.65.

-- On April 18, he chose Pfizer. On that day, it was at $27.75. It closed Friday at $26.50.

-- On April 28, it was Google. Then: $220. Friday's close: $287.76.

-- On May 2, he picked Constellation Brands Inc. At the time, it was trading at $27. It closed at $27.40 on Friday.

-- On May 9, it was the PNC Financial Services Group. Back then it was at $54.50. On Friday, it closed at $54.82.

So, there you have it. Nothing great, other than Google, which my 4-year- old could have picked. But no train wrecks, either.

Saracevic believes (as I do) Cramer's is good entertainment. He concludes : say watch the show. For every time he slams a Dell keyboard on the desk to prove the worth of the company's products. For every time you swear he's going to stroke out. But not for advice on your college savings plan."

Cramer was pumping Canadian tar sands oil stocks last night. I asked a friend who follows them. His reply early this morning, "Very long reserve lives, very capital intensive. If oil stays high, they will be great stocks. A few of of stocks have some oil sands exposure, and I had been looking at a 130 page report on the sector, when the takeover knocked prices out of whack yesterday, all up 10% or more. Where was Cramer BEFORE they all jumped yesterday? The guy is nothing but a mo-mo player, pumping whatever is hot. They’re still running promos of his show, where he shouts “commodities are dead” from a few months ago, in reality commodity stocks are hitting new highs."

This is very sick:
Two Middle Eastern mothers are sitting in the café chatting over a pint of goat's milk. The older of the moms pulls out her bag and starts flipping through pictures and reminiscing. . .

"This is my oldest son, Mohammed. He would be 24 now."

The other mom replies, "I remember him as a baby."

Mom says, "He's a martyr now."

"Oh, so sad, my dear."

Mom flips to another picture. "And this is my second son, Kali. He would be 21."

"Oh I remember him. He had such curly hair when he was born."

Mom sighs, "He's a martyr, too."

"Oh gracious me" says the second mother.

"And this is my third son. My beautiful Ahmed. He would be 18," Mom whispers.

"Yes" says her friend enthusiastically, "I remember when he first started school."

"He's a martyr also" Mom says, with tears in her eyes.

After a pause and a deep sigh, the second Muslim mother looks wistfully at the photos and says:

"They blow up so fast, don't they?"

Recent column highlights:
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell your stocks. Click here.

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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