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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 Friday, December 23, 2005: What a wonderful country. Gerry's Copper Mountain, Colorado house has doubled in value in the past few years. This means his skiing is free for the rest of his life. And his families' skiing. And mine, too.

As his Christmas present, I bought him a cable modem. Cost: $95 plus an incredibly cheap $19.95 a month for the service. It took me three minutes to install it. And another three to hook up the $95 Linksys wireless router I'd brought from Radio Shack. Now Gerry's entire house is wirelessly on the Internet. It's lightning fast. I'm sitting in bed checking out Wall Street news and writing this column.

Copper Mountain village is 9,700 feet -- nearly two miles -- above Manhattan. This means this morning I have a splitting headache. I'm assured by the locals I'll feel better when I ski down the world's best mountain.

This past summer Copper Mountain spent $66 million to improve its infrastructure -- bigger and faster chairlifts. That's much more per capita than Manhattan spent. I bet Copper would fix the mountain-size pothole outside my apartment faster than New York City does.

Copper employees recruit their workforce from Australian colleges. Copper's winter season corresponds perfectly to the three months summer vacations Australian college kids get. Hence, invoking an Australian accent -- I give lessons -- will secure you the local "Australian discount" -- in my case 25% off my ski rental and 20% off a helmet and a pair of pants. Finally, my awful, low-class Australian accent has bankable value.

They're forecasting more fresh powder snow from the sky today. Michael, my son, has announced firmly than he and his creaking, 40-year older father (i.e. me) will be on the first chairlift up the mountain this morning and the last chairlift up the mountain this afternoon. This may give father-son bonding a whole new meaning. But, will my body survive?

"Investment Things I learned in 2005." Yesterday I published my preliminary list. In case you missed it, here's it again. Please send me your list.

1. Family is number one. They provide far more joy than any humble GM short will ever.
2. My own health is number two. I hate exercise. But I love tennis and bicycling, which I don't consider "exercise." Everyone has to find their own physical pleasure.
3. Capital preservation is the most important investment goal. It takes many 10% a year gains to get back the money you completely lost. My mantra now is "When in doubt, stay out." Sadly, you'll also forgo great gains. Don't flagellate yourself with "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda." I'm the master of brilliant investment decisions I almost made. I'm learning to stop rebuking myself for my dumbness. It's hard. The evidence is so strong.
4. Control is key. I've made a thousand times more money with investments I've had some control over than deals I hand them my money and pray. Sadly, when you've made your money with the business you just sold, you have to find something to do with your gains. Start with sticking all the money in muni bonds and treasuries. Avoid the temptation to play angel. Absent the temptation, you wouldn't be reading this column. I'd be on the beach. Not me. Dumb.
5. Constant learning is next. My first love was technology. My new love is investing. I thought I could learn this stuff quickly. Wrong. I'm seven years into it full-time. I figure I have another 30 to go. By then, I'll be truly dangerous.
6. Nothing is predictable. Well, not true. You can see that Whole Foods is making it and GM isn't. But gold at $800 or $400? When in doubt, stay out. Be diversified. That way you bet on everything. Well, not everything. But things that make sense to you.
7. Some investments take a long time. At one point my private equity/leveraged buyout fund was down 50%. Now it's up 22%. But that took four years. In those years, I rode a rough emotional rollercoaster.
8. Due diligence is necessary, but not foolproof. The best researcher is you. Don't rely on anyone else. Check out whatever anyone tells you before you commit your money. Their ten years of happy experience is no guarantee that your ten years will be happy.
9. Nobody listens. Nobody. I've tried with the New York Times, TiVo. Toshiba, etc. But, once every blue moon I find somebody.... Remember they have your money. They can and do with it what they will. And it most likely won't agree with what you believe.

10. Rebooting works for everything. Turn it off. Wait for 30 seconds. Then turn it on again. Bingo, it will work.

Christmas presents for the kids: My dear friend, Dan writes,

As Christmas presents, I bought two 60 gig Video iPods for the two oldest grandkids (ages 6 and 8) and loaded “The March of the Penguins” on them along with all six Harry Potter audio books (a few TV kids TV shows and songs as well). Can’t wait to see their reactions on Christmas morning.

After I die, I want to come back as one of Dan's grandkids.

2005 -- The M&A Year:
Friday, December 23. North Pole and Jerusalem:
Christmas and Hanukkah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years, among the longer M&A negotiations, according to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley who handled the negotiations.

While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hanukkah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Chrismukah, as the new holiday is being called.

Massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit.

As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to an even wider audience.

Instead of translating to "A great miracle happened there," the message on the dreydl will be the more generic "Miraculous stuff happens." Jews will now be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.

One of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa after having eating meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher.

A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say if a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works. He pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance and avoid any regulatory and anti-trust problems. He closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy Vey, All Ye Faithful."

Be nice to the family. See you next Tuesday.

Recent column highlights:
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click here.
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click here.
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click here.
+ 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 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. 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.
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