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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 Thursday, December 29, 2005: Last day of skiing. If I keep doing this enough I may even come to enjoy it. Tennis is more appealing. You get to pit your brain and skills against someone. With skiing, the game is to look pretty coming down the hill. It's a little self-indulgent for my increasingly puritan tastes. Moreover, I'm not big on frozen fingers and aching joints.

I looked at a real estate investment last night. I noticed some new criteria:

1. Due diligence on the
developers will take me time and cost me money (credit and legal checks, etc.) One project for a small investment wouldn't be worth it. What are their long-term plans?
2. What are the projected cash returns. It's nice to look at a 30%+ IRR. But seeing the first cash returns in four to five years is not appealing. That's a long time to monitor the project, guess the results and stay stuck in -- with no control.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. at&t is the SBC Communications plus the last remnants of the old AT&T. When I first came into telecom in 1969, AT&T was the world's largest phone company, with over a million employees. Through a bunch of monumentally stupid decisions, the venerable "widows and orphans" stock got smaller and smaller and less profitable and less profitable. By the time SBC finally put the thing out of its misery, AT&T had dropped to under 50,000 sorry employees and profits had evaporated. Now SBC is about to spend a large fortune advertising its new name, at&t (note the lower case). This smells like the beginnings of a Cockroach stock and a great short. Soon to join my wonderful GM.

My favorite digital camera -- the Canon SD450. It's performing great. You can easily ski with it. New tips:
1. Digital cameras don't handle contrasty scenes. You have to figure what you care about by aiming the camera at that area, pushing the button down a little, holding it, then framing the picture the way you want it.
2. All digital photos look better when underexposed -- i.e. darker. I cut the default on the SD450 to minus 2/3rds of a stop. Pictures look better.
3. Never transfer photos from the camera to your PC with the cable and the manufacturer's stupid software. Take the memory card out of the camera and slide it into one of those $20 USB memory readers or $10 adapters that slide into one of your laptop's PCMCIA slot. Much faster and easier.

Everything is on sale: Or at least seems to be based on emails from all my favorite clothing suppliers, LL Bean, Eddie Bauers, Lands End and Sierra Trading Post. The sad part is I don't need any new clothing and, even if I did, I'd have nowhere to put it. My wife is on a "throw it out" binge.

Beware of emails from eBay and PayPal:
The emails warn you of something horrible and then ask you to click and confirm your financial information. Don't even think about it. Delete the emails without reading them. They're phishing (spelled correctly) for your credit cards so they can steal from you.

The business of skiing.
It costs $80 to $900 a day to pay someone to schlepp you up a mountain. For $900 you can go in a heated helicopter. For $80 you get to go on a windblown chairlift. Then you have to stay somewhere. No self-respecting person would stay in a hotel. Better your own second, third or fourth home.

"Homes" usually cost several million. When you get to $10 million, they're no longer called "homes," they're called "starter castles." (I don't make this stuff up.) Above $15 million you get into the realm of real castles. May I suggest 480 Strawberry Park Road in Beaver Creek, a gated community replete with its own private ski area and ski lifts. The 10421 square feet, nine bedroom 480 Strawberry Park Road is available for a puny $17,500,000, not including the furniture!

It's an all stone building. The courtyard driveway is fully heated.

The view is "to die for."

The bathtub has been carved out of a single piece of granite. The window treatments will stay.

You don't get the furniture. But several large fireplaces do work.

This is how the agent describes the place:

Magnifique! "Parc de Fraise" is a French Chateau imagined from the French Alps made credible in a ski-in, ski-out location in Beaver Creek's Strawberry Park. Most of the nine bedrooms plus nursery, nine full bathrooms, 3 powder rooms, two offices, a large family room with bar, a teen room, an exercise area, lower deck with outdoor hot tub, and an expansive upper deck offer spectacular views of Beaver Creek Village and of the ski slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain. Light and sunshine enhance the character of the living room and dining area which are framed by dramatic bay windows. As dusk approaches and there is a chill in the air, two facing fireplaces with carved limestone mantels add a new, striking focus to this beautiful chateau. Parc de Fraise has timeless appeal. It is truly a noble home.

And don't forget the helicopter:

This is the view from your very own Bell 407 helicopter. Pity you need the instrument panel. It does cut the view.

Wonderful old Borscht Belt lines: Note, not one curse word.

* There was a beautiful young woman knocking on my hotel room door all night! I finally had to let her out.

* A car hit an elderly Jewish man. The paramedic says, "Are you comfortable?" The man says, "I make a good living."

* Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won't be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.

* I was just in London - there is a 6-hour time difference. I'm still confused. When I go to dinner, I feel sexy. When I go to bed, I feel hungry.

* The doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so the doctor gave him another six months.

* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back."
Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"

* Doctor: "You'll live to be 60!"
Patient: "I AM 60!"
Doctor: "See! What did I tell you?"

* A doctor has a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, "Doc, how do I stand?"
The doctor says, "That's what puzzles me!"

* A drunk was in front of a judge.
The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking."
The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."

* A bum asked a Jewish fellow, "Give me $10 till payday."
The Jewish fellow responded, "When's payday?"
The bum said, "I don't know! You're the one who's working!"

* Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They're worth it.

* Why do Jewish men die before their wives? They want to.

* I wish my brother would learn a trade, so I would know what kind of work he's out of.
This is a detective story so pay close attention!!!

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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