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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Friday, February 11, 2005: There are three messages from the HP fiasco:

1. When the original founders leave, sell the stock. Can you imagine anyone replacing Warren Buffett or Bill Gates? Clearly no one could replace Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, when they retired. Now Carly has messed HP up, the press (and Wall Street) is wondering if anyone can save HP?

And the answer is it won't be easy, or pretty. And probably not possible. I don't think they're a great printer maker either. My HP printers and scanners work -- but they're far too complicated to install.

2. Most mergers don't work. Especially BIG mergers. When your company is bought, thank the lord and sell your stock. When your company announces it's going to buy someone, i.e. make a big merger, it's time to sell their stock. AT&T won't merge well with SBC. And Gillette won't merge well with Procter & Gamble. Of course, there are people who benefit from mergers -- the selling stockholders (you and I, if we're lucky), the management who arranged the merger, and the investment bankers. But the poor stockholders of the acquiring company? Forget them. They're so low on the totem pole as to be forgotten. And they are forgotten and screwed.

3. Most of business success is luck. After luck comes staying the course and taking care of the customers, one by one. Dell is now the biggest PC company in the world -- not because it's so good. It's not. But all its competitors -- especially IBM, HP, Compaq, Gateway and Apple -- messed up big time. Microsoft is the biggest software company in the world not because its software is any good. In fact, it's awful. Item: It's taken them ten years to get Windows to be semi-reliable. Microsoft is BIG because its competitors shot themselves in the foot, again and again and again. I remember when Novell owned networking. They had the only networking operating system on the planet. Ditto for Sun and Solaris/Unix. They all acted arrogant and superior....I am a Microsoft groupie, because I still talk to them and they still listen. Not so for HP and Apple, Adobe, Macromedia, etc. etc.

My old promises: I promised I'd write about my friends who retired from a successful career on Wall Street to discover for themselves quaint profitable products they don't peddle on Wall Street -- like real estate syndications, lending on California trust deeds or biotech startups. That was several weeks ago. Funny thing happened. Their particular specialties turned out to be so profitable and so safe (compared to Wall Street's hyper-speculative stocks), their friends asked "Can we get in?" And now they're all working more than full-time starting or joining mini-investment banks.

An explanation from one of them this week:
"My father was a cop and my mother worked in a factory. Neither enjoyed their jobs. So they looked forward to their retirement. They taught their children (that's me) to look forward to not working. I retired at 50 from Wall Street. But in reality I miss the mental stimulation. I can't play golf five days a week. I can't travel seven days a week. I need a mental challenge. With my new 'job,' I get to drive my Ferrari every morning along the coast of Southern California. I work as long as I want. I come and go when I want. And I can take as much vacation as I want."
And if he believes all that, a flock of pigs will fly over San Diego in formation.

No one else will talk to me about their personal situation. They're all working too hard. This morning, my real estate syndicator and I are on a 7:15 AM train to Albany to check out a handsome residential property which a new firm is syndicating and my friend is investing in and letting his friends in on the deal. That's why I'm writing this column the night before and that's why I'm not getting any sleep, like my other "retired" friends..

More airline travel and hotel tips: Most people know the Internet is the place for their travel needs. Most people make many visits to many sites before they find what they want. The problem is you won't find JetBlue fares on Orbitz, etc. The latest solution is something called a "metasearch" engine. These sites search all the sites on the web that you would check. They do your work for you, allegedly. Sort of like a fund of funds. Anyho, the sites you want are,, and I can't vouch for any of them, since I haven't used any. But I did check that they actually do exist. One other favorite site is, which gives you information layouts of all the airline's planes and helps you find the best seats you can. Make sure you run your mouse over the plan of the cabin, since SeatGuru sometimes gives useful information in a "mouseover."

My son is an idiot. But I'm a genius. Remember Whole Foods (WFMI) which I've been raving about? The thing jumped $6.18 yesterday to $96.53. I guess they reported great earnings. Meantime my biotech favorites are inching up --Cypress Bioscience (CYPB), Hana Biosciences (HNAB), Manhattan Pharma (MHTT), Novadel Pharma (NVD), Point Therapeutics (POTP) and TriPath Imaging (TPTH). As you know I've been lightening up on equities. These biotechs are for my children. I'll get around to checking out Fred Hickey's put option suggestion list this weekend. I wrote about them earlier this week.

Meantime, these cartoons are meant to amuse. I think they're funny. runs wonderful contests for artists using Adobe's Photoshop -- a piece of software that's so good at manipulating photos you'll never believe a published photo ever again. Neat image?

The following is not a real product. But I studied it long enough to figure that it might actually be useful.

It's time to get a real life and get away from this stupid computer. Cross your fingers for today's due diligence. It's mighty cold up in Albany.

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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