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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Friday, February 18, 2005: It was a truly wonderful day. Todd and I bicycled two hours through thousands of Gates in Central Park. The wind blew. The saffron fabric made wonderful shapes. The sun shone through it and it glowed. The park, usually quiet at this time of year, is teaming with thousands of tourists from all over the world. I've never seen so many cameras in one place, or heard so many foreign languages. It was a gigantic party. It's New York at its finest. Please visit. Today, the sun is shining and we have azure blue skies.

There's 7500 gates. They're all through the Park.

This is the view from the top end of the park, in Harlem.

This is the view from my apartment. For more on The Gates exhibit, click here. Make sure you watch the Multimedia feature.

Today's thoughts on finding that perfect investment: The perfect investment remains your own business. You work at it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You succeed. The business eventually throws off rewards, also called money. Then what? What level of minutiae do you want? What time do you have? Clearly little. And, the time constraint doesn't change much after you've sold the business and "retired." I thought that with more time, I'd be better at this. But "retirement" has its own time demands, chiefly from the family. So, tipping my hat to my friend, Dan Good, who figured this out long before I did, it all comes down to finding trusted experts to guide you. Increasingly that has been my quest -- find trusted advisors, find trusted managers.

I feel especially elated this morning. I found another great one yesterday. I won't identify them, yet. I need their permission. But I can give you a thumbnail of what they do. They call themselves value contrarians. They find good companies who've stumbled and are out of favor, i.e. Wall Street has given up recommending them. There's often bad press on a small part of their business. My manager looks for temporary, fixable stumbles. He checks the balance sheet and cash flow. Are they strong? Will it pull the company through? He looks for an "inflection point," a fancy way of buying the stock somewhere near the bottom of the fall. He often watches stocks for six to nine months, waiting for the assurance of a slight turnaround. Then he buys buy and holds. His typical holding period is 3 1/2 years. The portfolio has 40 stocks, enough for one person to monitor. Average turnover is only 25% a year. But the rewards are spectacular. He's beaten all the indexes by a wide margin for 13 years with only one stumble. He was up only 14.5% in 1997. The S&P was 33.4% up that year.

There are two keys to their success: patience and discipline. The patience to make sure the problem is fixable. The discipline to buy out of favor stocks and the discipline not to buy today's "Hot Stock du Jour."

P.S. Don't Google "value contrarian," thinking you can figure it all out and delve into Harry's secrecy. Google comes up with the wrong name.

Surprise. Surprise: New Hampshire regulators accused American Express Co.'s financial-advisory unit of defrauding customers by giving its sales force secret incentives to sell poorly performing in-house mutual funds, rather than investments from competitors. American Express Financial Advisors awarded bigger bonuses for selling the proprietary funds, investigators said. E-mails collected by the state show supervisors praising advisers who sold American Express funds and chiding those who didn't. In one sales contest, American Express offered advisers free one-year leases on Mercedes-Benzes as prizes for promoting a new in-house fund. The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation said in an administrative complaint that the American Express unit violated state and federal securities laws requiring advisers to act in clients' best interests and to disclose conflicts of interest that could taint their recommendations. All this from today's Journal.

Neat gadget:
I love multiple screens. Here's a neat way of joining four together.

The web site says the gadget (excluding the screens) costs $580. But their latest catalog, which I received yesterday in the mail, says it costs $326.99. Click here.

Pissed off with Hotmail: My wife hates her hotmail account, which she got for traveling. She can never get into it. The good news is that Google is apparently opening up its from Gmail. I had signed up for their email newsletter about their service and this morning they emailed me, saying I could open an account. I can't give you my account, but trying going here. Click here. Gmail comes with 1,000 megabytes of free storage, Google search technology to find any message you want instantly, and a new way of organizing email that saves you time and helps you make sense of all the information in your inbox. Here are just some of the things which Google told me in their email that they had added in the last few months:
- Free POP access: Take your messages with you. Download them, read them off-line, access them using Outlook, your Blackberry or any other device that supports POP
- Gmail Notifier: Get new mail notifications and see the messages and their senders without having to open a browser
- Better contacts management: Import your contacts from Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, Outlook, and others to Gmail in just a few clicks. Add phone numbers, notes and more. Even use search to keep better track of it all.

Useless statistic: In the U.S., deaf people have a better driving records than do their hearing counterparts. Could it be the lack of a cell phone grafted to the ear?

Don Mclean "Vincent" Starry Starry Night": Someone has put made grafted Don Mclean's singing Starry Starry Night to Vincent van Gogh paintings. And the effect is stunning. Truly wonderful. The song apparently is called Vincent and was written about van Gogh.

Click on the image, say you want to use Powerpoint to play it. Wait a second for the song or Click here.

A Blonde with a Cell Phone
A young man wanted to get his beautiful blonde wife, Laura, something nice for their first wedding anniversary. So he decided to buy her a cell phone.
He showed her the phone and explained to her all of its features.
Laura was excited to receive the gift and simply adored her new phone.
The next day Laura went shopping. Her phone rang and, to her astonishment, it was her husband on the other end. "Hi Laura," he said, "how do you like your new phone?"
Laura replied, "I just love it! It's so small and your voice is clear as a bell, but there's one thing I don't understand though..."!
"What's that, sweetie?" asked her husband.
"How did you know I was in Saks?

The Joy of Being in Hospital
A woman called a local hospital. "Hello. Could you connect me to the person who gives information about patients. I'd like to find out if a patient is getting better, doing as expected, or getting worse."
The voice on the other end said, "What is the patient's name and room number?"
"Sarah Finkel, room 302."
"I'll connect you with the nursing station."
"3-A Nursing Station. How can I help You?"
"I'd like to know the condition of Sarah Finkel in room 302."
"Just a moment. Let me look at her records. Mrs. Finkel is doing very well. In fact, she's had two full meals, her blood pressure is fine, she is to be taken off the heart monitor in a couple of hours and, if she continues this improvement, Dr. Cohen is going to send her home Tuesday at noon."
The woman said, "What a relief! Oh, that's fantastic... that's wonderful news!"
The nurse said, "From your enthusiasm, I take it you are a close family member or a very close friend!"
"Neither! I'm Sarah Finkel in 302! Nobody here tells me shit."

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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