Technology Investor 

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, February 2, 2006: Parts of telecom are inching back. While my son no longer has a landline in his apartment (sorry about that, Verizon), he spends a fortune on wireless voice and data (aren't you happy, Verizon?). I'm also spending a fortune on broadband Internet access -- cable modem in New York, DSL in my country "palace," wireless BlackBerry, etc. As a result of our family's off-the-chart telecom spending, companies like Broadcom (BRCM), JDS Uniphase (JDSU), Conexant Systems (CNX) and Bookham (BKHM) are doing better, much better -- earnings and stockwise. I'm suggesting that my new love for telecom is a supplier play, not a carrier play, i.e. buy telecom suppliers, not telecom carriers. Most carriers cannot get out of their own way and think innovation is M&A, not introducing new services.

Reader is annoyed: Reader Bruce Curley is annoyed with me because I overlooked Energy Conversion Devices (ENER). He rebuked me: "When I told you about it last year, it was at $14. It sold in the $50's a week ago. Its run-up is paying for my son's tuition at the University of Maryland in mechanical engineering." The company makes much of the alternative energy stuff you'd think would sell like crazy, given the high price of oil -- like thin-film solar cell (photovoltaic) products, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, hydrogen batteries for cars, etc.. Reading the web site, you get turned on with the company's technology. Reading the company's financials, you get less turned on. The company recently swung to a loss and analysts expect a loss for the quarter they're reporting on February 8. I wish I had been in the stock at $14. But at $49, I'm less interested. I'm also somewhat afraid that the company's chief inventor, Stanford R. Ovshinsky, is aged somewhere between 82 and death.

Change your incandescent bulbs today: "Which planet have been you living on?" OK. That's a reasonable response to my next recommendation: It's time to replace all your incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones. The economics are obvious: A 60 watt light output fluorescent uses only 14 watts of electricity and you get a seven year life out of a fluorescent, versus a two week life for an incandescent (in Manhattan). I bought some fluorescents yesterday at Home Depot -- we finally have two Home Depots in Manhattan -- and replaced a couple of bulbs this morning. My conclusions my on my new fluorescents:
+ The things come on immediately. No flickering delay like a normal fluorescent. I was surprised.
+ The things give off a warm light, not green.
+ A 60 watt fluorescent doesn't seem to be as bright as a 60 watt incandescent. But it depends what type of incandescent you're comparing it to. A "long-life" incandescent will burn much less brightly, but will last longer.
+ Once the fluorescent bulb is hidden behind a frosted glass cover, my wife will never know the difference. If she knew, she'd accuse me of turning her palace into Motel 6 to save a miserable scheckel.
By the way, you can't put fluorescent bulbs on dimmers.

Rich pickings in Australia for Nigerian scammers: I know none of my readers fall for the Nigerian scam. But lots of other people, sadly, do. This piece comes from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Police are staggered by the amount of money gullible Australians are losing to Nigerian investment scammers. The long-running internet-based rort has netted more than $7 million from Queenslanders alone, and the loss Australia-wide is likely to be far higher, police say.

Among those being duped are financial advisers, lawyers and university professors, and one person had put $2.2 million into the hands of scammers over the past two years. Inspector Brian Hay, from the Queensland Police Service Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, said yesterday he would anticipate the trend being replicated across the country.

"This is not geographically bound by state borders - this would be everywhere," Insp Hay said. Other states had not yet analysed how and why people were sending money to the west African country, Inspector Hay said. But 25 out of 26 Queensland victims contacted by police over the past two months had lost their funds.

Lured by the promise of a percentage of secret oil venture investments or government contracts with guaranteed high returns, scam victims were asked for money to bribe local officials and secure lucrative contracts.

"Of the 25 people we have spoken to so far, there is only one person that we would feel confident has been party to a legitimate transaction," Inspector Hay said.

"We were blown away. We didn't expect this." Inspector Hay said financial advisers, lawyers and university professors were among those who have sent large sums of money overseas, some of them several times.

"People start paying and paying and paying," he said.

One person had put $2.2 million into the hands of scammers over the last two years.

Police decided to urge the public to exercise extreme caution in replying to the emails after they yesterday stopped $250,000 leaving the country for Nigeria. But the Queensland victims were only "the tip of the iceberg", Inspector Hay said. The same scam was siphoning money to other west African countries and to fraudulent operations in western nations, including Britain and the United States.

Gullible and greedy US investors were losing an estimated $1 million a day to Nigerian scammers, he said. People should beware of emails promising quick riches for little effort. "It's the same old story ... if it looks too good to be true, it usually is."

Friendship between Women
A woman didn't come home one night.
The next day she told her husband that she had slept over at a girlfriend's house.
The man called his wife's 10 best friends. None of them knew anything about it.

Friendship between Men
A man didn't come home one night.
The next day he told his wife that he had slept over at a buddy's house.
The woman called her husband's 10 best friends.
Eight of them confirmed that he had slept over. Two claimed he was still there.

Funny: When I ran a spellchecker on today's column, JDSU came up as a mistake. The spellchecker suggested "Jesus."

Recent column highlights:
+ Munich, the movie. A must-see. Click here.
+ Identity Theft precautions. Click here.
+ 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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