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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, February 4, 2005: A nice reader emailed me, "The two things I've learned most from reading your column are start your own business and the game is rigged against the individual investor."

A young man visited me last night. He has been offered a 25% equity in his firm, which is currently all owned by one fellow... Does the deal make sense, he wanted to know? There are many choices, among them: Negotiate for more, say 50%. Take all the employees, move across the road and start a competitor.

Excluding family, the most important decision we all will ever make relates to how we structure our careers. Are we a wage slave? A part owner? The boss? Too many of us accept the wage slave role and consign ourselves to poverty in old age. I'd like my young man to start his own business since he'll never be rewarded sufficiently by a boss who's left town and is now commuting 500 miles every week to work because his wife doesn't like Boston. The story gets more complicated, more weird. I like ownership. I like partnerships. I like complementary skills. I like establishing it all up front. Once it's going, rearranging the deck chairs of ownership is messy.

To me, these life/career decisions should be crystal clear. If in doubt, my tendency is to run. Try something else. I hope the third thing you learn from this column is that once a door closes, a windows immediately opens. There's always a silver lining. Trust me. There's always a silver lining.

Sun Microsystems (SUNW) may be a decent crapshoot at $4.26:
1. The company is cash flow positive.
2. Scott McNealy has the talent and the guts to turn this around.
3. Technical genius Andy Bechtolsheim has rejoined the company and has a serious plan for neat new computers that may have a serious chance. See yesterday's Wall Street Journal, page B1, "In Silicon Valley, a Tech Legend Lays
Big Plans."

TriPath Imaging (TPTH) crashed yesterday: Then bounced back. I'm still positive on this stock. One day the company is going to be bought for a lot of money. This week's news, as reported by Dow Jones Newswires:
"TriPath Imaging Inc. (TPTH) withdrew its premarket approval application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for expanded claims for its SurePath liquid-based Pap test.
The developer of products to improve cancer screening also swung to a profit in the fourth-quarter as revenue jumped 20%, according to a press release Thursday. TriPath Imaging withdrew its submission to include an out-of-vial option for testing for the presence of high-risk HPV DNA with the Digene hc2 High-Risk HPV DNA Test. After discussions with the FDA, TriPath learned that additional clinical information and analyses would be required that hadn't been part of the original protocol accepted by the agency. The decision to withdraw is a procedural step and the company is in discussions with the FDA about the additional data or information requirements.The company intends to continue the discussions and evaluate the required additional data or information, with the goal of resubmission of the application at the earliest possible date. TriPath Imaging said fourth-quarter net income was $308,000, or 1 cent a share, as compared with a loss of $1.9 million, or 5 cents a share, a year ago."

Where did they check their ethics, or their brains? From the recent financial press:
+ BOSTON -- An independent consultant has found that improper share trading at Putnam Investments shortchanged investors by as much as $100 million, about 10 times the previous estimate.
+ JAPAN -- The Seibu Railway has admitted that it falsified its financial statements for nearly 50 years. (You read right -- 50 years.)
+ NEW YORK -- A former top accountant at WorldCom testified she was told to make improper accounting entries because the chief executive, Bernard J. Ebbers, did not want to lower Wall Street expectations by reporting the truth.
+ NEW YORK -- The board of Tyco International gave its finance chief, Mark H. Swartz, a $50 million severance payment weeks after learning about four bonuses that prosecutors say he stole from the company.

Flying JetBlue to Phoenix -- Part 1: The flight is fine, the employees pleasant. You need to book early -- way early. Not to get the cheapest fares. But to get the best seats. There are only three rows with decent legroom -- rows 1, 11 and 12. The rest are positively awful. If you can't book in any of these rows, take a crisp $50 bill and bribe someone to move. It's worth it.

Flying JetBlue to Phoenix -- Part 2: The nice lady next to me is reading Cosmopolitan Magazine. Two ads were of interest: The first offered reduction on breast enlargement from $3,999 to now only $2,999. Liposuction was reduced from $2,999 to only $1,999. Both required a small operating room fee. The second ad was for Clorox's Toilet Wand, a toilet brush with replaceable, disposable heads. The nice lady said that Lysol also made a similar, but better device. Lysol's used heads could be flushed down the toilet. Clorox's had to be disposed of in the garbage. There is no end to man's creativity, or what you can sell the American public.

In Phoenix today: I'm talking on Saturday morning before the Real Estate Investors Conference which Arizona Real Estate Investors Association in running at the Civic Plaza.

To learn more about the conference,
click here. Mention you're a reader of our new real estate investor magazine, Personal Real Estate Investor and you get in for free. For more on the magazine, click here.

The Kindness of Texans
In a crowded city at a busy bus stop, a beautiful young woman who was waiting for a bus was wearing a tight mini skirt. As the bus stopped and it was her turn to get on, she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the first step of the bus.
Slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus driver, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little, thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg.
Again, she tried to make the step only to discover she still couldn't. So, a little more embarrassed, she once again reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little more, and for the second time attempted the step, and, once again, much to her chagrin, she could not raise her leg.
With a little smile to the driver, she again reached behind to unzip a little more and again was unable to make the step.
About this time, a large Texan who was standing behind her picked her up easily by the waist and placed her gently on the step of the bus.
She went ballistic and turned to the would-be Samaritan and yelled, "How dare you touch my body! I don't even know who you are!"
The Texan smiled and drawled, "Well, ma'am, normally I would agree with you, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kinda figured we was friends."

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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