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 Tuesday, July 26, 2005: Four sectors of the economy are booming:

+ Housing. Stocks are below this year's high. Yet the housing boom continues. Every one the housing stocks I mentioned in my June 29 are now above what they were then, and going higher. Every single one. Click here.
+ Oil.
Oil prices are staying high. There are more earnings rises coming. S&P equity research analyst, Tina Vital, says, "My favorite 5-STAR (strong buy) recommendations include ConocoPhillips (COP). It's currently trading at $60, and my target price is $72. Dividend yield is 2.1%. The next one is ExxonMobil (XOM). It's currently trading at $59, and the target price is $73. Dividend yield is 2%. ... On the other side of the pond, we like and have a strong buy recommendation on Total (TOT). It's trading around $126, and our target is $135. The dividend yield is 2.4%. This international oil company is focused outside of North America but offers strong upstream production growth and solid reserve replacement at below-average cost, and its refineries are also able to process lower-quality crude oils on a world-class scale." I (Harry Newton) don't know much about oil stocks. I do know that oil will stay high in price. For BusinessWeek's full interview with Ms. Vital, click here.
+ Biotech and small pharma. Consolidations. Takeovers. Drugs off patent. Huge demand. It will never stop. See below for links.
+ Online searching and shopping. sells me Quaker Oatmeal Squares for $3.99 a box. Our local supermarket sells them at $5.79. eBay sold me new headphones and a new hard drive. Why would I ever shop in a bricks and mortar store -- except my beloved Whole Foods (WFMI)?

How to sell your house: A friend asked, "How should I sell my house?" First key: Stage it. Second key. Manage the process. Third key: Understand that real estate agents want a quick sale, not a high sale. That means their interests are different to yours. You want a high sale. You need to manage them, not believe them.

It may be time to carry cash: Identify theft is pervasive. Today, The New York Times reports on how thieves sit outside retail stories with unprotected WiFi (wireless) networks and steal all the credit cards being used and in the store's database. The thieves use the same laptops you and I use at home. It's easy work.

Terrorism will hit the U.S. again shortly. That seems to be the consensus view. Israeli Juval Aviv has written two books: Staying Safe : The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business and The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety. Some of his advice:

+ Since mass transportation is the next attack, take a bottle of water, a small towel and a flashlight. What happened in London is exactly a point to look at. Those people who were close to the bombs died, then others were injured or died from inhaling the toxic fumes or getting trampled. The reason you take a bottle of water and a towel is that if you wet the towel and put it over your face, you can protect yourself against the fumes and get yourself out of there.

+ Don't be bashful. If your gut feeling tells you when you walk onto a bus there is something unusual or suspicious, get out and walk away. You may do it 10 times for no reason, but there will be one time that saves your life. Let your sixth sense direct you. Be wary of someone paying an usual amount of attention to a prominent landmark; someone nervous or jumpy or trying to access off-limit areas; someone trying to hide something.

+ Keep an eye out for unattended items when using mass transit or in airports.

+ Try to break your routine. If you travel during rush hour every day, try to get up a little earlier and drive to work or take the train when it's still not full. Terrorists are not going to waste a bomb on a half-empty train.

+ Don't rely solely on the government to provide you with crisis or threat information -- do your own research, too. (Our Department of Homeland Security has done a miserable job of providing us any information, e.g. what the difference between the color codes is.)

+ Have a plan on where/when to meet family members in case of attack; map assorted evacuation routes from home/work.

+ Keep extra copies of your passport/birth certificate/social security card, other records. Keep copies in storage or with relatives, friends. Carry copy of your passport when traveling overseas.

+ Never order room service in foreign hotels. Workers may poison the food or spit in food meant for Americans.

+ Never check luggage at curbside check-in at airports; carry luggage on board with you. Carry as few bags as possible.

+ Spend as little time at the airport as possible. Avoid heavily glassed areas.

+ When traveling abroad, don't advertise your corporate affiliation or title on luggage or other items. Stay in an American chain hotel; security is usually tighter.

+ When in a foreign country, don't advertise you're American by speaking loudly, holding up maps, exchanging currency at airports, showing American flags, etc…

+ Avoid crowded areas. Avoid public transportation and major tunnels and bridges during heavy commuting times.

+ Never stay in a hotel with an underground parking garage and never park in such a garage -- terrorists love car bombs.

+ Store a decent amount of cash someplace in case ATMs malfunction. Carry only essential money cards and identification.

The front pages. Many of us spend a lot of time reading newspapers on line. What's neat is that you can now see a PDF of the front page of today's Wall Street Journal, click here and today's New York Times, click here. These days it makes little sense to buy the newsprint version.

Never, ever buy a Mercedes-Benz -- Part 2.
My wife disputed my recommendation about never buying a Mercedes. She likes her 2004 E500 wagon. It goes fast and holds the road nicely. Of course, it has had three batteries, one recall and several returns for a botched recall, three new tires, a busted air conditioner and sundry other broken and repaired things. Today I go fight with Mercedes about the broken air conditioner And it's only 90 degrees. The car has done just 20,000 miles.

Finally, The world's best lawyer joke:
The United Way realized that it had never received a donation from the city's most successful lawyer.
So a United Way volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office.
The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, "Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don't give a penny to charity. Wouldn't you like to give something back to your community through the United Way?"
The lawyer thinks for a minute and says, "First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?"
Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbles, "Uh... no, I didn't know that."
Secondly," says the lawyer, "my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children."
The stricken United Way rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again.
"Thirdly, did your research also show you that my sister's husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children one of whom is disabled and another has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?"

The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, says, "I'm sorry, I had no idea"
And the lawyer says, "So... if I didn't give any money to them, what makes you think I'd ever give any to you?"

Recent column highlights:
+ 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 your 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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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