Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

Previous Columns
8:30 AM Thursday, July 28, 2005: Earnings are staying up. Nice feeling. Hana Biosciences (HNAB) is moving up. I don't know why. Biotechs remain volatile. My advice with biotechs: Pray for a pop. Sell some. Stay in with the bank's money.

How to use Excel: I asked my son, Michael, how do I figure the rate of return on an investment involving strange timing? Let's say that I put $250,000 into a hedge fund on September 1 and again on December 1 last year. At the end of June, 2005 that investment was now worth $550,988. Here are the steps:
1. Open Excel. Go to Tools/Add-Ins. Check off Analysis ToolPak and Solver Add-In. Install them. You may need to have your original Microsoft Office in your CD drive.
2. Enter the numbers as shown. Your contributions to the fund go in as negatives. Your ending result is positive. Enter the dates.
3. In line B8, enter the formula =XIRR(A3:A5,B3:B5,0.1)
4. If it gives an error, you haven't installed the two Add-Ins or your cell needs refreshing.
My son is a genius. I have to write this, or he won't teach more Excel.

The economics of having your money managed. Typically..
1. Hedge fund. 1-2% a year of value plus 20% of the upside.
2. Mutual fund: 5% up front plus 1.5% of value annually.
3. Money manager: No up front and 1.5% of value annually.
Fees aren't the sole criterion, nor are they related to performance. But it's neat to see how they vary based on how the manager describes himself.

How do you analyze a manager?
I'm looking at a new manager. Criteria:
1. Historical returns compared with S&P 500, Russell 2000, etc.
2. Volatility. What were the worst years and the worst quarters? How did they compare with the S&P 500, etc.?
3. How will the blend of all managers work out? Go backwards.
4. How are stocks are chosen? Does this method complement other managers I have?

Bad business: Osama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americas, according to The New York Post. Bin Laden hoped that large numbers of Americans dying of poisoned coke would lead to widespread terror here. The plot failed when the Columbian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business. They were also afraid of retaliation from the U.S. government once U.S. citizens started to die from the drugs.

Condo conversions are the latest real estate play: Take an old manufacturing or office building, invest some money, convert it into residential condos. It's been an enormously profitable business for some of my friends. Condo conversions are hot, but nowhere are they hotter than on south Florida's east coast. Over the past 19 months alone, developers have converted 31,000 south Florida apartments into condos. And that pales next to the flood of new units that should hit the market in the near term. McCabe Research and Consulting projects that an additional 48,000 new condo units will be delivered to south Florida over the next two years. "This is out of control. We're seeing accountants and electricians become condo speculators, and a lot of people will get burned when this market cools off," warns Jack McCabe, CEO at Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based McCabe Research & Consulting.

Personally I wouldn't do condo conversions in south Florida.... but other parts of the country.... Why not?

The most comfortable, lightweight saddle: It's called a Flow Ti, weighs 255 grams (9 ounces), has titanium, looks like the popular Aeron desk chair and costs only $119. Click here.

How the British deal with terrorism: This notice was posted in a London subway station.

Moshe Reads an Arab Newspaper
A story is told of a Jewish man who was riding on the subway reading an Arab newspaper. A friend of his noticed this.

"Moshe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arab newspaper?"

Moshe replied, "I used to read the Jewish newspaper, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty. So I switched to the Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!"

The Proper Etiquette
A member of the fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance.

Hoping to find water, he walked toward the object, only to find a little old Jewish man sitting at a card table with neckties laid out on it.

The Taliban said, "My thirst is killing me. Please, do you have water?"

The Jew replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $150. This one goes very nicely with your robes."

"The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need your overpriced tie. I need water!"

"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie. I will show you that you have not offended me. If you walk over that hill to the east for about four miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. Go! Walk that way! The restaurant has all the water you need!"

The Taliban staggered away toward the hill and disappeared.

Eight hours later the Taliban comes crawling back to the Jewish man's table.

The Jew said, "I told you, the restaurant with the water is about four miles over that hill. Could you not find it?"

"I found it," rasped the Taliban. "But your brother wouldn't let me in without a tie."

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.
Go back.