Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Wednesday, June 22, 2005: Yesterday
was the longest day of the year. It was warm. It was calm. It was peaceful.
It felt things were slowing down.
Leading Indicators Fell in May; Decline
Exceeded Expectations: That was the headline
on an AP (Associated Press) story yesterday:
A closely watched
gauge of future business activity fell more than expected in May, indicating
slower economic growth may lie ahead this year, a private research group said
yesterday. The group, the Conference Board in New York, reported that its
composite index of leading indicators fell 0.5 percent last month, to 114.1.
The decline was more than the 0.2 percent drop that analysts had expected.
The May decline follows a revised unchanged level in April and a 0.6 percent
decline in March.
the board's labor economist, said in a statement that the indicators suggested
"slower growth setting in during the third quarter." But he added
that this is "not just a domestic phenomenon." He noted that the
Conference Board monitors the leading economic indexes in eight countries
and that six of them have showed declines or slower growth.
senior economist at the Wachovia Corporation in Charlotte, N.C., said that
he was not worried about the decline, adding, "This is a sign of a slower
economy, but not anything more serious than that."
Board reported yesterday that only one of the 10 components of the leading
index, stock prices, increased in May. The other components that dragged down
the index included building permits, vendors' performances, the index of consumer
expectations, manufacturers' new orders for nonmilitary capital goods, consumer
goods and materials and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance.
Search of the perfect portfolio management software: Every so often
I fantasize that there's a better way of keeping track of my investments than
Excel. Yesterday Muriel, my wonderful assistant, was in and we tried Quicken
and Money. Our conclusion: both programs are great for paying bills and tracking
expenses -- but good for little else. Neither program can handle a simple investment
-- like a piece of a real estate syndicate on which you receive dividends. It
would be great if you entered the dividends and somehow they made their way
to a place which gave you a history of that investment. You could see a rate
of return and you could compare it to other investments. But alas, it's not
to be. If you reference a dividend to a particular non-stock asset, one program
actually deducted the dividend from the original book value of the investment
-- as though you were paying off the mortgage on a house.
got me looking for software was yesterday's publication of my portfolio allocation
(which my friend Dan Good refers to as "Harry's Accidental Allocation").
Here's yesterday's allocation.
Muriel and I also
wanted software to track and check my various brokerage accounts. The online
accounts contain endless entries -- mostly for dividends, which may or may not
be there and/or accurate. And there is occasional weird stuff -- like I have
no idea where this one came from (I found it this morning):
INTEREST CHARGED FOR 17 DAY(S)
FROM 5/23 THRU 6/20 @ 6.125%
CLOSING BALANCE 0
AVERAGE BALANCE 497,623
There are three
lessons from Muriel and my research:
1. You need to check every entry in your brokerage accounts. Some are
bogus. I suspect this $1,439.31 is.
2. You need to figure an Excel spreadsheet with expected dividends and then
plot actual received dividends.
3. Muriel and I are stuck with the many Excel spreadsheets we create. What we
really need is combination Excel spreadsheet / Access database software. In
short, we need decent portfolio tracking software, yet. Anyone got anything
How the press tests software
and hardware: Testing stuff is fun. The problem
is that it's hellishly time-consuming. By the time you're through, you're on
deadline. There's not enough time to test something else. You're forced to say
something nice about the shiny new thing.
Evernote: The Wall Street Journal waxed
lyrically on this note-taking program. Evernote holds photos and notes in an
endless file. You can find anything instantly. Its best feature is you can clip
web pages to it -- and the layout stays the same. That means you can research
something on the web and drop all your findings into one file. Sadly, the feature
doesn't work well. With complex web sites, like the home pages of the Wall Street
Journal and the New York Times, you end up with a hodgepodge mess of bits and
pieces of web site, which are virtually impossible to read with Evernote. I've
had several emails with Evernote management. They are in denial about their
the price of assets can plummet:
Gruner & Jahr is a division of the German media giant Bertelsmann. It will
sell its two American business magazines, Inc. and Fast Company,
for about $35 million, 94% less than it paid for them five years
best father's day present: Reader
Edwin van Beuzekom writes,
Ed loved his son's
I received a card from my son, it says, Dear Dad From one of your most successful
do-it-yourself projects ever!!!
to Sammy Kingsley for being valedictorian of Langley High School,
Virginia (suburban Washington, D.C.). She graduated 4.14. More importantly,
she hits a mean tennis ball.
Sammy Kingsley and the mean tennis ball. Dig those muscles.
not meant to talk to anyone on the New York City subway.
Nor are you meant to listen.
+ Yesterday a young Chinese couple were listening to their own iPods. I asked
the man if he ever talked to his girlfriend. He removed his earpiece and answered,
I then asked his girlfriend if her friend every spoke to her? She removed her
earpiece and answered, "No."
+ A while back, a couple were arguing in the subway. The car went quiet, as
all ears strained to hear the cause. Finally, the car was treated to him saying,
in a very loud voice, "Be reasonable Mary, I made the date with Elizabeth
two months before you and I were married."
Impeccable male logic.
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,
here and here.