Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

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8:30 AM EST Friday, March 21, 2008: Good Friday: Exchanges are closed. I dumped my silver and gold yesterday. The "hurt" is spreading through the economy. Follow old advice: When in doubt, stay out.

Auction Rate Securities (Update) from yesterday:

+ I hear one in five of Silicon Valley's technology companies is stuck with ARPs. Palm, which is losing money, has $74.7 million of them and is talking about "reclassifying" them on its balance sheet. Palm is completing "an impairment analysis" and expects to record an impairment charge that will be made available in Palm’s upcoming quarterly report. I listened to the conference call. There was only one question on ARPs. I learned nothing. And the analysts on the call didn't seem to be interested in the $74.7 million. Palm said it could survive without the $74.7 million. You can hear a replay of the call on 888.286.8010 (domestic) and 617.801.6888 (international), passcode 88825488. I wouldn't bother.

+ Boy, are these conference calls stacked! Calamos had a touchy-feely conference call to talk about redeeming its ARPs. It took two "questions" from Wachovia people, both of which included effusive compliments for Calamos management. I'm guessing those Wachovia people were brokers who's made money selling the Calamos ARPs. While Calamos management was touchy feely, they did include two positive statements:

"The (holders of) auction rate preferreds will not lose any of their money."

"If all the (possible) financing solutions fail, we'll deleverage."

Other statements included:

"We're working diligently to find new financing options. We'll report to you soon."

" These are trying times. We're doing everything possible to refinance the (ARPs) debt."

"We'll have a solution in the near future." We don't know when the near future is.

"It's important to communicate."

"Our ARPs holders are getting paid to wait."

"Refinancing is the best option. Very strange market. Strangest I've seen. Cost of leverage should not be onerous."

Q: How soon the "near future" is?
Answer: Piecemeal.

One man from Wachovia got on the conference call and said he "had no sympathy for the auction rate preferreds. They should have known what they were buying all along. So let them stew."

Subprime problem explained: John Clarke and Bryan Dawe are an Australian comedy team. Dressed in suits and looking very serious, they explain the intricacies of the sub prime mortgage crisis. Two minutes of fun video. Click here.

Tennis TV Schedule - 2008 Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells: The problem is finding Fox Sports Network on your cable or satellite TV. Clue: Sometimes they hang out with MSG (Madison Square Garden). This schedule is not accurate, but it's the best I can do.

Can you get married in Heaven?
On their way to get married, a young Catholic couple is involved in a fatal car accident. The couple find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they begin to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When St. Peter showed up, they asked him.

St. Peter says, "I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out," and he leaves.

The couple sat and waited, and waited. Two months passed and the couple is still waiting. As they waited, they discussed that IF they were allowed to get married in Heaven, what was the eternal aspect of it all.

"What if it doesn't work?" they wondered, "Are we stuck together FOREVER?"

After yet another month, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled. "Yes," he informs the couple, "you CAN get married in Heaven "Great!" said the couple, "But we were just wondering, what if things don't work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?"

St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slams his clipboard onto the ground. "What's wrong?" asked the frightened couple.

"OH, COME ON!" St. Peter shouts, "It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it'll take me to find a LAWYER!

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 on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look 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 Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.

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