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 EST, Tuesday, May 1: April showers bring May flowers. And Mayflowers? Why Pilgrims. The problem with "investing" is that you're playing someone else's game. Someone else runs it. Someone else makes all the decisions. And even though you own it, they don't listen to you, the "activist" shareholder.

I instance this because I'm fascinated with Verizon. Here's a company with everything going for it -- except imaginative management. It supplies communications to the most communicative cities in the country, including New York. Yet its profit for the first quarter fell 8% and its landlines are collapsing.

The company's problem is that in the old days, marketing was regulation. You wanted more money, you simply asked the state regulatory commissions to bump your rates. And your customers paid them. But these days I make phone calls via my cable company. I get fax calls on my computer over the Internet. And lots of people -- my son included -- don't see any reason to have a landline from Verizon.

I wish I were in charge of Verizon marketing. (I've suggested the idea.) I'd introduce Verizon FiOS into Manhattan. FiOS is TV/Internet/phone faster and better than Time Warner. Yet I can't get it. Why? Who knows. I don't exactly live in Podunk. I've begged everyone in Verizon for it, to no avail. Yet Verizon keeps advertising it nationally, pissing off all the people (like me) who can't get it.

I do have some Verizon landlines and I have a Verizon cell phone. Wouldn't it be nice if Verizon integrated them so I could have one voice mail box, so I could get my messages on my computer.... Wouldn't it be nice if Verizon sold a phone that would synch with my Outlook -- for contacts and calendar? Wouldn't it be nice? I could play this game for weeks.

Japan's NTT DoCoMo has thousands of outside partners who provide services to enhance DoCoMo cell phones. Verizon basically has none. Once I tried to work a deal with NTT. I'd provide a service for Verizon phones. If someone used my service, they'd pay extra for it and Verizon would automatically add a small charge to their monthly bill. Great idea! It was such a nightmare dealing with Verizon's people that I never pursued it. Verizon people were not responsive, not interested, overly bureaucratic…. They clearly didn’t understand startups. Their only motivation was to study my idea, not to do it -- even though it would have cost them absolutely nothing.

How bad is Verizon's lack of imagination? I can’t even lengthen the number of rings before my Verizon cellphone dumps my callers into voice mail. And since my Verizon BlackBerry rings so quietly, that means everyone gets dumped into voice mail, while I'm still fumbling to get it out of my pocket.

Verizon is spending big money on FiOS (though not to me). And Cramer thinks you can benefit by owning Ciena, Corning, JDSU and Tellabs -- the usual suspect telecom suppliers. Don't waste your money. I wish I could point to a new boom in telecom. I can't.

Commodities are up, but weird ones: There are people who gamble on individual commodities. Not me. I'm still with my commodities fund because of its broad holdings. Diversification is the only free lunch in investing. And so far this year, I'm up 9.23% before fees. This is not a brilliant return, but better than 2006 when the fund was flat.

Cast your eye down the list. It's amazing how much these things fluctuate in such a short time. And it's amazing which ones are up. Nickel is the big winner, which is another reason I like Australian miners, especially the ones with big nickel deposits.

Start Date
End Date
Soybean Meal
Crude Oil
Heating Oil
Natural Gas
Unleaded Gas
Live Cattle
Lean Hogs
Feeder Cattle
Orange Juice

For the plane, for the tennis court: These are the best-tasting "power" bars. I use them for tennis and traveling. Apparently, your body is meant to be fueled every four hours. Doing vigorous exercise you need fuel more often. These are good fuel.

Don't buy them individually. They're much cheaper in "bulk". They come in cartons of 6 and 16. has them.

Loyalty, not talent: Paul Wolfowitz, present head of the World Bank, bumped his girlfriend's salary a huge $60,000. In my brain, this was not ethical. He doesn't own the bank. It's not his money to give to his girlfriend. He also has not been good for the bank, causing dissension among the ranks. There is now huge pressure for him to resign. This morning, the news carried a story saying he would resign if the board cleared him of misconduct!

I wonder the "logic" of all this. He gets cleared of misconduct and resigns. Like it never happened. John F. Kennedy is reputed to have once said, "Washington is eight square miles surrounded by reality."

How to determine the scientific basis
I know that everyone needs a job, but there are some places where yo' cuzzins should not be allowed to work.

There was a case in West Virginia in one hospital's Intensive Care ward where patients always died in the same bed, on Sunday morning, at about 11 a.m., regardless of their medical condition.

This puzzled the doctors and some even thought that it had something to do with the supernatural. No one could solve the mystery... as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. on Sundays.

So a world-wide team of experts were assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m., all doctors and nurses nervously wait outside the ward to see for themselves, what the terrible phenomenon was all about.

Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits.

Just when the clock struck 11... Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use his vacuum cleaner.

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. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
Go back.