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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 EST, Friday, May 11: If I were a betting man, I'd say "That's it for now until October. Time to loosen up. Time to do some hedging." Yesterday stockmarkets tumbled pretty badly -- the worst loss in two months -- 1.11% on the Dow, 1.66% on Nasdaq and 1.40% on the S&P 500.

The ostensible reason for yesterday's drop was dismal economic reports -- a plunge in retail sales and a widening in the trade deficit (what Americans export and import) in March to its highest level in six months.

If you wanted to be mean, you could also add in a Wall Street Journal report this morning which said (I don't make this stuff up),

The worst has passed in the economic slowdown, economists said in the latest forecasting survey. By a more than 5-to-1 margin, the economists said they believe the first quarter's 1.3% growth -- the weakest in four years -- marked the low point in the slowdown that gripped the economy much of last year. However, they expect growth to stay below 3% into early 2008, leaving 2007 on track to have the slowest economic growth since 2002. But growth in 2007 is still on track to be the weakest since 2002.

Of course, no one can predict. So you pick your predictions based on your predilections. Pick them (and their justifications) based on what you personally feel. If you feel the sky is falling, you can always read Fred Hickey, who writes "The High-Tech Strategist" newsletter. Excerpts from his May newsletter:

The typical pattern in history has been that when housing turns down, consumer spending follows -- several months later. But this housing downturn is different -- we're coming off the biggest housing bubble ever in this country. The housing industry is collapsing and it hasn't hit bottom yet. ...

The semiconductor equipment industry's customers are struggling. The (Microsoft) Vista Stall has led to a buildup of PC component parts. Disk drive leader Seagate Technology blamed "PC weakness in the U.S. consumer PC market and lighter than expected demand from the Asia-Pacific region" for its disappointing Q1 report. Worse yet, Seagate didn't see any improvement coming in the near future. ...

I am on high crash alert. ... I am more certain than ever that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. I know it's going to blow -- I just don't know when. ...

My put positions (i.e. Hickey's) currently account for approximately 3% of my total portfolio. ... Here are my current tech-related put option positions. (Note: Hickey typically buys LEAPs -- long-term put options.): SanDisk, Texas Instruments, KLA-Tencor, Nvidia, Research in Motion, Apple Computer, Amazon, Dell, Applied Materials, Novellus, NetLogic Microsystems, Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, CDW Corp., Palm, National Semiconductor, On Semiconductor, Google, Savvis, Intersil, FS, Avnet and Arrow Electronics. ...

I continue to hold financial-related put options on broker Bear Stearns, Colonial Bancgroup and MGI Investment Corp.

Personally I wouldn't go near buying put options on Apple (thank you Harry for the nice recommendation) and Google. Both companies are doing spectacularly. But some of Hickey's others look interesting.

My points (i.e. Harry's points) remain:

1. You can't predict.

2. Most years the period May through October in the stockmarket sucks. (Most years, not all years.)

3. You can make a case for things looking pretty awful. You can make a case for the stockmarket being out of whack with the economy.

4. It doesn't hurt to do a little hedging. No one said you had to be 100% long.

See if you can figure the difference:

The first is my old logo. The second is my new logo. It follows my present thinking -- no taxable entities. "Flatiron Publishing" is what I'm publishing the dictionary under, not Flatiron Publishing Inc. It's extraordinarily easy to open entities -- Incs. Corporations, etc. -- but it's extraordinarily hard to close them down. There's always a taxing authority somewhere that insists on sending you bills for something. And while the bills may be small, stopping them is a whole other thing, involving months of letters, phone calls, begging, cajoling and arguing.

Taxes is not what this story is about. It started because I read a New York Times article called Looking Perfect, One Pixel at a Time. It talked about services on the Internet which will touch up your photographs. I emailed one of the services my old logo, asking "Could they remove the Inc." 15 minutes later my new, improved logo came back "No charge." I was impressed.

I called Kevin Winkler of BestPhotoRepair (904.398.5967), thanked him and asked, "What photo fixups do you do commonly do?" Most of the work, he said, was fixing up old or damaged photos. Here are some before and after examples:

He also does colorizations, i.e. black and white to color.

"How has business been?" I asked.

"It's booming." He replied.

"How so?"

He replied with a sigh, "Divorce. I remove people from family photos."

Good news, his price for removing offending spouses is much cheaper than divorce -- from $9.99 to $45.99.

In case you're wondering, what my pompous-sounding slogan "Laborem Bonus Facimus" means? "We do good work." Neat? Please don't steal it. If you need a Latin slogan for your business, let me know, I have a Latin scholar who likes to feel wanted.

Innovative design in real estate: Two-story outhouse.

This is SO stupid
The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife good-bye and said, "Well, I'm off now; the man should be here soon."

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.

Good morning, Ma'am", he said, "I've come to...''

Oh, no need to explain," Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, "I've been expecting you."

"Have you really?" said the photographer. "Well, that's good. Did you know babies are my specialty?"

"Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat"

After a moment she asked, blushing, "Well, where do we start?"

"Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there."

"Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!"

"Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results."

"My, that's a lot!" gasped Mrs. Smith.

"Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that."

"Don't I know it," said Mrs. Smith quietly.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. "This was done on the top of a bus," he said.

"Oh my God!" Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.

"And these twins turned out exceptionally well - when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with."

"She was difficult?" asked Mrs. Smith.

"Yes, I'm afraid so I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look."

"Four and five deep?" said Mrs. Smith, her eyes wide with amazement.

"Yes", the photographer replied. "And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in."

Mrs. Smith leaned forward. "Do you mean they actually chewed on your, uh"

"It's true, Ma'am, yes.. Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away."


"Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long."

Mrs. Smith fainted.........

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.
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