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8:30 AM Tuesday, May 17, 2005: As assets like real estate skyrocket in price, the question is "When to sell?" A friend owns a fish farm he bought several years ago. He's been offered many times what he paid. The fish farm has now become a hot real estate development property, not a fish farm. My friend knows little about developing real estate for houses and shopping centers. He knows a lot about fish farms. My advice: Sell IF you can invest your profits in another fish farm -- perhaps one further away at lower prices.

In short, The question of selling becomes less and less the price (though it's important to get the price up) and more and more on how well you can invest the proceeds.

I don't make this stuff up:
+ Paul Allen invested $8 billion in Charter Communications. It's now worth $423 million, about 95% less. Paul got his money from co-founding Microsoft. Obviously Mr. Allen never heard of our 15% Stop Loss Rule.

+ May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Bank AG, Europe's third- largest lender, plans to start its first hedge fund for Muslim investors, shunning investments in alcohol, tobacco and securities that pay interest. (I love the last one.)

+ UPS buys Overnite Corp. for $1.25 billion in cash. Overnite who? Overnite calls itself "the leading provider of less than truckload transportation services." Overnite reported net income of $63.3 million in 2004 on revenue of $1.65 billion. That means UPS paid a multiple of 19.8 times for the company. Sounds like a good deal to me.

+ So far this year, the biggest U.S. airlines have reported losses totaling $3.1 billion. But, some airline CEOs say this may actually be a peak in the economic cycle for them -- meaning there's nowhere to go but down, writes Scott McCartney in today's Wall Street Journal.

+ Morticians who book corpses on JetBlue are entitled to a free round-trip ticket after about 15 "ship-outs." According to today's Wall Street Journal, "The yield on transporting human remains -- I want to be sensitive when I say this -- is definitely worth our while," says Dale Anderson, director of mail and cargo for JetBlue. "I have to move close to 1,000 pounds of general cargo to equal the revenue of one human remain."

+ When she first became an AT&T saleswoman in the early 1970s, Carly Fiorina was labeled the "token bimbo."

+ Newsweek retracted its story that someone in the U.S. military had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. As a result of Newsweek's story, 16 people have been killed and more than 100 injured. The Newton family motto is CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. In its quest for "scoops," the nation's press has become very hurried and lax. The takeaway lesson: Read the press with a jaundiced eye. Not everything you read is true. But also be aware that "breaking" stories evolve in ways reporters and editors never imagined. Remember how snippets of Watergate eventually lead to a president resigning?

Another reason NOT to keep your money with Morgan Stanley: In a lawsuit arising from the 1998 merger of Sunbeam and Coleman, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Morgan should pay Revlon Chairman Ron Perelman $604.3 million. Mr. Perelman claimed that Morgan tricked him into selling his 82% stake in Coleman in exchange for Sunbeam stock that crumbled to dust after the discovery of massive accounting fraud. Morgan is subject to paying punitive damages, too, which will be set in the next phase of the trial. Morgan's total liability could rise to $2.7 billion. Couldn't happen to a nicer firm.

Great news for wine drinkers: The Supreme Court struck down state laws that restricted direct sales across state lines by wineries to consumers. The ruling ultimately means that you and I will be able to order our wine from wherever we please and have it delivered to wherever we want. Long term, the price of wine should fall as new competition explodes.

Please don't. More and more Americans are turning to debt to pay for lifestyles their current incomes can't support, according to today's Wall Street Journal. "Financial firms have turned credit for the masses into a huge business, as workers use borrowing to boost sluggish wages." Borrowing to buy appreciating assets -- like homes -- makes sense to me. Borrowing to finance lifestyle makes zero sense to me.

In 1757, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Better to go to bed supperless, than wake up in debt."

Insult of the week: A lady friend actually said this to a dear friend's wife. "I don't think Dan knows how lucky he is to be married to a woman who spends no money on clothes."

Microsoft obsesses with security: If you use Microsoft's Outlook, be aware that it blocks 71 types of files. It does this by looking at the file's extension -- the three or four letters after the dot. What's worse is that the ONLY way you can receive files with extensions such as exe, com and vbs, is to ask the person sending you the file to name to something else -- like myfile.exe_extra -- and then send it. Microsoft allows you send standard Office files like doc and xls, but not pst, which is the name of the file which Outlook itself stores all contacts, emails and calendar in. (Go figure.)

How to understand women:
A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want.

"The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

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.
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