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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Wednesday, May 18, 2005: I may be wrong. 2005 may turn be a good year for stocks -- if you pick carefully and slowly. Cramer and others say "Buy best of breed." He's right. Whole Foods (WFMI) is best of breed.

So is JetBlue (JBLU), which is now the largest airline at New York's JFK Airport!

TriPath (TPTH) is also, handsomely blowing away the competition.

So is Independence Community Bank (ICBC), now coming back.

My portfolio is small. I also own General Electric (GE) and four long-term biotech gambles -- Hana Biosciences (HNAB), Manhattan Pharmaceuticals (MHTT), Novadel Pharma (NVD) and Point Therapeutics (POTP). I'm looking at a few others today, in between tennis and having lunch at my local Whole Foods.

What also gives me confidence is that one of my LBO/private equity fund is starting to sell some of its assets and, surprise, surprise, is getting top dollar for them. Their most recent sale of a company called the Yellow Brick Road Group is returning us investors 4.5 times on the money we invested, for an IRR of slightly more than 120% -- which, as they say in Australia, is better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish, or, as they say in the States, is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

"Betting" is the word Wall Street uses. I'd rather use the word gambling. Warren Buffett's bet against the dollar cost him a $307 million loss for Berkshire Hathaway in the first quarter. It has also hurt many Americans who invested in stocks and bonds overseas. I never did for two reasons:

1. Betting is a euphemism for gambling. All the "logical" pointers would suggest that the dollar should keep going down -- what with deficits everywhere. But as some famous person once said -- allegedly John Maynard Keynes -- "Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than I can remain solvent."

2. My total concern is capital preservation. These days I'd rather have my money in a savings account than in a "bet" against something I know nothing about, and feel queasy about. The best news: I took my Independence Community Bank manager out to lunch and badgered him into paying me a higher interest rate on my savings account. If you're interested, send me an email and I'll introduce you.

Running a business without knowledge and ... a backup is insane. I'm an idiot. A total moron. I offered to help configure a friend's new laptop. Her people sent me Outlook.pst -- her company's database of Outlook contacts, appointments and emails. I never got the file. And they accidentally erased it. Meantime, it appears they don't have any backups. So 12-years of business contacts have evaporated. Remember, I don't make this stuff up.

I remain totally in awe of the number of small business owners who stubbornly refuse to learn anything about computers. Yet it's what they run their businesses on. And their most valuable asset is not real estate, inventory, storefronts, patents.... it's the list of their customers. And they're all kept on computers -- which aren't backed up. Go figure.

Google Alerts are the greatest: Following a stock? Sign for Google Alerts. Google will send you emails as news happens or once a day. It's truly useful. Further, you can shut the alerts down as fast and as easily as you started them. Click here.

Dreyfus stinks. Don't ever think of investing with Dreyfus. They give incompetence, arrogance and rudeness to their customers a whole new meaning.

You get what you pay for: Laptops are cheap these days because they're cheap. The cheap ones are badly-made, unreliable and should not be used for business, From my laptop vendor, "The most popular Toshibas are the junky, cheap Satellites like the M30X/M35X. Their best product is the Tecra M series. It has been one of the most stable and more reliable machines they have built in a while." I just ordered myself a new M3, their latest.

Brilliant idea of the month: My wife complained my jeans looked like "old fart's jeans," i.e. "baggy" (but comfortable). Solution: I bought a paid two sizes smaller and told her they were my new "designer" jeans. (Someone has to design them.) Fortunately, they were on sale -- $24 at Eddie Bauers. I now look hip. She's happy and my pocket book is happy. Squeezing into them is the only problem remaining.

A crude joke told by a beautiful woman, Maria Menounos, via Esquire Magazine:
Joe and his buddy Frank visit a brothel. Joe goes into the room with the prostitute first while Frank waits outside.

When he's done, Joe closes the door behind him and says, "Don't waste your time. My wife's better."

But Frank goes in anyway. When he emerges 15 minutes later, he shakes his head in disappointment and says, "Damn, Joe. You were right. Your wife is better."

Let's learn Spanish:
A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine. ''House'' for instance, is feminine: ''la casa.'' ''Pencil,'' however, is masculine: "el lapiz.''

A student asked, ''What gender is a computer?''

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether ''computer'' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. She asked each group to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that ''computer'' should definitely be feminine (''la computer''), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group concluded that computers should be Masculine (''el computer''), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

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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