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, Friday, May 18: Rowan Cos, Global SantaFe, Dril-Quip and Schlumberger seem to be enjoying a mini-boom as word gets out that the search is seriously on for oil in increasingly difficult places. I've mentioned Rowan, Global SantaFe and Dril-Quip in recent days. Here's Schlumberger's chart:

Here's the Wall Street Journal's take on Schumberger:

Schlumberger is an oilfield service company supplying a range of technology services and solutions to the international petroleum industry. It consists of two business segments: Schlumberger Oilfield Services and WesternGeco. Schlumberger Oilfield Services is an oilfield services company supplying a range of technology services and solutions to the international oil and gas industry. WesternGeco, owned by Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, is an advanced surface seismic company. Schlumberger?s products and services include the evaluation and development of oil reservoirs (controlled digging, pumping and testing services), well construction and production consulting, and sale of software programs. The Company also offers storage tank and seismic monitoring services. Schlumberger Limited is headquartered in Paris, France.

If anyone can time the market, you'd think Bill Gross could: From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

At a companywide barbecue last week, William H. Gross celebrated 20 years as skipper of Pimco's Total Return Bond Fund -- a job that has earned him a reputation as perhaps the savviest bond manager around. And this week, Pimco could boast of having signed none other than Alan Greenspan to help it with its economic forecasting.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gross is having to accompany both occasions with a mea culpa.

Last year, Mr. Gross, chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., became convinced that the U.S. housing market was in dire shape, and that the Federal Reserve would have to cut interest rates as a result. So he stocked up on securities that would gain from a rate cut. And he avoided high-yielding corporate bonds, on the assumption that a slowing economy would hurt riskier debt.

That call, Mr. Gross acknowledges, was a "big mistake."

While he was right about the housing market, he was wrong where it counts -- on interest rates. The Fed hasn't cut rates, and high-yield bonds have been on a hot streak.

As a result, the $104 billion Total Return Fund is trailing far behind the competition for the past year. In the past 12 months, the fund is up 6.22%, compared with an average 6.96% for similar funds. That may not seem like a lot, but in the world of bonds, a few hundredths of a percent make a big difference. Today, the Total Return is trailing roughly three-quarters of its peers.

No one is on the foreign desk. There are two ways to buy foreign stocks (e.g. many Australian miner) that aren't traded in the U.S. You can open an Australian bank account and link it to an Australian online broker. You do your trading online. Easy.

A second way is to have your American broker buy the overseas stocks. Most can do that. But it takes an extra day. You give them the order one day. They send it to their traders in Australia and the following day the stocks appear in you U.S. account. I tried placing an order last night at 6 PM with Citigroup, figuring my broker could contact Citigroup's foreign desk and place the order in time for trading today (Friday) In Australia. No such luck. The foreign desk didn't answer! Australia is presently 14 hours ahead. There's no overlapping time between our trading hours and theirs! Somehow, you'd think an organization the size of Citigroup...

My favorite point and shoot camera just got better: This is the updated version of the Canon SD800 IS, now called the SD850 IS and just about to be out. It looks exactly like the SD800 IS.

If I were buying a new pocket camera, this is the one I'd get (when it's available, shortly). It's called the SD-850 IS in the U.S. In Europe, the SD800 IS is the IXUS 850 and the SD850 IS is the IXUS 950. Do not buy the U.S. camera called the SD900 (Europe Digital IXUS 900 Ti).Though the SD900 has more pixels (10 million), it does not have image stabilization. And you really want image stabilization. Trust me.

SD800 IS
SD850 IS
Suggested retail price
7.1 million
8 million
Image stabilization
28 mm to 105 mm (3.7x)
35mm to 140 mm (4x)
Face detection
6.9 ounces
6.9 ounces

Learning about book retailing: is selling the latest (23rd) edition of my dictionary at $25.16 -- a discount of 37.1% to the "retail" price of $39.95 I established. Amazon is selling it through distributors (but not directly) at the full retail price. I'm sure this will change. But for now, Harry's motto remains: CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.

In time for summer parties. Just what you've always needed. Stick your IPOD in and take this thing to the beach. It will run on its own internal batteries for 6 hours on LOUD.

Comes with two wheels and 15 watts (not huge, but OK) and will work with any iPod, regardless of generation. Costs only $299.

Was Osama Right? Bernard Lewis, a wise professor on the middle east, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. It begins:

During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals -- notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnapping of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.

For the rest of the Professor Lewis's engrossing, piece, click here.

The Indian bride:
A young Jewish man calls his mother and says, "Mom, I'm bringing home a wonderful woman I want to marry. She's a Native American and her name is Shooting Star."

"How nice," says his mother.

"I have an Indian name too," he says. "It's Running Deer" and I want you to call me that from now on."

"How nice," says his mother.

"You should have an Indian name too, Mom."

"I already do," says the mother. "You can call me Sitting Shiva."

The mechanic and the surgeon
A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop.The surgeon was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, can I ask you a question?" The surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, "So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic. "Try doing it with the engine running."

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.