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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, Wednesday, May 9: The web calls my sickness acute bronchitis and offers no magic cures, except rest, chicken soup and patience. Yuch. This gives boredom a whole new meaning.

Australia's largest mining company is BHP. It's a gigantic company with a market cap of $152 billion. In a client report dated last Friday, Merrill Lynch analysts Vicky Binns and Duncan Hay said BHP could deliver some handsome returns to a private equity bidder as a result of strong demand from China, India and other emerging economies.

They posited (according to the New York Times story) that a private equity buyer could break up the company and re-sell it on the stock market for $167 billion. Such a move, they said, could deliver a 34 percent rate of return, well over the typical 20 percent that the buyout shops typically look for. “It is a company with low cost, long life, diversified assets with growth that many of its competitors envy,” they said.

I like the attention Australian miners are getting here.

China is going nuts over stocks: From an April 30 issue of China Daily:

Bosses battle stock fever

SHANGHAI: Grabbing a piece of the country's bullish stock market has become something of a national passion, and the only people not excited about the situation are the many bosses out there struggling to keep their employees focused on their work rather than their portfolios.

So far, the stock market has climbed more than 40 percent this year, building on last year's meteoric 130 percent rise. Not surprisingly, people from across the country have been trying to get a piece.

More than 11 million new trading accounts have been opened since the beginning of this year, or twice the total number opened last year, according to the China Securities Depository and Clearing Co Ltd.

Altogether, there are now 90 million trading accounts in China, accounting for 7 percent of the country's 1.3 billion population.

The growing ranks of investors are not just pouring money into the market they are diverting an increasing amount of energy to it.

"It would be a shame to miss out on such bullish conditions after so many years of a bear market," said an editor at a leading news Web portal in Beijing, who requested to remain anonymous.

Some offices have become virtual trading floors during trading hours - 9:30 am-11:30 am and then 1 pm-3 pm - some local newspapers have reported.

People can be seen exchanging trading tips and stock picks over instant messaging programs like MSN and QQ during trading hours. Their work often suffers as a result.

And in some places of business, it is now considered poor form to disturb a staff member or government office worker during trading hours, newspapers have reported.

"The problem has become more acute with every increase in the market," said Tang Liang, who runs a small trading company in Hangzhou, the capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province.

But the young boss said he was taking a relatively relaxed attitude toward the problem.

"I discourage my staff from diverting too much energy to stock trading during working hours," the manager said.

You must see this musical: It runs until July 15. I saw it last night. I was blown away.

You read about it here. You get tickets here. The star is Audra McDonald, who is beyond fabulous. You will rarely see talent like Ms. McDonald. She is supported by a strong cast, which includes John Cullum and Steve Kazee. Here's a writeup:

In the middle of a heat wave in 1930's Texas, when everyone is longing for rain, or a breeze, Lizzie Curry (McDonald) is on the verge of becoming a hopeless old maid. Her wit, intelligence and skills as a homemaker can't make up for the fact that she can't find true love. Even the town sheriff, for whom she harbors a secret yen, won't take a chance. However, when a charismatic rainmaker named Starbuck (Kazee) enters the town and her family's life, Lizzie's world is turned upside down.

Four-time Tony® Award winner Audra McDonald returns to the Broadway stage having most recently won a Tony® for her performance in the 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Broadway veteran and two-time Tony® Award winner John Cullum returns to Roundabout as "H. C. Curry" having last starred in Arthur Miller's All My Sons during the 1996-1997 season. Steve Kazee returns to the Broadway stage after starring as Sir Lancelot in Monty Python's Spamalot. Lonny Price returns to Roundabout Theatre Company having recently directed the 2003 Broadway revival of "Master Harold"...and the boys starring Danny Glover.

The cast also features Chris Butler as Noah, Carla Duren as Snookie, Christopher Innvar as File, Bobby Steggert as Jimmy. The full cast includes Elisa Van Duyne, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Valisia Lekae Little, Darius Nichols, Mamie Parris, Devin Richards, Michael Scott, Will Swenson, Matt Wall and Betsy Wolfe.

Five technology predictions for 2007. One of my favorite IT (computer) writers is Robert X. Cringely. Here are his just-released five predictions for 2007:

I've decided to go into the futurist business. It's where all the money is. And if you turn out to be wrong, there's a chance your clients will die before they find out. So I consulted The Oracle (no, not that Oracle), gazed into my Magic 8-Ball, and sifted through My Pet Goat's entrails. Here's what I saw:

1. Google will split itself into two divisions, one good and one evil, who then will battle for Web domination. I'm putting my money on evil -- they always have the cooler costumes

2. Dell will go on a major enterprise acquisition spree. But instead of buying up companies they'll just purchase Larry Ellison. It's so much faster.

3. Apple will announce the iShield, a portable force field that protects its owner from exterior threats -- like SEC investigations. Unfortunately it will only work for Steve Jobs.

4. In an effort to halt the Googlization of everything, two major Web rivals (MSN and Yahoo? AOL and MySpace? Amazon and eBay?) will swallow hard and merge their operations. The process will look like a train wreck in slow motion. There will be no survivors.

5. The White House will locate printouts of the 5 million emails it has misplaced -- stuffed inside mattresses at the DC Madam's digs. Investigators will be allowed to view a list of the messages, but reading them will cost $275 an hour with a 90-minute minimum.

Go figure: In the United States, deaf people have safer driving records than hearing people. Could that be because they're not on their cellphones while driving?

How profitable is the hedge fund / private equity business? Last week's gala dinner for Robin Hood Foundation raised an eye-popping $71 million, up 32% from the previous year. Most charities are lucky if they raise $1 million from their annual dinners. What's even more amazing about Robin Hood is that the entire running expenses and the tab for the dinner are paid for by the Robin Hood's board of directors. 100% of the monies raised go into the Foundation's programs -- which target poverty in New York City. Repeat: there are no administrative expenses taken out of the monies raised.

My hedgie went. His eyes are still popping:

+ The board announced it wanted to raise $30 million to start a teacher training institute. One fellow immediately stood up and pledged $10 million, followed by 23 people who each pledged $1 million, followed by 25 who each gave $250,000.

+ Two people each paid $400,000 to sing a song with Aerosmith, the night's entertainment.

+ An all-expenses-paid trip to the Olympics in China that included being with the “Today” host Matt Lauer and meeting a member of the United States women’s soccer team went for $2.2 million.

The Foundation has developed unique ways of measuring the success of its programs. Because of their quantitative nature, they appeal to hedgies many of whom are "quants" themselves. Clearly, I'm impressed.

Buying a defibrillator, part 2: Reader Ron Manuel writes,


I took the same training as your son (CPR/AED) shortly after one of our partners died at home while exercising. We purchased AEDs ((Automated External Defibrillators) for the workplace and I'm considering purchasing one for home.

Here's the problem: If I'm exercising at home in the exercise room (garage) by myself and keel over, having an AED doesn't help. The AED will only help if I'm with someone else that sees me in need of resuscitation, knows there is an AED, and knows how to use it.

I think I'll get one anyway, and just realize the limitations.

The Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator (AED) is the one to get. It costs $1,150.

Our wonderful children -- part 1
A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses.

She started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!"

After a few seconds, Little Davie stood up. The teacher said,

"Do you think you're stupid, Little Davie?"

"No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!"

Our wonderful children -- part 2
Little Timmy watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face.

"Why do you do that, mommy?" he asked.

"To make myself beautiful," said his mother, who then began removing the cream with a tissue.

"What's the matter?" asked Little Timmy. "Giving up?"

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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