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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, November 9, 2007: Recession, Yes or No? Stockmarket Up or Down? I read zillions articles on the economy in the last few days. I read what Bernanke said yesterday -- he ain't no Greenspan. And he ain't comforting. In fact, he's downright scary.

I talked a man who manages $15 billion of other peoples' money (including a little of mine). He loves financials -- AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, CountryWide Financial, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch.

The last thing I want to own are financials, since, to my mind, they are the classic cockroach stocks. I have no idea where this sub-prime contagion is going to end or lead to. The the contagion will keep appearing. Several big finanancials (e.g. Morgan Stanley) have already warned to expect more writeoffs. I fear worse. I fear that much consumer credit card debt is now valueless. There's been a big explosion of it -- it happened just after the mortgage companies and the banks had stopped lending to deadbeats. The subprime deadbeats simply moved to credit cards to finance their inexorable spending.

My money manager says he's figured "the worst case scenario" and he reckons a 50% gain in 18 months on these stocks. It's a "deep value" play.

There was a time in the early 1990s when deep discount value financial plays worked. At one point Citigroup looked as though it was going out of business altogether because of crappy loans on commercial real estate. The stock eventually recovered handsomely and at least one Saudi prince make a bundle. And, it has come down substantially.

Friends call me and ask, "Is now the time to buy?"

No one can time the stockmarket, especially this insanely volatile one. Viewed in the context of the past two years, and the market is still looking pretty good. Look at the chart, draw some trend lines and conclude that now may well be a good time to buy.

I wouldn't be buying financials (of all types), home builders, and companies who play in homes, like Home Depot.

I do like oil, agriculture, mining and selective healthcare.

When you read articles and predictions on the econony by economists, remember what my economics professor said: God made economists to make astrologists look good.

My friend's phone service suddenly became awful: It was classic finger-pointing. Verizon said it was his phone system. The phone system vendor said it was Verizon's fault. And there they stood while Rome burned and my friend's law practice slide slowly into oblivion. Fact is it's real easy to figure out whose fault it is. You got to find something called the demarcation point -- where the phone company meets the phone system. You split the two, and test the lines. If the lines don't work, it's the phone company's fault, and vice versa.

To do this, you have to some basic test equipment around. And that's clearly what he didn't have. There's an obvious lesson here.

How customer service should really be: I returned a defective track lighting fixture to Lightolier's president. A week later I received a brand new replacement. No questions asked. I called Bose and asked if there was something I could do about my earphones, whose plastic earbuds kept falling off. They said, "we know about that problem. Return them to us." A week later I received a brand-new replacement earphone. I'm listening to them now as I write this. The Bose earphones, called TriPort IE, are genuinely wonderful.

The $99 Bose TriPort IE work well with my Apple iPods.

Webhosting made easy. My favorite webhoster is ICDSoft. hosts this site. They're the ones who screwed up recently. In sympathy, reader Tom Ramey writes:


Since you had some trouble over the webhosting issue this week, I thought I'd email a few outfits I've used this last decade, that I liked. I have ALL my sites, and a few of those of friends, on my own webservers. currently (though I think it's just good policy to spread your enterprises websites around to several vendors in different parts of the country). But here's a few suggestions:

1) -- very technically competent with anything Microsoft (Sharepoint hosting for instance, .NET hosting) and things like database-driven sites. Owned and operated by the Ritter brothers, based in Edmonton, Canada, and a Microsoft Gold certified partner. Will talk to you on the phone. And you can make deals with them other than shown on the "ratecard". Contacts:

tollfree 877.922.9903, 780-424-7194, David Ritter, Jonathan Ritter

Larry Strange,

Basically a one-man hosting outfit, he's make deals with you too. His expertise is in streaming media hosting, Powerpoint hosting, Sharepoint, etc. Can produce, edit, videos to put online too. Based in Philadelphia I think.

3) Finally, is as good as it gets for cheap and cheerful webhosting.

4) You could buy your own server from or, and maybe buy WEBppliance easy user interface software from , get a Static-IP account from your broadband provider, and host your own website(s), it's pretty simple for old guys like us with 30 years of knife wounds from computers.

For webhosting (and almost all internet services for that matter) you DON'T want to deal with the big companies (they are DIFFICULT to talk to, and don't give a rats ass about you), rather you want the VERY SMALL vendor, 2 or 3 guys is ideal, because you can get them on the phone easily, and they'll do what you want them to do, fix anything pronto, etc.

QCharts sucks less today: The service I use to produce the pretty charts -- like this one from yesterday -- is called QCharts.

It took six phone calls to their tech support to finally pry out of someone that there was a serious bug in their software and they know about it -- but they just don't like telling their customers. It turns out everytime you look up a ticket symbol, some bad software code gets loaded and eventually the software blows up. Easy solution (if only they had told me the first time): don't look up ticket symbols. (Use the Wall Street Journal, for example.)

Why do I think this funny?

I wonder what people did in the old days when they had too much time on their hands -- maybe read a book? Talk to their kids?

Eat your heart out. I'm going to school for the day. My son has invited me to sit in on two of his business school classes. I've read both two cases. I'm prepared. I've been told: "No talking."

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 on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look 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 Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.

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