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 Monday, October 30, 2006: Back from Israel. Simple impressions:

+ Israel is tiny. 35 miles at its widest. Around 300 miles long.
+ Israel has few people. Six million versus Iran's 70 million.
+ Israel is an amazing economic success story. You can't fail to be impressed. It's leapt from agriculture to technology, skipping the steps in between. Microsoft, Intel, Motorola and a zillion others now have R&D operations there.
+ Israel has more companies on Nasdaq than every other country outside the U.S. Warren Buffet just paid $4 billion for 80% of Iscar Metalworking Cos., a metal-cutting tools company owned by the Wertheimer family. Israel is very proud of Buffet's endorsement of its economy.
+ Israel is safe to visit. There is extensive security. Suicide bombings have dropped dramatically.
+ There are no solutions to peace in Middle East. All Arab countries (exception Iraq) are dictatorships who use Israel and the Palestinians to deflect criticism from their internal lack of freedom and their low living standards.
+ There are two main branches of Islam -- Shiite and Sunni. They don't like each other. When America toppled Saddam Hussein (who had Sunnis running Iraq), it opened the way for Shiites (who outnumber the Sunnis) to gain. Iran is Shiite. It took the hint.
+ There will be more wars. Everyone expects another war with a newly re-armed Hizbollah. Israeli soldiers I spoke with told me Hizbollah's arms came from Iran, Syria and Russia. Some were old. Some were brand-new. Hizbollah is a "real" army, many told me. It's not a group of terrorist thugs. It's trained and organized.
+ Israel bungled this recent Hizbollah war. It underestimated Hizbollah's strength. It left its soldiers under-provisioned because of its fear that its helicopters would be hit by Hizbollah missiles. And it lost the PR war by allegedly overreacting.
+ The biggest problem is Iran's nuke -- if it gets one. Israeli hawks say Iran cannot be trusted not to use it. Iran funds terrorism in the region, i.e. Hizbollah and Hamas. Israel cannot afford to take the first hit. Two nukes would wipe out most of Israel. Iran says it's not building a nuke. But it is enriching uranium, which is step one to the bomb. No one knows how long or where.
+ Some people think America is preparing to invade Iran. Phase I would be heavy bombing. Phase II would be "boots on the ground." Phase III could be American use of tactical nuclear bombs to protect our troops. Tempering this awful scenario is the fact that Iran could retaliate strongly -- by bombing oil facilities all over the region and blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil flows. And effectively bring everyone into the war.

I stole this map from the Economist. It shows where we have bases and fleets. Some of these countries are huge.

Three Australian mining stocks are doing well: Kagara Zinc (KZL), Zinifex Limited (ZFX) and Minara Resources Limited (MRE). My favorite remains Kagara. Latest quarterly report shows growing metal production levels and recoveries, more finds found, exploration budget increased. All the good things you expect of a successful mining company. For the report, click here.

Takeover candidates:
+ Sovereign Bank. Its strong north east presence are most appealing.
+ 3Com (Coms). Extensive networking skills should appeal. Needs new management and a strong hand.

Travel tips:
+ Most hotels and airports will sell you broadband access by wireless or wired. It's better wired. If it doesn't work, don't waste your time asking hotel and airport people. They typically haven't a clue.
+ If you do get broadband access, Skype is a great way to call back to the U.S. It's free and sounds better than most dial-up connections. Take along a cheap mike/headset. Works much better than using your laptop's mike and speakers.

+ Connexion by Boeing is fabulous. You can surf Internet and get your emails while five miles up. Boeing spent $150 million on the system only to find most people want to sleep, not surf. Connexion closes end of this year. Sad.
When they give you your userID and password, ask for the SMTP server. That's the server which handles outgoing mail for email programs like Outlook. You may need it if your emails don't go.
+ A noise cancelling set of headphones is a must. It cuts down plane noise. Music from your iPod comes through crytstal clear. You can sleep. I use Targus AWM02US. Worth every penny. Cost $40. Click here.
+ Exercise and sunlight are critical to overcoming jet lag. But sleep still works best.

Favorite junk email justification: From American Express:

This customer service e-mail was sent to you by American Express. You may receive customer service e-mails even if you have requested not to receive marketing e-mails from American Express.

The Jewish rowing team
Yeshiva University's new rowing team was the embarrassment of the entire sports department (which wasn't so hot to begin with!) They not only finish dead last in every competition, but consistently cross the finish line many minutes after their opponents. Finally, they send Goldfarb to spy on the top-rated Harvard Crew team. Lurking in the Cambridge boathouse, he watches the team practice in the Charles River. For an entire week he observes their methods.

Finally, he returns to New York, where his teammates gather anxiously to hear his information.

"I figured out their secret!" he tells them excitedly.

"Nu!? Tell us! Tell us!" demand his teammates, impatiently.

"They have eight guys rowing," he pronounces, authoritatively."And only ONE guy yelling!!"

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.