These Tech Stocks Will Make Me Rich

Welcome to week 42 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai

$22.23

$21.75

(2.2%)

Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY  )

$6.22

$4.25

(31.7%)

IBM

$126.97**

$104.69

(17.5%)

Oracle

$22.69**

$19.21

(15.3%)

Taiwan Semiconductor

$10.34

$11.14

7.7%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

(11.80%)

S&P 500 SPDR

$124.37**

$90.92

(26.89%)

DIFFERENCE

--

--

15.09

Source: Yahoo! Finance. *Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008. **Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

Tough break, Mr. Market: General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) soured an otherwise good week with an 8-K filing that seems to prepare the way for a bankruptcy filing.

Retail sales aren't picking up, either. Economist David Rosenberg says that stimulus cash supplied via Social Security is being sopped up through higher gas prices. What's good for the oil refiners isn't exactly good for the rest of America, apparently.

The week in tech
Meanwhile, geeks like me had a great week. Between The Wall Street Journal's D7: All Things Digital conference and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) I/O developer conference, there was tech news aplenty.

But the biggies stole the headlines. Twitter's Evan Williams and Biz Stone led the first day of All Things Digital by talking up their business model, or lack thereof. In a follow-up interview, Stone told News.com's Ina Fried that value creation is Twitter's first priority:

In order to create a company that has this enduring value, that is going to be here 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, you have to focus on delivering value first and profit second, especially considering we are only two years old.

Good answer, Biz. Take notice, investors: This is how you want management to behave.

Google kicked off I/O by announcing an American Idol­-style developer contest for its Android mobile platform. CEO Eric Schmidt also talked up browser-based computing -- and gave an unwitting nod to powerhouse PCs in the process -- before closing day one with an Oprah moment: All 4,000 attendees received the latest HTC smartphone handset. Color me jealous.

Still, Android hasn't caught on as fast as Google would like. WiMAX could change that, if AT&T (NYSE: T  ) doesn't get Long Term Evolution (LTE) ready first. Both technologies promise to deliver voice and data at very high speeds over long distances. Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) are working in concert with Google and other partners on a national WiMAX rollout. Ma Bell this week took further steps toward a national LTE rollout that could be completed by 2011.

Google subsequently previewed Wave, a real-time communications aggregator that looks like what Gmail might be were it to fully integrate messaging and social media and respond in 100% real-time. What developers do with the preview, and when it will be released to the public, is anyone's guess.

Which is why Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) gets my top tech news pick this week. Yesterday at the All Things Digital conference, Ballmer took the wraps off of Bing, the search engine formerly known as Kumo. The name might stink but, from what I can tell, the technology doesn't. It may even be the first serious threat to Google's long-dominant search franchise.

"Bing makes Google look complacent, and that's not good for Google," wrote News.com's Rafe Needleman, who was granted a hands-on review of the search engine. "For the moment, Bing's on top in this game. Try this search engine. I do not think you will regret it."

Mr. Softy didn't invite me to try Bing so I can't add anything to Needleman's assessment. But I can appreciate his enthusiasm; the demos look impressive. Watch out, Eric. You too, Larry and Sergey.

Disruption is the coin of the tech realm. If you're going to be a tech investor, buy only with the very long haul in mind. That's how David Gardner produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with these five tech stocks, I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!

Now, let's move on to the rest of today's update:

  • Preparing to meet increased demand, Taiwan Semiconductor now says that it will hire back several hundred workers beginning on June 1. (Applause.)
  • Harris & Harris has released its first-quarter letter to shareholders and net asset value (NAV) per share held mostly steady at $4.22. Better news: The average age of its nanotech investment portfolio, from first dollar invested, is 3.92 years. Most VC funds take anywhere from 7 to 10 years to realize returns on early stage investments.

There's your checkup. See you back here next week for more tech stock talk.

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Microsoft and Sprint Nextel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google and stock positions in Akamai, Harris & Harris, IBM, Oracle, and Taiwan Semiconductor at the time of publication. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool.

The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.


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