Welcome to week 32 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return





Harris & Harris












Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing








S&P 500 SPDR








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

A great week for the market was marginally better for me; my lead grew by 36 basis points.

I'm inclined to give the feds at least partial credit for the gains. On Sunday, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, once again, called a market bottom when he went on CBS's 60 Minutes to talk about the health of the economy. "We'll see recovery beginning next year. And it will pick up steam over time," he told viewers.

Careless optimism, or long-overdue federal cheerleading? Maybe a little of both. Bernanke announced on Wednesday that the Fed planned to buy up more than $1 trillion worth of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities.

The week in tech
Even so, beleaguered insurer AIG (NYSE:AIG) almost ruined the party -- again -- when news of millions of dollars in bonuses reached the public. Whether the ensuing government outrage was either real, or feigned, isn't the point. What matters is that we've apparently reached a point of no return -- either we'll buy our way out of this recession, or we're doomed.

Investors seem to know it, too. They're flocking to cash-rich techies like never before. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), for instance, set a new 52-week highs this week.

Investors have good reason to be bidding up that and other tech stocks; innovation doesn't respect a recession. It never has. Witness Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). This week, the iEmpire introduced version 3.0 of its iPhone software. Among the improvements: systemwide search, in-application micropayments, and tools for copying text, photos, and SMS messages and pasting them into different applications.

Apple can of course, expect continued competition in the smartphone market. Intel and LG Electronics and could have an entry before the end of the year. And pugnacious comments from Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) board member Roger McNamee reveal an intense desire to knock the iPhone off its perch.

And yet shares of Apple are rallying; up 6% this week alone. What's interesting is that, even with these gains, the iEmpire and many of its tech peers are trading well below their 52-week highs.

That's an opportunity. History shows that panicky markets like these reward prudence in picking stocks -- stick to the very best -- and patience in waiting for gains. 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:

  • The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that IBM is preparing to bid of $6.5 billion or more to acquire Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA). It's a potentially powerful combo. Yet there would be hurdles to clear before a deal could be completed. Today's Sun investors might consider cashing in while they can.
  • Oracle not only beat the Street in reporting revenue and earnings this week and it also instituted its first-ever dividend. Finally. (It's about freaking time.)

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple and Netflix are Stock Advisor selections. Intel is an Inside Value pick. Akamai and Harris & Harris are Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of these Foolish services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple 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. The Fool owns shares and has sold covered calls on Intel. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.