Welcome to week 50 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return





Harris & Harris (NASDAQ:TINY)












Taiwan Semiconductor








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 Mr. Market was even better for my tech portfolio, which added 38 basis points to an already sizeable lead in this contest. Here's a look at where we started last summer. Every one of these stocks has been a real-money winner for me.

But my returns are lightweight compared some of the recent rally’s biggest winners. A friend on Twitter says she knows someone who loaded up on Ford (NYSE:F) at around $1 a share. The stock is trading for more nearly $7 as of this writing. Wowsa.

Are these gains sustainable? That's a fair question. Ford this week said it earned $0.69 per share in the second quarter, up from a $3.89-per-share loss in last year's Q2. But all of that and more came from $2.8 billion in "special items." (Ahem.)

Of course, Ford wasn't the only one to put its accountants on the hamster wheel. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) touted "profits" built from massive, one-time asset sales. (Ahem.)

But the biggest news of the week was the health-care debate and its potential impact on the federal budget, and thereby the economy. The back-and-forth has been typically partisan and tiring, and in the process has obscured an important truth: The real cost of the bailout is nowhere near $23.7 trillion. (Ahem.)

The week in tech
You'll find an equal amount of hand-wringing among tech investors this morning. Last night, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced its first-ever year of negative growth as a public company. Pure schadenfreude for haters, in other words.

Wait, there's more! Microsoft's $13.1 billion in fourth-quarter revenue was more than $1 billion short of the Street's average target. What went wrong? Windows. Yes, Windows. Not enough PCs shipped with Vista installed. Consequently, the client business unit -- responsible for shepherding the Windows OS -- suffered a 29% drop in revenue. No division suffered more.

But just as Intel was the foil for Advanced Micro Devices when it reported awful earnings, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was Microsoft's mirror image. The Mac maker's third-quarter revenue improved 12%, and per-share profit rose 13% on fat iPhone margins.

That was one of this week's few victories in tech earnings. Shares of Amazon.com are down more than 8% after reporting a drop in profits. NetGear (NASDAQ:NTGR) gave up a year's worth of gains after reporting lower margins and a net loss.

So be it. History says that tech markets are prone to disruption, and tech investors do best when they're patient, as David Gardner has been. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. With these five tech stocks, I believe I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!

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

  • Kovio, a microelectronics innovator, this week raised $30 million in new funding from Harris & Harris and other venture capitalists. The money should bankroll Kovio's tiny barcode technology, designed to make consumer products more intelligent.
  • Analysts predict that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing will reveal market-share gains when it reports second-quarter earnings on July 30, according to Reuters.

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

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Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Apple, Amazon, and NetGear are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.