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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