Welcome to week 80 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















10.39 points

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

For the first time in more than a month, I'm back up on Mr. Market by double-digits. My holdings did most of the heavy lifting, as the S&P 500 remained volatile.

Several things could be holding back Mr. Market. Take the partisan bickering over health care reform, for example. A failure to act could prove costly to big businesses such as Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX). They'd be faced with an impossible choice: either absorb the higher premiums naturally resulting from an out-of-control system, or force employees to foot the bill and risk losing talent.

Toyota's rotten, piecemeal disclosures aren't helping, either. Earlier this week we learned that there are documents -- documents! -- that show the company celebrated lobbying "wins" where regulators apparently agreed to forego punishing Toyota for some quality problems, including issues with the Sienna minivan -- presumably the very troublesome model that my family uses.

I can't be the only one who wants to know the names of the politicos who approved this deal. Hey, morons: Expect a letter. And a fistful of run-flat-tires-that-can-barely survive-20,000-miles, if perchance we ever meet.

At this point, there's little chance Toyota will be able to stick consumers with the tab for its troubles. Credit card issuers might be a little more fortunate. With the new CARD Act officially activated this week, you can expect Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and others to try imposing annual fees and higher balance transfer charges or anything else they can think of to offset new restrictions on rate hikes.

The week in tech
Will techies also be able to raise prices? Good question. Right now, it's a race to see who can be cheapest. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), for example, is now poised to change the way we receive and monitor power, thanks to a deal with U.S. energy regulators.

I like the possibilities. Not so much because of what Google will do with the excess power generated by its solar panels, but because of the potential for delivering data at very high speeds through a plug in the wall.

Critics will argue, rightly, that the aptly named broadband over power lines (BPL) standard-in-development has a checkered history, at best. If I'm less quick to discount BPL, it's because the IEEE has a record for successfully shepherding communicative technologies. Google has also invested in BPL, as has IBM.

To be fair, these bets guarantee nothing. But history shows that a portfolio of disruptors can create massive amounts of wealth when operating inside a diversified portfolio.

Look at David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on a collection of innovators, and then holding them for the long-term. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with my tech portfolio, I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!
Now let's move on to the rest of today's update:

  • Good news for IBM. Following a decline of more than 18% last year, researchers at Gartner and IDC say to expect the server market to grow again in 2010, Reuters reports. Big Blue is the world's top server vendor in terms of revenue.
  • Earlier this week, MarketWatch quoted a Nomura International securities analyst who says the conditions are right for an influx of cash into Taiwanese equities. If he's right, Taiwan Semiconductor could be poised for a very healthy 2010.

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

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakers stock picking team. He owned shares of Google, 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 owns shares of Oracle and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.