Welcome to week 150 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers.


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM) $22.23 $31.66 42.4%
Harris & Harris $6.22 $5.45 (12.4%)
IBM $122.42** $176.49 44.2%
Oracle $22.37** $33.94 51.7%
Taiwan Semiconductor $8.97** $12.62 40.7%
AVERAGE RETURN -- -- 33.32%
S&P 500 SPDR $119.45** $134.40 12.52%
DIFFERENCE -- -- 20.8

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

Let the rally continue. This time, I added 150 basis points to my lead, a nice follow-on from last week's eight-point surge. My lead now stands above 20 points with just one month left in this three-year contest.

Interestingly, the price of gold rose 1% and outpaced the S&P last week. Nervous investors may be seeking safe haven in commodities and commodity producers such as Abraxas Petroleum (Nasdaq: AXAS), which rallied more than 19% last week after closing on a new credit facility and the acquisition of additional drilling capacity. Insider buying may also be a factor. Even so, as a class, commodities and commodity stocks may be a bad play right now.

The good news? Whichever direction investors choose to take, we've all a bit more capital available to make bets. Household debt as a percentage of income has plunged over the past four years to its lowest level since the early 1990s, my Foolish colleague Morgan Housel reported.

The week in tech
Talk to the digitally interested, and they'll tell you they're putting more resources to work in IPOs. They're lured by the outrageous returns produced by the likes of Qlik Technologies (Nasdaq: QLIK) and Youku.com (Nasdaq: YOKU). What you don't hear about are the busted offerings that still offer value, such as Boingo Wireless (Nasdaq: WIFI). Get details on two others my colleagues like right now. 

Zynga still tops the headlines among the IPO class to come, and for good reason. After a week of sifting through the prospectus and allowing myself to try Empires & Allies, an addicting simulation of the birth of a military-industrial complex, I've come to believe that Zynga's much-hyped $20 billion valuation may be spot-on.

I've also had time to consider the full weight of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) social-media play -- Google+ -- and found myself impressed that Facebook felt it had to respond quickly. On Wednesday, the social network added video chat to its platform with Skype. Expect to see more deals like this. Facebook and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) can't afford to let the cloud-computing opportunity get away from them, and neither can you.

Why? Ask Fool co-founder and Motley Fool Rule Breakers chief David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on and holding innovators for the long term. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that my tech portfolio will achieve similar results.

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

  • Fairpointe Capital's Thyra Zerhusen, named to Smart Money's 2011 list of "world's greatest investors," named Akamai as one of her top picks. Why? At 20 times current-year earnings estimates and 18 times next year’s target, the stock is priced "well below" its value, the magazine quotes Zerhusen as saying.

There's your checkup. See you back here over the weekend for more tech-stock talk. In the meantime, don't forget to keep up with my tech portfolio by adding these stocks to your watchlist today:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock picking team and owned shares of Akamai, Google, Harris & Harris, IBM, Oracle, Qlik Technologies, and Taiwan Semiconductor at the time of publication. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or on Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Qlik Technologies, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Akamai Technologies, Qlik Technologies, and Microsoft and creating a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.