Welcome to week 23 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM)

$22.23

$13.49

(39.3%)

Harris & Harris

$6.22

$3.40

(45.3%)

IBM (NYSE:IBM)

$128.33**

$84.12

(34.4%)

Oracle

$22.75

$16.53

(27.3%)

Taiwan Semiconductor

$10.34

$7.37

(28.7%)

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

(35.00%)

S&P 500 SPDR (AMEX:SPY)

$125.26**

$84.40

(32.62%)

DIFFERENCE

--

--

(2.38%)

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

A rotten week for Mr. Market was slightly worse for my tech portfolio, which fell another 26 basis points behind in our three-year race to the finish line.

The good news? My tech stocks held up better than most. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) took a beating when CEO Steve Jobs opted for medical leave due to a still-mysterious condition that's preventing his body from absorbing food. Seagate (NYSE:STX) succumbed to the tech recession, parting ways with CEO Bill Watkins and COO David Wickersham and cutting 10% of its workforce. And after months of often-wild speculation, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) said that it would cut 100 recruiters and end development on six of its smaller projects, including a very useful organizing tool called Google Notebook. (Bummer.)

Worst of all, though, was the news from Nortel. Canada's once-dominant networking equipment supplier finally gave in to market and competitive pressure and declared insolvency this week. Hello, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO)? You just won the recession lottery. Pick up your prize at bankruptcy court.

The only remedies for times like these are prudence in picking stocks -- stick with 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:

  • Earlier this week, Merrill Lynch analysts cut their rating of Akamai from buy to neutral, citing a few known catalysts and competitive challenges. I'd say the company's very fair valuation -- Akamai trades for 17 times trailing and eight times forward earnings -- is compensation enough for the uncertainty.
  • IBM has taken to "in-sourcing," choosing East Lansing, Mich. and Dubuque, Iowa for its two newest service centers, according to BusinessWeek.

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Rule Breakers recommendations. Try either 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 Google 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.