Welcome to week 25 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
















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

Once again, I'm back on top -- by 88 basis points this time. A nervous Mr. Market can't break these balance sheet bullies.

The week in tech
Several of the top techies are flush. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has $28 billion in cash and investments on its books, for example. Investors can thank the iPhone and iPod touch for that. Unit shipments of Apple's Macs rose just 2% year over year, but the Touch had a blowout quarter that buoyed the iEmpire's retail results. Analyst Charles Wolf of Needham & Co. this week issued a report in which he figured that Apple's stores still generate more than $4,000 in revenue per square foot. And that's with Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) selling more iProducts than ever.

Yet now isn't the time to become complacent. With netbooks on the march, COO Tim Cook needs to keep Apple's legendary innovation machine in perpetual motion. Most of you believe that he will. I hope you're right.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) faces no such ambiguity. CEO Reed Hastings and team sprung a monster of a quarter on investors. Revenue rose 19%, and per-share earnings soared 65%. The DVD-by-mail business is so good that Hastings is exploring a six-day workweek for his company’s shipping staff, even as the U.S. Postal Service suffers from a slowdown that could force it to cut mail delivery to five days a week.

Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA), on the other hand, reported a decent quarter but showed no signs of the fresh thinking needed to turn this business around. I've said before that Sun could be a screaming value -- if management could figure out how to apply its many assets toward profitable new lines of business. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

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 Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio. The "simpleton portfolio" of his brother and Fool co-founder, Tom Gardner, was also a 10-year winner. With these five tech stocks, I believe that I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!
Now, let's move onto the rest of today's update:

  • Apple has hired Limelight Networks to backstop Akamai for software downloads. The deal may not be as bad as investors think, but we won't know for sure until Akamai reports fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Wednesday.
  • IBM finally settled its tete-a-tete with Apple over its hiring of Mark Papermaster to lead development of new iPod and iPhone hardware. Can a breakthrough mobile chip architecture be far behind?
  • Oracle peer SAP this week cut 3,000 jobs, boosting the stock of the German software giant by more than 6%. CAPS investors still prefer the database king, however.

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple, Best Buy, and Netflix are Stock Advisor selections. Best Buy is also an Inside Value pick. Akamai and Harris & Harris are Rule Breakers recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Try any 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 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. The Fool’s disclosure policy is tech-tastic.