Welcome to week 34 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 (NYSE:TSM)
















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

Did you fall for our annual April Fool's Day joke? Turns out we Fools didn't need, or get, a $25 million bailout from the U.S. Treasury this week.

Most of you saw through our prank, but enough of you, jaded by real stories of egregious pie-grabbing, wrote to say that you were "ashamed" of us, and that you'd be writing your Congressional delegations to force a return of the bailout that never was.

No amount of folly can disguise the truth that many of you are outraged. You blame JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and other Wall Street firms for the economic collapse, sure, but you also loathe the media for its complicity, for how it ignored signs of executive malfeasance.

That anger is understandable. For as much good as the Obama administration and its predecessor hope to achieve with bailouts of banks and Detroit's Big Three automakers, printing money increases the risk of runaway inflation. A market rally doesn't mean the worst is over.

The week in tech
Yet the rally proves that good stock-picking can pay off. Take my tech portfolio. My five picks collectively outperformed the market by nearly 10 percentage points in March. Every one of them is a market-beater as of this writing, including tiny tech venture capitalist Harris & Harris, my worst performer.

Pockets of the tech sector are doing extremely well. Consider Red Hat's strong earnings report. Cloud computing is also booming. Researcher Gartner says that "cloud services" will account for $56 billion in spending this year and $150 billion in 2013.

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), meanwhile, could be planning to challenge Apple and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) with a smartphone of its own, according to a recent research report from an RBC Capital Markets analyst.

That said, some tech markets are growing despite a nagging recession that, to some, looks like a curtain call for The Great Depression of the 1930s. Cash-rich firms like Cisco want a slice of whatever action they can find.

Yet those techies who need capital to fund growth are having a difficult time. Take Facebook. BusinessWeek reports that the social networking superstar is hunting for $100 million in debt financing. No takers thus far. So be it; a new chief financial officer may opt to forego private fundraising and instead take the company public. (Facebook is conducting a search for a new CFO now.)

Whatever course the company takes, history shows that the markets reward prudence in picking stocks -- stick to 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:

  • Press reports now say that IBM is lowering its bid for Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA). A deal still seems inevitable, but I'm relieved to have advised Sun shareholders to sell and lock in gains.
  • The Chinese language Economic Daily News this week reported that Taiwan Semiconductor is preparing to spend $299 million on new capital equipment to meet demand. A bullish sign? It sure seems like it.

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 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 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.