Welcome to week 38 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








S&P 500 SPDR








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

Welcome to yet another interesting week. Only this time, Mr. Market gave up a lot of ground in our three-year contest -- a whopping 365 basis points, specifically.

Swine flu fears didn't help. Which, frankly, is unfortunate. I agree with my Foolish colleague Seth Jayson on this one. As much as I sympathize with those who've been afflicted, and even more with those who have lost loved ones to the virus, it takes a special sort of cognitive dissonance to sell stocks based on nothing more than the unknown odds of a global pandemic.

On the other hand, it's creepy to watch stonehearted speculators load up on shares of GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), among others, just because of the possibility of increased demand for their vaccines. Yeah, I know, you can say it -- I'm a sissy, a compassionate capitalist.

You want to profit from the swine flu? Fine. Buy shares of quality businesses that have sold off during this week's manic market gyrations. Hold for the long haul. Rinse. Repeat.

The week in tech
In tech, an awful report from Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA) confirms that the one-time server superstar had been suffering at the twin altars of intense competition and commodity pricing. Related stocks such as Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) were largely unaffected by the news, but tech, as a whole, remains an uncertain bet.

"Can the sector keep it up? I'm not convinced," wrote Pat Dorsey, Morningstar's director of research, in a recent Money column. "Large software companies, for instance, are likely to be hurt by corporate America's reluctance to lay out cash for big-ticket upgrades in such an uncertain economy."

The industry is also changing. Competition is fiercer. Just this week, Big Blue said it was preparing an intelligent indexing program called "Watson" that IBM scientists believe will compete successfully against human contestants on the game show Jeopardy!. Beneath the hyperbole is a system that could very well disrupt Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in search.

Disruption is the coin of the realm in tech. Investors are therefore best served by exercising 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:

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

Get your clicks with further techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Dell is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. GlaxoSmithKlein is a former Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in 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 owns is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.