Welcome to week 54 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.

Week two of the second year of this contest was a bad one for my tech portfolio, thanks mostly to a reversal at volatile tiny tech investor Harris & Harris. Investors sold in an up-and-down week.

Uncertainty still reigns. Not only does the health-care debate raise questions, it has Fools taking sides. Brian Orelli believes Congress is using its subpoena power to orchestrate a witch hunt against the likes of WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). Nathan Alderman says a public plan could help spur much-needed competition. Read both arguments and decide for yourself.

And then, when you're done, try reading a bank balance sheet. How Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) value the loans on their books can be very different from the actual fair value of what they hold. Shocking.

So far, no one is demanding banks fix accounting discrepancies and lend transparency to their books. But that day may be coming. New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, is taking on Wall Street in a manner reminiscent of his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer.

Cuomo's latest target: Charles Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW). He accuses the broker of misrepresenting the risks of buying and holding auction-rate securities, a charge that Schwab founder and CEO Chuck Schwab disputed in a recent editorial in the pages of The Wall Street Journal. Who's right? That's for a court to decide. But whomever you side with, one thing seems clear: reformers aren't done with the financial industry.

The week in tech
Silicon Valley's best didn't exactly come out swinging this week, either. Venture capitalists named their favorite IPO and acquisition candidates in a poll conducted by Reuters, and neither Twitter nor Facebook made the list.

Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), meanwhile, is aiming to boost revenue via another iPhone hook-up. The "SkyDock" proposes to transform any iPod or iPhone into a fully functional satellite radio with access to all of Sirius XM's content. Color me interested -- I don't drive enough for a Sirius receiver, but a portable option could make sense, if done in a manner that befits Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) style and panache.

Plenty of others are copying the iEmpire's formula. New research from NPD Group shows that makers of plain-vanilla feature phones are now piling on the chocolate. Roughly 26% of all new handsets -- not just smartphones -- shipped with a touchscreen, and 20% had support for Wi-Fi.

So be it. History says that tech markets are prone to disruption, and that tech investors do best when they're patient, as David Gardner has been. He 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. Oracle finally received the blessing of the Department of Justice to move forward with its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Expect the database king to structure itself for more consultative sales pitches that combine hardware, applications, and middleware. Or, in simpler terms: Get ready for Oracle to look a lot like IBM.

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

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