Welcome to week 56 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.

Put in another week in Mr. Market's breadbasket; my portfolio lost another 40 basis points in this race. I blame Mickey. And Spidey. On Monday, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment (NYSE:MVL) for $4 billion in cash and stock.

But my finger-pointing is misplaced; only Disney is an S&P 500 stock, and it's down more than 5% since the Marvel deal was announced. History may be the better scapegoat. I'm competing against the fourth-largest stock rally ever. Give Mr. Market gusting tailwinds, and he'll make up ground from time to time. Better for me to be humble -- and watch my back.

There's just no telling what will send the market (or any single stock) soaring. Take this week's news about AIG (NYSE:AIG). Theories vary on why the flailing insurance giant's stock has been a short-term multibagger, but the latest may be the most infuriating: a possible reconciliation with former CEO Hank Greenberg.

Former Boeing (NYSE:BA) Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson -- a 40-year-vet of the company -- won't be so lucky. Carson this week "retired" from running the program that saw the much-anticipated 787 Dreamliner suffer delay after production delay.

In short: Speculative excess matched up with business reality, and business reality won.

The week in tech
Speculative excess has long been a hallmark of the tech market, but there's no doubting the tangible success of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Snow Leopard edition of Mac OS X. The operating-system upgrade adds, among other things, built-in support for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange protocol that supports its Office suite of business applications.

Netbooks were also in the news, this time thanks to a crazy plan from Nokia (NYSE:NOK). The world's market leader in smartphones apparently plans to sell its Booklet 3G for 575 euro, though European customers could see lower prices. Nokia apparently plans to have local mobile network operators subsidize sales of the Booklet 3G.

Investors should pay attention, if only because history says that tech industries are prone to disruption. But "pay attention" doesn't mean "act rashly." History also says 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:

  • Just when we all thought Oracle had cleared the hurdles standing in the way of its deal for Sun Microsystems, the EU Competition Commission this week opened an antitrust inquiry. Regulators get till January 19 to examine the deal. For those keeping score at home, the news of Oracle's planned $7.4 billion buyout of Sun broke in April.

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Akamai and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Disney, Microsoft, and Nokia are Inside Value picks. Apple, Disney, and Marvel are Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and Marvel and stock positions in Akamai, Harris & Harris, IBM, Nokia, 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.