Welcome to week 57 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.

Hey, Mr. Market: I'm baaaaaaaack.

A good week for the S&P 500 was better for my tech portfolio, but the week didn't lack controversy. The president's pitch for health-care reform in front of Congress drew praise, criticism, and even a heckler in South Carolina's Joe Wilson.

The debate still rages, to the point that at least one Fool wonders whether we ought to blame Canada for high drug prices. Crazy, you say? Perhaps. Either way, reform seems inevitable at this point. How much reform we'll see -- and what it will cost drugmakers such as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and insurers such as UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) -- is anything but clear.

Perhaps it's ironic that we're staring down this health-care crisis -- you know it's a crisis when hecklers get involved -- on the one-year anniversary of the global financial meltdown. Banks that had existed for decades were wiped out in a matter of weeks last September. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) are still feeling the effects.

So is the whole banking sector. Even though most financial institutions are better-capitalized today than they were one year ago, risk remains, as Foolish colleague Alex Dumortier points out here. At the very least, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will always be "too big to fail," which puts tax dollars at risk without the promise of reward. Talk about a rotten deal.

The week in tech
iPod lovers got a much better deal this week, with several announced upgrades to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) entertainment product line. The changes included lower prices and higher storage limits, but the headliner was iTunes 9, with new features designed to appease artists and studios and entice consumers to buy more albums.

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), meanwhile, is beating back Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) attack on its business with a new sticker-centric marketing scheme. The good news: Stickers are simple, and marketing in whole-system terms should make partners happy. The bad: Simple isn't always best, especially when it comes to a complex product such as a microprocessor.

Of course, marketing is an esoteric process, and change rarely comes quickly. That's why tech investors do best when they're patient. Look at David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by sticking with innovators. 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:

  • Tiny tech investor Harris & Harris this week set the schedule for its forthcoming "Meet the Portfolio Day" for Oct. 7 in San Francisco. Executives from 16 of its portfolio companies will be presenting.
  • Oracle CEO Larry Ellison proclaimed his company's commitment to the hardware business it's (possibly) acquiring from Sun Microsystems in a full-page ad in yesterday's edition of The Wall Street Journal. Ellison's money quote: "IBM, we’re looking forward to competing with you in the hardware business."

There's your checkup. 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. Intel, Pfizer, and UnitedHealth are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Apple and UnitedHealth are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of UnitedHealth Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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.