Welcome to week 61 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.

That's two weeks in a row of losing to Mr. Market. Only this time, my tech portfolio got hammered -- losing more than four percentage points, the stock market equivalent of the 44-7 beating the New York Giants delivered to the Oakland Raiders yesterday.

The loss stings, especially since I was all too recently up more than 15 percentage points in this contest. But I won't cry about it -- unlike the wusses behind the "80 Million Strong" youth movement. They want legislation to stimulate the job market for recent college grads. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) don't qualify for starter jobs anymore, apparently. There's no telling what impact the 80 Million Strong movement will have, but The White House is more open to regulation than ever before.

On Tuesday, Fools will be meeting with the president's Council of Economic Advisers to ask questions and offer feedback on the role a new consumer protection agency might play in regulating banks such as JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and credit card issuers such as American Express (NYSE:AXP). Click here to tell us what you think we should be asking about.

The week in tech
If Washington, D.C. stole the national spotlight last week, Washington state stole the tech spotlight from Silicon Valley. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) lowered the price for its Kindle e-book reader to $259 and introduced a $279 international version, presumably to better compete against the Europe-tested iRex.

Competition hasn't typically been a worry for satellite radio, and for the most part, it still isn't. Terrestrial radio is on the decline, and the iPod and iPhone, even with the free Pandora streaming music service, have yet to offer a pure alternative to Sirius XM's (NASDAQ:SIRI) programming lineup. So why are executives selling so many shares? And why now, with the stock still trading for less than $1 per share?

Finally, Mr. Softy's Bing search engine fell back to earth after enjoying some initial success in taking market share from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Last week, researcher Hitwise found that Bing suffered a 5% decline in market share from August to September.

Sometimes innovative upstarts turn tech's titans into also-rans, stuff for history's scrap heap. Other times, as in Bing's case, innovators face a long road. That's why tech investing is best practiced in a diversified, patient manner. 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. With these five tech stocks, I believe that I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!
Now let's move on to the rest of today's update:

  • Harris & Harris last week priced a secondary offering at what some observers said was a preposterously low $4.75 per share. They have a point, sort of. Harris & Harris had been trading near $6 a share at the time of the news. Why sell low? The trouble is that no underwriter would agree to price a secondary at a 40% premium to Harris & Harris' last stated net asset value (NAV) of $4.27 per share. At $4.75 per share, Harris & Harris gets needed capital at what seems to be a modest premium to NAV, just as the IPO and private equity market is showing signs of life.
  • IBM needs to defend itself against -- get this -- antitrust inquiries made by the Feds last week. Better get yourself a good lawyer, Big Blue.

There's your checkup. See you back here on Friday for more tech stock talk.

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Amazon and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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