Welcome to week 63 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 Aug. 7, 2008.
**Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

By the numbers, I suffered another loss, but I'm down only four basis points from last week. This feels more like a draw than anything else.

And I have good reason to be happy about my real-money returns in this and the rest of my portfolio. For one thing, CalPERS isn't involved. Former higher-ups at the nation's top pension fund may have hurt returns by indulging a cozy relationship with a placement agent, who made millions by connecting fund managers to the cash in CalPERS' abundant coffers.

But let's be fair. CalPERS isn't the only organization to pay for bad performance. A legion of executive cowards has reaped huge pay packages for virtually nothing in return.

Seriously, how do Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) Ken Lewis and CIT Group's (NYSE:CIT) Jeffrey Peek get away with free, personal use of their company's corporate jets while torching shareholder equity?  Why does Talbots' (NYSE:TLB) Trudy Sullivan deserve bonus pay to offset vanishing retirement benefits? Pay for performance shouldn't be simply a platitude.

Too often, it is. There are more graduates of the Dan Snyder school of micromanagement than there are disciples of Warren Buffett's practiced leadership in allocating capital for the long-term benefit of his company and its shareholders. So long as this remains true, the market will remain volatile, and my returns will be anything but predictable.

The week in tech
And yet the tech earnings season continues to bring more good news than bad. On Monday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) blew away estimates when it reported 25% higher revenue and a 44% year-over-year gain in per-share net income. The shares briefly touched a 52-week high of $208.71 yesterday.

Of course, not all the tech earnings news was good. eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) once more reported shrinking marketplace revenue, and PayPal isn't growing as fast as it used to. EMC (NYSE:EMC) reported flat year-over-year profit. Wall Street wasn't impressed.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), meanwhile, this week introduced Windows 7 to very high expectations. And that's good. PC fans need a reason to forget Vista, even if longtime users like my friend and fellow Fool Rick Munarriz promise to cling to Windows XP.

Color me unsurprised by Rick's decision. One of the great truths about tech is that overnight successes and overhyped new platforms take years to develop, and even longer to displace. Patience and diversification are the keys to success.

Look at Fool co-founder David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on a broad portfolio of innovators, and holding for the long term. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with these five tech stocks, I will achieve similar gains.

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

  • On Wednesday, the European Union expressed disappointment in Oracle's response to its request for evidence that it would avoid potential competitive problems in its proposed $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. We've few other details, but my read is that the EU is going to insist that Oracle sell or spin off MySQL.

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. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool owns shares of Oracle.

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