Welcome to week 65 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.

A turbulent week in the stock market led to a mild loss in my tech portfolio. Seems to be a recurring theme, doesn't it?

Not that the bears are growling just yet. The Dow once again passed 10,000 earlier in the week, and we've seen not only good economic data, but also a sparkling report form Ford (NYSE:F), which reported a $997 million profit.

We've also witnessed Warren Buffett make a huge bet on the American economy. His company is spending roughly $34 billion to buy the remaining 78% of Burlington Northern (NYSE:BNI) railroad it doesn't already own.

"Our country's future prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system," Buffett said in a statement. He went on to call Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-B) investment an all-in wager on a U.S. economic recovery. "I love these bets," Buffett said.

As an investor, I do, too. Buffett tends to be right a lot more than he's wrong, and there's plenty of bearish data to be worried about. For example, those hoping that the $3.4 trillion in money market funds sitting on the sidelines will soon be invested and lift equity prices should take a look at history. They might not like what they see.

But troubling data exists in every market. Buffett's vote of economic and market confidence is like hot chocolate and a warm fire on a freezing day; it banishes the shivers as it soothes the soul.

We should also remember that Buffett isn't buying Burlington Northern just because it's cheap. He's made a very long-term bet that we can learn from by striving for sustainable gains. How do we do that? By investing in sustainable businesses capable of enduring the market's oft-wintry breezes. This is the essential formula guiding our Million-Dollar Portfolio real-money service.

The week in tech
Tech also sees its share of stiff breezes. Not even Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is immune. For example, according to the early numbers, China Unicom's (NYSE:CHU) new iPhone isn't catching on with consumers as well as some investors had hoped: Only 5,000 handsets sold during its opening weekend.

This isn't surprising. China Unicom's iPhone not only lacks Wi-Fi, but also is more expensive than gray-market peers sold in local electronics stores, and which tend to find their way onto China Mobile's (NYSE:CHL) network. Apple and China Mobile have been negotiating an iPhone distribution deal intermittently since late 2007.

On the bright side, Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) -- a contestant in this year's scariest stock contest -- provided three good answers to questions lingering about its business when it reported third-quarter earnings this week. Sirius' subscriber count was up, revenue rose, and the profit and cash flow picture improved.

It's taken a while for Sirius XM to flex its financial muscles, but one of the great truths about tech is that overnight successes take years to develop and even longer to displace. Patience and diversification are the keys to tech investing gains.

Look at 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 success.

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

  • Late last week, Taiwan Semiconductor reported big sequential gains in revenue and earnings. But for founder and CEO Morris Chang, these latest results are the beginning of what he sees as a broader rally. "We expect 2010 to be a record year for TSMC," Chang told investors during a conference call. (Transcript at Seeking Alpha.)
  • Oracle, meanwhile, continues to battle the European Union over its proposed deal to acquire Sun Microsystems. CEO Larry Ellison has shown no signs of being willing to concede to the EU's concerns over Oracle's ownership of the open-source MySQL database, and the EU is still pondering whether to file a formal objection. This could get ugly. Soon.

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

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Akamai and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Apple and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Berkshire is also an Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Akamai, Berkshire Hathaway, 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 Berkshire Hathaway and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.