Welcome to week 71 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return





Harris & Harris (NASDAQ:TINY)












Taiwan Semiconductor








S&P 500 SPDR








Source: Yahoo! Finance.
*Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.
**Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

Once more, I have a double-digit lead in this contest. The last time I had this sort of lead it was early October, but the two periods aren't perfectly comparable. Two months ago, my portfolio was a net loser with each pick off by an average of 5.94%.

I've benefited from the rally, as have many Fools. But some have done better than others. Owners of Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI) have enjoyed triples. Marvel Entertainment (NYSE:MVL) is up nearly 76% during 2009. A big position in the comic book king's shares has helped to lift our family portfolio by more than 50% this year, more than erasing the damage caused by the 2008 Panic.

Of course, I've also had my share of blunders. Look at the table above. To say I was premature in betting on Harris & Harris is understating it. I'm still a long-term believer in the business, but my position in the nanotech venture capitalist bleeds a bright shade of red.

If I'm willing to wait for returns, it's only because I don't want to cut off a potential multibagger at the knees before it has a chance to run. Still, holding like this increases my risk of loss heading into 2010. The good news? I own shares of the tech stock that Fools say will be best in the year ahead: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

The week in tech
I'm not so sure the Mac maker will be the sort of massive winner next year as it was this year. Competition is getting fiercer, thanks in part to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). The Big G is reportedly planning to build and sell its own smartphone with help from Taiwan's HTC.

It's the business model rather than the handset -- called "Nexus One" -- that I think is the problem for Apple's iPhone business. If Google chooses to sell directly to consumers, as reports suggest, it'll take a crowbar to the traditional wireless telecom model, and could force AT&T and everyone else in the industry to reconsider whether any phone is worth subsidizing. If so, it could take a bite of Apple's healthy iPhone profits.

Google, meanwhile, has problems of its own. The search king last week bid at least $500 million to acquire Yelp, but the founders of this community site that aggregates reviews of restaurants, nightclubs, and other local establishments weren't willing to sell, TechCrunch reports. The Big G will have to turn elsewhere to add content to its mobile advertising platform.

That's how it works in tech: try, fail, fail again, and then, with luck, succeed brilliantly. 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 my tech portfolio, I will achieve similar success.

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

  • The European Commission is beginning to warm to the idea of Oracle buying Sun and keeping MySQL, saying last week it was "optimistic" about the prospects for some sort of deal. That's good news for shareholders. CEO Larry Ellison said he expects his company to earn $1.5 billion in additional profit in its first year owning Sun's assets.
  • Akamai peer Limelight Networks joined its rival in the advertising delivery business yesterday when it spent $110 million for EyeWonder. The content delivery networking (CDN) market is increasingly looking like a two-horse race, with BitGravity and EdgeCast as possible disruptors.

There's your check-up. See you back here next week when I review the year in tech.

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple, Marvel, and Whole Foods are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakers stock picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and stock positions in Akamai, Google, Harris & Harris, IBM, Marvel, 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 Oracle and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.