Welcome to week 73 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers.

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai

$22.23

$26.48

19.1%

Harris & Harris

$6.22

$4.58

(26.4%)

IBM

$125.82**

$130.85

4%

Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL)

$22.58**

$24.68

9.3%

Taiwan Semiconductor

$9.81**

$11.10

13.1%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

3.82%

S&P 500 SPDR

$122.43**

$114.57

(6.42%)

DIFFERENCE

--

--

10.24

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

After a strong 2009 for my tech portfolio, Mr. Market threw the elbow to begin 2010, cutting into my lead by two percentage points.

Profit-taking could be partly to blame for my weekly loss. Tech stocks soared as Twitter and cloud computing dominated the 2009 headlines. With valuations as high they are economic uncertainty still in the air, investors can hardly be blamed for taking some money off the table.

Another possibility is that the broader market is benefiting from direct stimulus from the Federal Reserve investing directly in the likes of Citigroup (NYSE:C), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), and Goldman Sachs. Researchers at TrimTabs spent time trying to find the money flow required to sustain the sort of rally we enjoyed last year. They came up empty of any source, aside from the possibility of Federal Reserve action.

Short of an admission from Fed officials, we've no way of knowing if TrimTabs' theory is correct. Meanwhile, one of the industry's best-known prognosticators is bullish about the year ahead.

"Growth could come down when the stimulus wears off, but it doesn't go down," says Bob Doll, Chief Investment Officer of Equities for asset manager BlackRock. Doll was right on 11 of 12 predictions for 2009.

The week in tech
What's ahead for the digital world? A big fight in smartphones, it seems. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) last week unveiled Nexus One, an Android-powered smartphone packed with innards that make it faster than current editions of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry.

More than a few say that Google's choice to market the handset via the Web, where no one can touch it and play with it, is a huge mistake. Others, such as my Foolish colleague Anders Bylund, say the phone itself isn't the story; it's the strategy that matters. Nexus One represents mobile phone shoppers' first chance to taste network freedom.

Google's announcement came ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At the show, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer introduced new tablet PCs based on Windows 7, all due for later this year and none of which looks nearly as impressive as the Courier tablet that blogger Gizmodo showed us last year. Too bad.

But 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:

  • Last Monday, the creator of the MySQL database, Michael Widenius, sent a petition with 14,000 signatures from those who say they oppose Oracle's proposed $7 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Reuters reports.
  • On Friday, IBM launched a new financing business with Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) as its first customer. Dow Jones quotes Big Blue spokesperson Harriet Ip as saying the deal could bring in "hundreds of millions of dollars" in business for the company. Let's hope so.

There's your checkup. See you back next week when I review the year in tech.

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick, and Motley Fool Options recommends diagonal calls on the company. 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, 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.