Welcome to week 83 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM)




Harris & Harris












Taiwan Semiconductor
















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

Tired of taking a beating from my tech portfolio, Mr. Market put up strong enough numbers to take back two percentage points from me in this contest.

Good economic data provided much of the tailwind. Also helping was -- surprise! -- the Federal Reserve. Much maligned by Fools for keeping interest rates artificially low, the nation's central bank apparently won't raise rates until we've achieved a full economic recovery.

But that could take years, and in that time the U.S. government will spend billions for health-care reform that was signed into law this morning by President Obama. We won't know the real per-household effects of this legislation for a while, but if there are savings to be had, it could act as a long-term stimulant.

In the meantime, the Senate is considering a broad-based financial reform package authored by outgoing Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd. But as my Foolish colleague Matt Koppenheffer writes, the bill wouldn't change regulatory conditions enough to prevent another financial crisis.

Doesn't exactly sound like a pristine environment for investors, does it? Nope.

The week in tech
What this means for tech stocks is a lot less clear, but we know that more than a few top techies are under assault. Take Palm (Nasdaq: PALM). Last week, the company disappointed investors when management predicted just $150 million in fourth-quarter revenue. Putting this in perspective, $150 million is less than half of what the Street was expecting and 43% of the $349.9 million in revenue Palm booked for Q3.

My Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz doesn't see Palm heading to zero, but I'm not so sure. There's no immediate need for Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), or any of the company's other rivals to spend excess cash to buy Palm outright, and the company's investors -- especially Elevation Partners -- are likely to demand more than any suitor would be willing to pay right now.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has more than enough problems of its own. The Big G made good on its promise to stop censoring Chinese search results, opting instead to operate its Sino search site out of Hong Kong, only to find many searches blocked by Chinese government firewalls.

Finally, and as expected, Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) received a warning letter from the Nasdaq that it could be delisted if the stock doesn't recover to more than $1 a share. But it won't happen. You don't boot one of your index's most active stocks -- a business capitalized at more than $3.3 billion -- over a technicality.

So why is the Nasdaq rattling its saber? Because penny stocks are risky and Sirius, while not your average penny stock, has the share price of one.

Sirius investors are betting that the rewards for investing at current prices more than outweigh the risks. It'll be some time before we know whether they're right or wrong, but we know from history that a diversified portfolio of disruptors can create massive amounts of wealth.

Look at David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on a collection of innovators, and then holding them 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:

  • After a strong rally over the past several weeks, a Citigroup analyst downgraded shares of Akamai on the basis of valuation, Barron's reports. I'd agree over the short term, but with the company cutting prices and winning big accounts, I'd have no problem buying for the long-term at these levels.

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. 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 owned shares of 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.