Welcome to week 84 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.

A good week for all was only slightly better for my tech portfolio, which means I get to preserve my double-digit lead in this three-year contest. I like the trend, mostly.

What I fear is the global economy's reliance on stimulants. Consider China. Last week, officials from the country's commerce ministry admitted that revaluing the yuan could wipe out thin profit margins for its exporters. The implication? China's $1.2 trillion export industry, led by industrial manufacturers, could be in trouble, or worse, a bubble waiting to pop.

Here in the U.S., the Federal Reserve remains committed to keeping interest rates low, even if it means inflating another asset bubble. Don't believe me? Take a look at the recent comments from former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan.

"Unless there is a societal choice to abandon dynamic markets and leverage for some form of central planning, I fear that preventing bubbles will in the end turn out to be infeasible. Assuaging their aftermath seems the best we can hope for," Greenspan wrote in a 66-page rant about the economy.

Translation: Better to clean up a mess than try to prevent a mess in the first place. Because, you know, that's worked out really well so far. Anyone else wondering if Bob Woodward, a Greenspan biographer when not playing investigative journalist, regrets calling this guy "maestro?"

The week in tech
Were I invested in nothing but hard goods importers, I'd be cashing out my portfolio and heading for the Denver underground. Fortunately, I'm mostly invested in growing tech companies with resilient balance sheets.

Also, I'm unaware that Denver has an underground of any kind. Just saying.

From the underground to the underhanded, Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) tops this week's roundup of tech news. The retailer decided to offer The Blind Side for rent a full 28 days before Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) or Redbox.

It was a rare coup for Blockbuster, which benefited from an earlier arrangement between Warner Home Video, Netflix, and Redbox owner Coinstar. Both companies traded a waiting period -- the aforementioned 28 days -- for additional copies and lower prices. Blockbuster gets dibs on paying viewers of The Blind Side in the meantime.

We won't have to wait much longer for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, which debuts this weekend. All signs point to early sellouts of the device, similar to what we've seen with other flavors of Apple's iCandy (i.e., iPhone, iPod).

Will consumers pick up demand where the fanboys leave off? New research from comScore is encouraging. Of 2,176 e-reader owners and potential buyers surveyed, 15% said they'd be buying an iPad vs. 14% for Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle. That's a big win for Apple. Not long ago, most of us considered the Kindle franchise unassailable.

Meanwhile, Foursquare is building a franchise of its own using celebrities. The location-based social network last week introduced Celebrity Mode, where Joe and Jane Average get to stalk ... errrr follow ... celebrities using the service. Jersey Shore co-star DJ Pauly D was one of the first to sign up, though Viacom plans to have several of its MTV and VH1 reality stars use the service.

Call it one of the many ways social media is disrupting the status quo. That's good; history shows that owning 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:

  • Former IBM executive Robert Moffat pleaded guilty to insider trading charges on Monday. He's the 11th person to do so, Dow Jones reports, and could face six months in prison. He could also get zero jail time; sentencing isn't until July. An unidentified Akamai executive had also been ensnared in the case, in which tipsters helped hedge fund operator Galleon Group illegally generate millions in profits.

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. Amazon, Apple, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. 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, 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 S&P 500 SPDRs and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.