Welcome to week 90 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








S&P 500 SPDR








Source: Yahoo! Finance.

* Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.

** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

Benjamin Graham was right. Mr. Market is, in fact, the street-corner drunk who shouts at the rain for stealing his balloons. Just look at what happened last week.

In a matter of minutes on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,000 points -- its largest single-day drop ever -- thanks to what may have been a computer glitch. Or a trading error. Or an evil plot executed by melon-ball wielding aliens.

In simpler terms: We don't know what the heck happened.

You'd think Mr. Market's caffeine shakes would be a cause for concern in Washington, D.C. This, after all, is what financial reform is supposed to help prevent, right? Congress is supposed to be fixing the structural flaws that caused 2009's financial Chernobyl because our debt-driven economy may not withstand another market meltdown. You'd think real reform was coming, and you'd be wrong.

Congress is only making matters worse. Not only did lawmakers vote down the SAFE Banking Act -- which would have ended "too big to fail" by limiting how big banks could get -- but also they gutted provisions for rescuing large institutions when they fail.

Call it the "No, we don't mind if you destroy everything, just so long as you get rich, Mr. Banker" Act. Un-freaking real.

The week in tech
But if media reports are to be believed, the Feds won't stop with the banks. They may also be looking at Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department are reportedly in negotiations over who gets to investigate the Mac maker's policies for creating smartphone software. Apple has come under fire from developers for placing restrictions on what tools and technologies they may use to create software for the newest iPhones, an effort that seems partly aimed at Flash technology and partly at cross-platform software development.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), meanwhile, may draw an FTC antitrust lawsuit. According to Bloomberg, the regulatory agency's staffers have an issue with the search king's acquisition of AdMob. They seem to think Google's dominance in search advertising on the PC will extend well into the wireless realm. Perhaps, but a win is anything but assured. As Foolish colleague Eric Jhonsa points out here, Apple is challenging Google with its iAd platform and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has its own mobile search deals with Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).  

Uncertainty is the rule rather than the exception in tech investing; innovation is the source of as many busts as winners. And yet 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:

  • IBM last week said it would commit resources to gather and analyze data that may lend clues about how to improve human health. The project will be based out of Big Blue's research hub in Silicon Valley and will focus on child obesity initially.
  • Though overshadowed by bigger tech headlines in recent weeks, investors shouldn't forget that Akamai soundly beat analyst estimates for revenue and profits in reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings recently. Delivery of high-definition videos for the Winter Olympics and other major events added gust to Akamai's tailwind.

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. Apple is a Stock Advisor selection and Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. 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.