Welcome to week 92 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return





Harris & Harris












Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE: TSM)








S&P 500 SPDR








Source: Yahoo! Finance.

* Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.

** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

If there's a lesson to be learned from my tech portfolio's performance over the past few weeks, it's that holding fast in the face of Mr. Market's hyperventilating can be a winning strategy. By not acting, I've added two points to my lead in this three-year contest.

Others could learn from my patience. Take the 61 members of the United States Senate who last week voted to perpetuate the "too big to fail" phenomenon that helped to destroy billions in stock market wealth.

It's as if the AIG meltdown never happened. Today's "new" AIG and its Big Bank peers, including the face-rippers at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), have no reason to avoid taking the sorts of  outsized risks that led to the federal bailouts that have helped define the Great Recession.

This is the environment into which Warren Buffett is selling. Investors should take note; the Oracle of Omaha never sells quickly. And while he's made clear his reasons for selling a large bloc of shares in Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT), I doubt anyone would blame Buffett for seeking safer ground when nuclear-style bailouts can obscure the real price of risk, thereby making stocks harder to value.

Ratings agencies aren't helping much, either. As Foolish colleague Morgan Housel pointed out last week, Standard & Poor's reversed its Triple-A rating on some risky debt derivatives, now calling them "junk." A 180 in less than 365 days, you might say. Or, perhaps, a magical mystery tour of investing insanity. What's a Foolish investor to do?

The week in tech
Silicon Valley hasn't exactly provided a high-tech haven. One of my bigger holdings, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), has taken a beating this year despite showing noticeable improvements in its product portfolio.

Consider GoogleTV, unveiled last week at the annual Google I/O developer conference. Using an experimental technology that it calls Quick Search Box, which has won fans among Mac users like me, the search king will allow viewers to find programming wherever it may be -- whether on the Web or in the broadcast schedule. Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) will be among Google's early partners in delivering the service.

The Big G is also getting help from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). After months of saber-rattling, the Federal Trade Commission last week decided not to pursue antitrust action against Google over its $750 million purchase of the AdMob mobile advertising network. The federal agency said in its ruling that there's fresh evidence the Mac maker will be a serious competitor to Google in mobile advertising.

Give the FTC credit for showing foresight here. This ruling reflects a tech-investing truism: 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 over the long term.

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:

  • Like Google, Taiwan Semiconductor has suffered a sell-off even as the underlying business improves. Company executives recently approved $1 billion in new investments to expand capacity and build a new chip plant, Reuters reports. Mix in a fat 3.70% dividend yield and this stock looks as enticing as it ever has.
  • IBM announced a $1.4 billion acquisition of Sterling Commerce from AT&T. Look for Big Blue to continue eyeing smaller software outfits in the coming years as it leverages software acquisitions in helping it reach an ambitious target to double profits by 2015.

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. 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.