Welcome to week 131 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai $22.23 $39.48 77.6%
Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY) $6.22 $5.89 (5.3%)
IBM $122.97** $162.28 31.9%
Oracle $22.37** $32.95 47.3%
Taiwan Semiconductor $9.35** $12.29 31.4%
AVERAGE RETURN -- -- 36.58%
S&P 500 SPDR $120.57** $132.33 9.75%
DIFFERENCE -- -- 26.83

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

Chalk up another loss to Mr. Market. That's three weeks in a row. In that time, I've given back 942 basis points of outperformance. Ouch.

I'm one of many with portfolios suffering at the altar of Mideast volatility. After three weeks of gains, the major stock indexes lost ground over the past week. Interestingly, the biggest stocks were also the biggest losers as the Dow 30 fell 2.1%. The Nasdaq ended down 1.87%, while the S&P 500 fell 1.72%. The small-cap Russell 2000 proved to be a relative safe haven by comparison, down just 1.54%, CNBC reports.

Further losses could be in store now that data shows the market is no longer cheap. Meanwhile, escalating violence in Libya has helped to push oil prices to within spitting distance of $100 a barrel, taking a bite out of airline stocks in the process. All the majors lost to the index last week, but US Airways (NYSE: LCC) led the laggards, down 13.6%.

But what was the airline industry's loss was Big Energy's gain as oil and gas explorers rallied. Denver's Delta Petroleum (Nasdaq: DPTR) took top honors by rising 32.5% over the past five days. Other energy stocks to enjoy double-digit rallies included Duncan Energy Partners (NYSE: DEP) and Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE), up 26.5% and 18.5%, respectively.

The week in tech
None of the digital elite were so fortunate as to rally 20% or more, but tech nevertheless had its share of winners. Tops among the big names this week: salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM). Cloud computing's poster child wowed Wall Street with wonderful growth in the company's fiscal 2011 fourth quarter.

Revenue grew 29% to $457 million as platform offerings such as Chatter drew in 5,100 net new customers during the quarter. For the year, salesforce.com's customer count rose 27% to 93,200. The rise in sign-ups contributed to a 33% increase in deferred revenue, a measure of cash received from sales not yet booked as revenue. Shares of salesforce.com rallied above 10% briefly on Friday before settling in at a 3% gain.

Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM) was even less fortunate. Shares of the subscription genealogy site initially popped 13% but settled for a meager 1% gain after reporting impressive fiscal 2010 results. Revenue rose 34% while profits improved 49%.

Growth may slow in the year ahead, however. Management called for a 24% gain in its gross subscriber count during 2011, down from last year's 31%. So be it. Disruptive innovation isn't a symmetrical process. Remake an industry -- in Ancestry.com's, the increasingly popular study of family history -- and you unleash billions in market value.

But don't take my word for it. 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:

  • Nanotech investor Harris & Harris had a busy week. On Thursday, the company announced a $750,000 venture debt investment in Nano-Terra, whose tools and services help clients develop tiny tech solutions to commercial problems. That same day the firm announced a new $10 million credit facility for making similar debt investments. Canada's TD Bank will fund loans from the facility.

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

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Akamai, Ancestry.com, and salesforce.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakersstock picking team. He owned shares of 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. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM and Oracle. The Fool is on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.