Welcome to week 137 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:
|Harris & Harris||$6.22||$5.17||(16.9%)|
|S&P 500 SPDR||$120.04**||$132.86||10.68%|
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
* Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.
** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.
At least I didn't lose by much this week. Mr. Market clawed back 12 basis points in our three-year contest. He'll have to do better than that, though. I'm up more than 20 percentage points with less than four months to go in this three-year contest.
Even so, there's no such thing as a safe lead in investing. All four of the major indexes turned south after weeks of rallying. The small-cap Russell 2000, which just a week ago was up more than 8% for the year, lost 1.01% and is now up 7.3% year-to-date. The Nasdaq, down 0.56%, performed second worst while the Dow fell 0.24% and the S&P 500 suffered a slight 0.04% loss, CNBC reports.
Blame Congress for the retreats. Lawmakers couldn't agree on a budget compromise, and up until late Friday night it seemed as if a shutdown of the federal government was inevitable. A last-minute deal between party leaders keeps the doors open for a week, but none of the (ahem) compromises addresses the long-term issue of funding entitlements. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a plan, but its underlying assumptions read more like a fairytale than a reasonable narrative for achieving fiscal austerity.
So problems remain. And yet some stocks were unwilling to submit to Mr. Market's pessimism. Would-be SodaStream
The week in tech
If only Silicon Valley's stalwarts were growing as fast. Data networking stalwart Cisco Systems
CEO John Chambers knows that frustrates shareholders. Two weeks ago, he instituted a dividend policy to reward those who've been uncommonly patient. This week, he apologized for underperformance in a somewhat apoplectic memo to employees. He promised only platitudes -- bolder decisions, stricter discipline, and to not fix what isn't broken. Whatever that means.
As Chambers was promising bold decisions, Texas Instruments
Finally, as the Valley says goodbye to National Semi, pundits and investors are taking a second look at another of tech's elder class: Seagate Technology
Let this be a lesson, Fool. Young companies aren't the only ones to introduce disruptive innovation. Techies of every since deal in the business of breakthroughs, and unleash billions in stock market wealth in the process.
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.
Now let's move on to the rest of today's update:
- IBM's researchers have developed a way to target difficult-to-eradicate bacteria with what amounts to a nanotech smart bomb. I know that sounds nuts. What the heck is Big Blue doing in the biotech business, anyway? The difference here is IBM has been and still is one of the world's foremost authorities when it comes nanotechnology. And besides, cranking out patentable (and royalty-inducing) innovations is a long-standing tradition for the company. This is just the latest.
There's your checkup. See you back here next weekend for more tech stock talk. In the meantime, don't forget to keep up with my tech portfolio by adding these stocks to your watchlist today:
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, Oracle, and Texas Instruments and has created a bull call spread position in Cisco. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.