Welcome to week 144 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers.


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai $22.23 $33.66 51.4%
Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY) $6.22 $5.65 (9.2%)
IBM $122.42** $167.50 36.8%
Oracle $22.33** $33.70 50.9%
Taiwan Semiconductor $9.35** $13.26 41.8%
AVERAGE RETURN -- -- 34.34%
S&P 500 SPDR $120.04** $133.51 11.22%
DIFFERENCE -- -- 23.12

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

After three consecutive weeks of beating the index, my tech portfolio fell 94 basis points as the market remained mostly flat. I'm still up more than 23% on average -- a great score -- but I've been unable to add meaningful distance for a while now. Times like these are why the phrase "trading range" was invented.

Small caps were the only stock style to make any real headway this week, as the Russell 2000 edged up 0.87%. Among the rest, the S&P 500 fell 0.16%, the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.23%, and the Dow ended off 0.56%, CNBC reports.

But these meager moves may not last. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index -- or VIX, as it's known -- remains above 16 despite an 8% pullback during the week. A higher reading on the VIX typically indicates fear of wild swings in the stock market. In this case, investors could be nervous about the Greek financial crisis, the politics and consequences of raising the U.S. debt ceiling, or any number of other issues Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner discussed with Politico reporter Mike Allen earlier this week.

Whatever the cause, the hunt for sustainable bargains is getting more difficult. But winners are still out there -- as there are with every market.  This week, Sequans Communications (NYSE: SQNS) led the leaders with a 68% run, fueled by interest in its LTE and WiMAX chipsets for smartphones.

The week in tech
Like so many of the sector's big gainers, Paris-based Sequans is a recent tech IPO. The company completed an offering on April 15, roughly a month before LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) infected the market with its special brand of IPO fever.

So many new tech issues are crushing the market, it's hard to keep up. Search engine Yandex (Nasdaq: YNDX) soared 55% on its first day of trading this week, in part because of how it dominates search in Russia in a manner similar to how Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) dominates search here (and in not a few emerging markets).

The rich market for tech IPOs has venture capitalists such as Facebook investor Peter Thiel talking about doing more to foster entrepreneurship. Thiel's foundation this week selected its first "20 under 20" list of would-be tech stars who'll receive $100,000 each to take two years away from college to work on what could become breakthrough business ideas.

Much as I love the spirit of what Thiel is trying to do -- fostering entrepreneurship among the most spirited portion of our population -- I think there remain plenty of good reasons for youth to continue with college, not the least of which is gaining some life experience before suffering the expense of the real world.

What's more, history tells us that dreamers come at every age. Whether 16 or 60, it's the men and women who combine big dreams with a passion to create that have led many of the market's biggest and most profitable shifts.

These are the Fools David Gardner follows. 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 venture capitalist Harris & Harris ended the week up 4.6% after Solarzyme (Nasdaq: SZYM), in which the company was an early investor, priced its IPO at $18 a share. The stock closed up 15% on Friday and consequently could be a double or better for the VC firm. In a statement, Harris & Harris said it owns 2,304,149 shares that it priced at $10.09 apiece in its March 31 portfolio valuation. Solarzyme is the second Harris & Harris portfolio company to go public in 2011.

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 Beyersis a member of the market-beating Motley Fool Rule Breakersstock-picking team. He owned shares of 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. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle, IBM, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Akamai. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.