The Web-click metrics morass

It has been accepted “as gospel” that Google’s paid click rate is down 12 percent since October, says Chris Wilson in Slate. And this accepted truth has gotten Google “killed on Wall Street.” But the numbers, from Web-traffic monitor comScore, are at best “unreliable and opaque.” ComScore, like Nielsen in TV, doesn’t really count clicks; they “extrapolate” data from volunteer “panelists.” In other words, they make “an educated guess”—at least “as far as we know.” For investors to make rational choices, comScore and other Web statistic firms have to be more open with their “data and methodologies.” Until they do, “an investor would be better off ignoring them.”

Marks of a good mutual fund

The world of mutual funds is a “quagmire of money-losing tricks and traps,” says Marshall Loeb in MarketWatch, but you can still find a safe and profitable place to park your earnings if you are “patient and persistent.” You should look for funds that have a tight, well-chosen portfolio of “perhaps 30 to 40 stocks,” rather than one that has “scattered its shots.” Examine a fund’s 10-year history, rather than just Lipper or Morningstar benchmarks, which “make every fund look better.” And seek out generalist fund managers who don’t turn over stocks much, talk about finding out-of-favor companies, and “eat their own cooking”—“if a manager won’t invest in a fund, why should you?”