Withholding tax review is good idea at midyear

The Ticker

July 19, 1994|By Julius Westheimer

The Dow Jones industrial average recovered from a 15-point early-morning loss yesterday and managed a slim gain. Following bonds higher, the Dow index edged up 1.62 points to close at 3,755.43. Many investors remained on the sidelines, awaiting Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan's appearance on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

Speaking of stocks, here's good advice: "The single most important rule about successful investing is to avoid taking a big loss. Dollar-cost averaging -- investing a set amount of money at fixed time intervals -- is the investor's best approach to long-term investing. This strategy prevents that big loss by eliminating the impossible task of guessing when to buy." (Dick Davis Digest.)

TAX-SAVER: "Midyear is an important time to review and adjust your withholding tax situation. Strategy: Project your total income for the year and adjust your withheld and estimated tax payments accordingly. If you overpay your taxes, you're making an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. If you under pay, you risk tax penalties." (Tax Hotline, July.)

SENIORS, BEWARE: "Many crooks are especially fond of preying on senior citizens. Self-defense tips: Say 'no' to anyone who calls and asks you to send money, or urges you to buy anything sight unseen . . . Never reveal your credit card number to anyone you don't know . . . Refuse to be hurried. If the offer is good only if you act now, hang up . . . If you have any doubts, call the National Fraud Center, 800-876-7060." (Dollar Stretching Ideas.)

LOCAL OPTIMISM: The Rothschild Co. says, in part: "While short-term stock market psychology is clearly negative -- only 27 percent of advisers are bullish -- there are compelling reasons for pTC optimism: The economic environment should be very beneficial to the stock market . . . American productivity has been increasing faster than that of any major world economy . . . If productivity continues to increase, the U.S. economy can grow without inflation . . . We continue to find high quality 'Mid-Cap' companies which sell at attractive valuations." For a copy of the full letter, phone 539-4660.

HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "If you're job-hunting through an executive recruiter (head-hunter), don't be casual in the interview, don't evade questions by responding, 'You can find that in my resume,' don't fudge that resume by saying you held good jobs that you didn't hold and don't demand a superstar salary." (National Business Employment Weekly, July 10-16.)

IT PAYS TO SHOP: "Because premiums vary widely, failing to shop by phone for life insurance can be costly. For instant term life quotes from a free service that scans 150 company rates, contact Quotesmith (800-556-9393). Another free service is provided by The Wholesale Insurance Network (800-808-5810." ("The Individual Investor's Guide to Low-Load Insurance Products" by Glenn Daily.)

MONEY SAVER: "If you and your spouse's estate is over $600,000 -- and your home is most of it -- consider adding 'tenants-in-common' to the deed. This sets up a 'credit shelter trust,' and more of your assets will pass to your children. Reason: When the second spouse dies, half the home's value will be sheltered by the trust and will be exempt from estate taxes." (Martin Shenkman, New York attorney.) Discuss this topic with your attorney or tax person.

JULY JOURNAL: This year, dividends on stocks are expected to climb 6 percent, better than last year's slim 2 percent gain -- and much higher than the inflation rate . . . "Our customers are our No. 1 sales force." (John Scully, former CEO, Apple Computer) . . . The Kiplinger Washington Letter says that lawmakers are intent on cutting tax deductions such as mortgage interest, health benefits for workers, state income taxes, etc.

SILVER LINING: "Woolworth's first-quarter report read like a funeral invitation, but there's good news. The firm now expects a strong rebound and will expand its Foot Locker chain in the U.S. and abroad. This blue-chip stock, which has paid 328 consecutive dividends for 82 years, should be a major turnaround and could double or triple over two to three years." (FXC Investors). Ticker Note: This "Dow 5" stock, now about $16 a share, sold for $25 last year and $36 a few years ago.

MARYLAND MEMOS: The T. Rowe Price International Stock Fund, showing a one-year gain of 23.8 percent, is listed under "Diversifying Abroad: International Juggernauts" in Personal Finance, July . . . Adrian Dey, in his Annapolis-based "Investment Analyst," says, "This is a good time to pick up high- quality utility stocks that have fallen indiscriminately with the rest of the utility sector. We particularly like FPL Group, Duke Power and Scana." . . . "If you predict, predict frequently." (Frank Cappiello, Baltimore-based mutual fund manager.)

WALL ST. WATCH: Edward Riley, highly-successful chief investment officer, Private Bank of Boston, said on "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" last Friday, "I'm a contrarian. My favorite stock now is severely depressed Merck, followed by other pharmaceuticals. I also like depressed utilities."

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