IN December -- historically Wall Street's strongest month -- where do you put your money? Here are several suggestions:
PROVEN RECORD: With no guarantees from Ticker, the December Smart Money claims, "Over six years our annual list of 'Stocks to Double' produced an average 154 percent gain the following year." The letter's 1998 candidates to double or more next year: Earth Sciences (mining, chemical extraction, Nasdaq); Isramco (oil exploration in Israel, Nasdaq); U.S. Gold (gold mining, Nasdaq) and Winspar (diamond mining, Vancouver.)
These are "penny stocks," issues selling for under $5 a share. Warning: Commissions on low-priced stocks can run high. Ask about fees before buying.
BIGGER FISH: Looking for income? Personal Finance, November, says, "Bring on the biggest. This list is for 'high income' investors, with wealth preservation also a major
concern." The "Income Portfolio" lists these companies, followed yield percentages: Bell Atlantic, 3.4 percent; Dominion Resources Inc. of Virginia, 7.0; Duke Energy Corp., 3.9; GTE Corp., 4.1; Hecla Mining Co. preferred, 7.4; New Plan Realty Trust, 6.0; Southern Co., 5.7; and U.S. Restaurant Properties, 5.2.
Although some above yields seem unexciting, note that the average Big Board dividend today is only 1.9 percent, a record low. All of the above stocks' yields outrun the current 2.9 percent inflation rate.
WANT MORE INCOME? Here are stocks that paid dividends for at least 50 years and boosted payouts annually for the last 10 years: Abbott Laboratories, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., Banc One Corp., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Campbell Soup Co., Gannett Co., General Electric Co., Gillette Co., H. J. Heinz Co., Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Mobil Corp., PPG Industries Inc., Seagram Co. Ltd., Stanley Works, Universal Foods Corp. and Warner-Lambert Co.. Ask your broker for reports.
ANOTHER ANGLE: "In the wake of the Asian currency crisis," says the Aden Forecast, "bonds are now the 'in' investment. And, since events are deflationary, that, too, is good for bonds. Overall, bonds provide the best of all worlds -- high yields, safety and possible appreciation."
DECEMBER DIARY: "Don't buy a mutual fund because it did well in the stock crash. Funds that gained during the four days when the Dow plunged 900 points are highly specialized, doing well only in sharp declines. Balanced funds are better." (Morningstar Inc.)
A reader asks: "Where did the term 401(k) come from?" The name comes from the section in the Internal Revenue tax code that authorizes the retirement savings plan.
"Investors are tilting toward caution. Between July and October, $29.3 billion of new money flowed into Growth and Income funds as opposed to $17.9 billion into aggressive growth funds." (Investment Company Institute)
"You know how to get over your fear of bear markets? Just say it's going to happen. Stocks go up and stocks go down. Long-term investors couldn't care less." (Roger Engemann, Phoenix Fund president)