Opportunities await abroad, but S&P 500 is difficult to top

The Ticker

July 15, 1998|By JULIUS WESTHEIMER

WHAT MILEPOST or guideline should you measure your performance against?

"No two ways about it: The Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks has become the benchmark to beat," says Worth magazine. "Since March 31, 1995, the index has risen an average of 32.8 percent a year -- surpassing all but 139 actively managed stock mutual funds and turning 2,867 into laggards.

"It has been a performance that even a Warren Buffett or a Peter Lynch could envy."

Despite the uncertainty in foreign markets, Working Woman says investors should put some of their money into them. "Given the risk of foreign investing, it might be hard to follow many advisers' recommendations that you put 40 percent of your money in overseas stocks or funds. But studies show that you will suffer fewer jolts than with an all-American portfolio. A $5,000 initial toe in foreign waters is enough to start. You don't have to go global overnight."

If you want to protect yourself against possible "churning" by your broker, here's a warning from Physician's Digest: "Remember that no one cares as much about your money as you should. Get involved and understand your financial affairs -- do not delegate this responsibility to a broker, accountant, family, friend, etc. Read and understand monthly statements, looking for errors or omissions. Examine your buy and sell confirmations carefully. Ask your broker about anything you don't understand."

Barron's reports: "One longtime Wall Street bull has grown less rTC cheerful because he doubts the profit surge that many analysts expect. 'For the first time in 3 1/2 years, I'm cautious,' says Richard Bernstein, Merrill Lynch research director."

Pub Date: 7/15/98

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