Saggy portfolio may need some water

The Ticker

August 21, 1998|By Julius Westheimer

SUGGESTIONS for improving your financial health:

WATER WORKS: Are you looking for income and growth? "Water utilities offer high yields, monopoly protection and -- for the first time -- outsized growth prospects," says Roger Conrad, editor, Utility Forecaster. "Our favorite stocks are American Water Works Inc., United Water Resources Inc., Philadelphia Suburban Corp. and Southwest Water Co."

MORE FOR YOU: Here are suggestions to improve your 401(k) plan: "Put as much money as possible in your 401(k), look for hidden fees, try to persuade your firm to match employee contributions, find out about your 401(k) borrowing terms, diversify your mutual fund choices and examine your rollover options if you leave your present job." (Power Lunch, CNBC-TV)

WHAT'S NEW? To stimulate lagging sales of U.S. savings bonds, the government starts to sell on Sept. 1 an "inflation-indexed" version. Similar to 10- and 30-year inflation-indexed Treasury bonds now available, these smaller-denomination savings bonds guarantee your return will also outpace the rising cost of living. You can buy these for as little as $50. See your bank for details.

TIMING OFF: "The more volatile the market, the more we see less-experienced investors try to 'time' the market, hoping to buy at lowest prices and sell at the top. Instead, they generally sell when stocks are falling and buy when shares shoot up." (Sheldon Jacobs, editor, No-Load Fund Investor)

QUICKIES: Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. appears under "Favored Electric Utility Stocks" in S&P Outlook, Aug. 12. "With dividend yield of over 5 percent, shares are attractive for income-oriented investors."

"Consider companies that retain earnings rather than distribute them as dividends. Instead of buying high-income stocks, you're better off -- especially taxwise -- owning stocks with low yield and high growth potential." (Bloomberg Personal Finance)

"For the first time, mutual fund assets have surpassed total bank assets." (Investment Co. Institute, an industry trade group)

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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