A warning about buying cheap dot-com stocks

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CHEAP DOT-COM stocks are no bargains," says Ulric Weil, technology strategist. "Many dot-com companies are burning through cash so fast that they will run out of it in a year. Firms with stock prices below $20 may risk bankruptcy. Self- defense: read research reports and company cash-flow statements to learn the `cash-burn' rate, the rate at which the company's cash from operations is being depleted."

HOME SWEET HOME: "There are good deals on home equity and car loans now that the Federal Reserve has again lowered interest rates," says Greg McBride, financial analyst. "Consider consolidating credit-card debt with a home-equity loan - interest is tax-deductible - and refinancing your mortgage."

TRAVEL TIP: "When traveling, take cash and credit cards. Though banks tell us to carry traveler's checks, you can avoid long lines at cash-changing places by carrying lots of dollars. Carry your cash and credit cards in separate pockets." (Gig Gwin, travel agent)

BE CAREFUL: "Tax scams are being peddled by 2,300 Web sites," says J. J. McNabb, financial planner. "Common scams: Claims that income tax is voluntary; `pure' trusts that allegedly shield money from taxes; offshore shelters. Self-defense: Ignore e-mail promising lower taxes and claims from obscure companies. If in doubt, see your accountant."

WALL ST. WATCH: "We're concerned about stock valuations - the S&P at 25 times earnings doesn't lie within areas usually associated with bear market bottoms. We're bullish long-term, neutral short-term." (Gerald Appel's Systems & Forecasts)

"The rebound in semiconductor stock prices probably is a beginning of a bottom formation, but it is unlikely to be the start of a major rally that will offset the enormous losses of the past year." (Edward Yardeni's Global Portfolio Strategy, in this week's Barron's)

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