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Best columns: Value surfing, Retirement trust
Calling &ldquo;the bottom in a stock market crash is a fool&rsquo;s game,&rdquo; says Brett Arends in <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>, but there&rsquo;s &ldquo;value out there in the market&rdquo; now. I
 

If you’re looking to buy . . .

“Trying to call the bottom in a stock market crash is a fool’s game,” says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal. But that said, there’s some “value out there in the market” now. First, avoid financial stocks, even if they look like a good value. Nobody knows what they’re worth, and they probably have farther to fall. But if you screen for companies selling for less than 14 times forecast earnings and carrying dividend yields of more than 4 percent, you get a group of reasonable-looking “top quality blue chips”—long on telecoms, oil, and utilities, but also including some tech and pharmaceutical stocks. It’s folly to try and “time” the market, but if you invest in good companies at good prices, “you will usually end up happy.”

You want these guys in charge of your retirement?

About now I bet you’re relieved that Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and the other “financial wizards of Wall Street” aren’t handling your Social Security, says Chris Farrell in BusinessWeek online. Isn’t it also worth asking: “Should Wall Street manage any of our long-term retirement savings funds?” The 401(k) is now the main vehicle for retirement savings, but how reasonable is it to expect already-stretched-thin workers to wisely allocate their retirement assets? The “democratization of stock ownership” is and has been great for growth, but retirement is different. “Many people aren’t wired to invest well” and mutual fund managers tend to fleece individuals. Maybe we should explore if “the great 401(k) experiment has run its course.”

 

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