January 30, 2008
The long shot to save Sears
The plan to turn around Sears by splitting it into five parts is “a recipe for intracompany strife,” says Jesse Eisinger in Portfolio.com. As the division heads fight for resources and autonomy, Sears needs “a top-notch retailing executive” to successfully manage the new “five-legged stool.” But with owner Eddie Lampert’s almost-certain “meddling,” that might be a tough sell. Plus, while Lampert’s earlier strategy to revive the company “hasn’t worked,” the new plan doesn’t mean he’s “given up his dream” of turning the company around intact. By the time he finds that “all roads eventually lead to asset sales,” it might be too late.
Testing your money maven
When you’re choosing a financial adviser, try a little “truth or dare,” says CNNMoney columnist The Mole. Yes, you should find an adviser you “connect with” and who has good references and a clean record. But then take the next step. Ask about their worst recent mistake, and be wary of “trivial examples.” Also, watch out for advisers who say they’ve “outperformed the market”—that means they’re timing the markets, which brings higher fees and lower long-term returns. And ask for advice on a broad index fund or ETF: if they recommend a fund with “an expense ratio of 0.5 percent or more,” walk away. “Your interests aren’t coming first.”
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