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Moreover, when Kim measured the return of stable-growth stocks and the broader market in different phases of the economic cycle (recession, recovery, and expansion) during the 26-year time frame of his study, the results were impressive. Stable-growth stocks had higher returns than the 500 largest stocks during periods of recession and expansion. In fact, the only time these stocks trailed the broader market was during times of recovery, when investors chased companies more likely to profit from an expanding economy. If you and your spouse have $98,000 a year in combined income, you may think that you're in the 31 percent federal tax bracket. The reality is more complex: you pay a 31 percent federal income tax only on the last $1,100 you earn. In fact, your marginal tax rate is 31 percent, but most of your income is taxed at 15 percent or 28 percent. For superior long-term performance, shop the market for food, drug, and beverage stocks The 98-year-old retailer has seen its earnings increase in each of the past 24 years. In the past five years, the company's earnings per share have nearly doubled. No wonder investors have flocked to Walgreen, sending its stock up 88 percent last year; during the past decade, shareholders have earned about 30 percent annually. Walgreen's stock traded at 56 times earnings in early February, a multiple 66 percent higher than the average Standard & Poor's 500 stock, which itself carries near-record price-to-earnings ratios. For superior long-term performance, shop the market for food, drug, and beverage stocks




The U.S. economy may not have to nosedive for stable-growth stocks to come back in vogue. A slight change in investors' perception could do the trick. The economy grew 3.8 percent in 1997 and 4.1 percent last year. Most Wall Street economists expect about 2.5 percent growth this year. Though this is a reasonable level by historical standards, it could be enough of a change to alarm investors. Chicago Fed president Michael Moskow refers to this possibility as the Sammy Sosa syndrome. "For years, Sammy Sosa hit 30 to 40 home runs, a good performance," Moskow said in a speech this January. "Last year, he hit 66-an extraordinary performance. If he hits 40 this year, some will say he had a bad year. It's a case of unrealistically high expectations."

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What makes this group of stocks so interesting at this point in time is that they perform especially well when the economy is slowing. An economic downturn was precisely what many investors were betting on from 1995 through 1997. Consequently, Kim's portfolio of stable-growth companies rose 44 percent in 1995, 26 percent in 1996, and 42 percent in 1997, outpacing the S&P 500 in all three years. For a married couple filing jointly in 1996, the 28 percent federal rate kicked in for amounts over $40,100; the 31 percent tax rate applied to amounts over $96,900; the 36 percent rate applied to amounts over $147,700; and 39.6 percent was levied on amounts over $263,750. (Federal tax brackets are adjusted at the end of each year for inflation.) Despite the risks that accompany high valuations, there are compelling reasons to include stable-growth stocks in a portfolio. These stocks have outperformed the market over long periods; they deliver better returns than any other type of stock during an economic slowdown; and since they're companies worth holding on to, a portfolio of stable-growth stocks typically requires little trading activity, a distinct advantage for taxable accounts. The U.S. economy may not have to nosedive for stable-growth stocks to come back in vogue. A slight change in investors' perception could do the trick. The economy grew 3.8 percent in 1997 and 4.1 percent last year. Most Wall Street economists expect about 2.5 percent growth this year. Though this is a reasonable level by historical standards, it could be enough of a change to alarm investors. Chicago Fed president Michael Moskow refers to this possibility as the Sammy Sosa syndrome. "For years, Sammy Sosa hit 30 to 40 home runs, a good performance," Moskow said in a speech this January. "Last year, he hit 66-an extraordinary performance. If he hits 40 this year, some will say he had a bad year. It's a case of unrealistically high expectations." For a married couple filing jointly in 1996, the 28 percent federal rate kicked in for amounts over $40,100; the 31 percent tax rate applied to amounts over $96,900; the 36 percent rate applied to amounts over $147,700; and 39.6 percent was levied on amounts over $263,750. (Federal tax brackets are adjusted at the end of each year for inflation.)

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More... Despite all this the Budget is likely to be less than satisfactory. The reason is that everything that our leaders and their pet economists have been saying in recent months smacks of more than a hint of complacency with the performance of the economy. If the economy is doing well, what is the need, let alone urgency, to take hard and unpopular decisions? Where particularly will the political will to make major changes come from when the country is only 12 to 18 months away from the next general election? The complacency is not entirely inappropriate. It is true that the economy has not exactly fared well in the past six years. But three years of having to survive in an economy in which demand is stagnant , competition from imports is increasing, and investment ׀ the prime mover of demand has been falling and falling, has made Indian industry leaner and meaner in a way that few could have envisaged five years ago. The performance of large and medium industry in the first three quarters of the current financial year gives ample proof of the change that has occurred. While overall industrial growth has been a paltry 5.3 per cent, corporate profits, especially for the larger companies have soared as perhaps never before. In a sample of 1,700 companies, 908 of them, accounting for 82 per cent of total production, have recorded a 66 per cent jump in their net profit over the same period of last year. What makes it especially creditworthy is that these profits have come at a time when, thanks to the flat consumer demand, companies have competed fiercely with each other through price cutting and have passed on most of the benefits of their greater efficiency to the consumer. What's my marginal tax rate?

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IN a few days, India's finance minister Jaswant Singh will present his very first Budget to the country. The emphasis of this Budget will be on reducing the fiscal deficit both at the Centre and the states. Despite the risks that accompany high valuations, there are compelling reasons to include stable-growth stocks in a portfolio. These stocks have outperformed the market over long periods; they deliver better returns than any other type of stock during an economic slowdown; and since they're companies worth holding on to, a portfolio of stable-growth stocks typically requires little trading activity, a distinct advantage for taxable accounts. Moreover, when Kim measured the return of stable-growth stocks and the broader market in different phases of the economic cycle (recession, recovery, and expansion) during the 26-year time frame of his study, the results were impressive. Stable-growth stocks had higher returns than the 500 largest stocks during periods of recession and expansion. In fact, the only time these stocks trailed the broader market was during times of recovery, when investors chased companies more likely to profit from an expanding economy. Moreover, when Kim measured the return of stable-growth stocks and the broader market in different phases of the economic cycle (recession, recovery, and expansion) during the 26-year time frame of his study, the results were impressive. Stable-growth stocks had higher returns than the 500 largest stocks during periods of recession and expansion. In fact, the only time these stocks trailed the broader market was during times of recovery, when investors chased companies more likely to profit from an expanding economy.

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