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Steve Kim, an equity-derivatives analyst at Merrill Lynch, has closely studied the past performance of stable-growth stocks. Kim compared the returns of the 500 largest-capitalization companies with a portfolio of stocks with the lowest volatility in earnings in the food, drugs, and tobacco industries. His research showed that the stable-growth stocks outgained the 500 large caps by 2.25 percent a year from January 1970 to February 1996, with only slightly more risk.




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.) 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." 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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Perhaps that last $1,100 of your $98,000 income is investment income that you don't currently need. If so, you might reduce your marginal tax rate to 28 percent by switching from that income-paying investment into a growth investment that generates minimal dividend income, like an equity index fund. You wouldn't owe taxes on the increase in the value of your index fund shares until you sold them-at which point, if you'd held the fund for a year or more, you'd owe a long-term capital gains tax, now capped at 20 percent. Perhaps that last $1,100 of your $98,000 income is investment income that you don't currently need. If so, you might reduce your marginal tax rate to 28 percent by switching from that income-paying investment into a growth investment that generates minimal dividend income, like an equity index fund. You wouldn't owe taxes on the increase in the value of your index fund shares until you sold them-at which point, if you'd held the fund for a year or more, you'd owe a long-term capital gains tax, now capped at 20 percent.

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October is one of the particularly dangerous months to speculate in the stock market. Other dangerous months are July January September April November May March June December August and February Mark Twain

Why the turnaround in investor attitude? Low unemployment, minimal inflation, solid wage growth, and a friendly stock market all combined last year to fuel consumer spending. Whether that trend will continue is a hotly debated point; indeed, many economists now view the consumer as a wild card. If the stock market fails to shower investors with double-digit gains, Americans might make fewer trips to the mall, dampening economic growth. 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." Perhaps that last $1,100 of your $98,000 income is investment income that you don't currently need. If so, you might reduce your marginal tax rate to 28 percent by switching from that income-paying investment into a growth investment that generates minimal dividend income, like an equity index fund. You wouldn't owe taxes on the increase in the value of your index fund shares until you sold them-at which point, if you'd held the fund for a year or more, you'd owe a long-term capital gains tax, now capped at 20 percent.

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People think Im disciplined. It is not discipline it is devotion. There is a big difference.

For superior long-term performance, shop the market for food, drug, and beverage stocks

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