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ick your poison: Internet bubbles o r currency devaluations. An economy that's growing too fast or headed for a sudden downturn. Though the bulls are still stampeding, the market is increasingly volatile. It's enough to turn even daring investors into more conservative ones, forsaking Wall Street's exotic fare for a diet of more consistently dependable stocks, venerable companies like Walgreen, the Deerfield, Illinois-based purveyor of food and drugs. What's so special about a company that peddles cookies and aspirin? Regardless of whether the economy is booming, busting, or doing something in between, people get hungry and have headaches. At Walgreen stores, the product keeps moving off the shelves. Businesses that sell things people desire or need no matter how the economy is faring are known as stable-growth companies because they're able to deliver steady profit increases year after year. Although examples exist within many areas of commerce, Wall Street has traditionally defined stable-growth companies as those producing beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco-staples that consumers keep buying in good times and bad. And here's another Wall Street tradition: Once a maker of one of these products starts showing dependable earnings growth, its stock often richly rewards investors who hold on for the long term. 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.




What's so special about a company that peddles cookies and aspirin? Regardless of whether the economy is booming, busting, or doing something in between, people get hungry and have headaches. At Walgreen stores, the product keeps moving off the shelves. Businesses that sell things people desire or need no matter how the economy is faring are known as stable-growth companies because they're able to deliver steady profit increases year after year. Although examples exist within many areas of commerce, Wall Street has traditionally defined stable-growth companies as those producing beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco-staples that consumers keep buying in good times and bad. And here's another Wall Street tradition: Once a maker of one of these products starts showing dependable earnings growth, its stock often richly rewards investors who hold on for the long term. What's my marginal tax rate? More...

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On the other hand, if your marginal tax rate is low, investing in tax-exempt municipal bonds doesn't really make sense for you. If your marginal tax rate is 31 percent, earning 5 percent interest tax-free is like earning 7.25 percent in a taxable investment. If your marginal rate is only 15 percent, a tax-free 5 percent is worth only as much to you as 5.88 percent in a taxable investment. You might earn more in Treasuries, which are free of state and local taxes-and safer than municipal bonds. 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. Smart Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisers Smart Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisers

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During the last six years, about 8.4 million persons have come of employable age every year, but less than three million have found jobs of any kind, anywhere. None, repeat none have found jobs in the organised sector of the economy. Here the total employment has been falling steadily since 1999 and if the latest estimates are anything to go by the rat of decline may be accelerating as industry downsizes in the face of competition. This is a tragedy on an epic scale, and on which if not prevented will soon end whatever little law and order is left and plunge the country into a bloodbath of insurgencies. The reason why there are no jobs is that there is no industrial growth. On the other hand, if your marginal tax rate is low, investing in tax-exempt municipal bonds doesn't really make sense for you. If your marginal tax rate is 31 percent, earning 5 percent interest tax-free is like earning 7.25 percent in a taxable investment. If your marginal rate is only 15 percent, a tax-free 5 percent is worth only as much to you as 5.88 percent in a taxable investment. You might earn more in Treasuries, which are free of state and local taxes-and safer than municipal bonds. Smart Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisers Or if you want to stay invested for income, you might consider a tax-exempt municipal bond fund instead of a taxable corporate bond fund. More... 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.

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What's my marginal tax rate? What's my marginal tax rate?

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