Taking Stock from Creators Syndicate https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 15 Nov 2019 06:39:10 -0800 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Taking Stock from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/taking-stock-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock 7e9a30a877927209c7fb58e80d0e3ada The Lowdown on Edwards Lifesciences for 03/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/03/19/the-lowdown-on-edwards-lifesciences Wed, 13 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I took your advice on AT&T. I'm holding my nose and reinvesting the dividends on 800 shares. I also bought 500 shares of Edwards Lifesciences at $22 in 2009 and have a huge profit. Is this a buy, sell or hold? &#8212; NL, Wilmington, N.C.</p> <p>Dear NL: <span class="column--highlighted-text">You're a darn smart lady.</span><p>Updated: Wed Mar 13, 2019</p> 1d68a742b41f5fe60799e37ecec51b64 Keep AT&T for 03/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/03/19/keep-att Wed, 13 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I'm a 41-year-old happily married woman with two boys. Before my dad passed away in late 2008, he invested $60,000 and bought 2,300 shares of AT&T at $26 a share for me. He told me to keep it for the rest of my life and said it would be the icing on my retirement cake if I reinvested all the dividends each quarter. That was over 10 years ago, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased from about 10,000 to over 25,000 since then. But my AT&T investment has only doubled in value, and I am automatically reinvesting the dividends. My original 2,300 shares of AT&T have grown to 4,000 shares, worth about $120,000. Two stockbrokers my husband and I have talked to want us to sell all of the shares because AT&T is a "slow-to-no-growth stock" with little future to help us in retirement. Frankly, AT&T's share price is hardly higher today than it was when Dad bought it for me.</p> <p>` One of the brokers, from church, wants us to put this money in six growth mutual funds (list enclosed) that have earned an average of 11 percent a year since 2008. The other broker wants us to buy two annuities. One would be a bond annuity and be very safe with little risks, while the other would be a growth annuity with good potential for long-term growth but with risks. Please advise us on what to do. &#8212; HG, Moline, Ill.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 13, 2019</p> d595997e3251eaba51dcbc879ceadd5b Cheap Stocks for 03/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/03/19/cheap-stocks-b019e Wed, 06 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I'd like to speculate with about $30,000 and buy six or seven stocks selling for less than $10. Could you recommend some cheap issues that have a chance of doubling in price over the next few years? I won't blame you if they crash. &#8212; KM, Wilmington, N.C.</p> <p>Dear KM: Here are seven names that were found in Bernie Madoff's back pocket when he was arraigned. <span class="column--highlighted-text">If these issues crash, blame Bernie, not me.</span><p>Updated: Wed Mar 06, 2019</p> 572dc1ad19497bfb4425cc75dcbaa2e5 Buy More Apple? for 03/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/03/19/buy-more-apple-83def Wed, 06 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker had me buy 200 shares of Apple last November at $221. His firm has a bullish report that says Apple will turn back to my purchase price in the coming six months, and he wants me to buy 200 more shares. I'd appreciate your thoughts. &#8212; BG, Akron, Ohio</p> <p>Dear BG: Your broker may be vaping too much THC. Why did CEO Tim Cook sell 265,000 shares last August at $217?<p>Updated: Wed Mar 06, 2019</p> ca00802578d10866e24fb16336a3ca13 AT&T or Apple? for 02/27/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/att-or-apple Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I bought 500 shares of AT&T at $32 in 2012, and I'm losing money. I should have sold the stock in 2016 when it hit $44, but my stockbroker talked me out of it. Now I want to sell it and buy 100 shares of Apple, which is way down from its high price. My broker is adamant that I keep AT&T, and he doesn't care for Apple. I'd appreciate your opinion. &#8212; LG, Akron, Ohio</p> <p>Dear LG: Kudos to your wise broker. I recommend that you follow his advice.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 27, 2019</p> 3837d35e699c31e13fea2477451c5f9b CenturyLink Doesn't Seem Promising for 02/27/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/centurylink-doesnt-seem-promising Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I'm looking for higher yields, and my stockbroker is recommending that I buy 500 shares of CenturyLink. It pays a wonderful $2.16 dividend that yields about 17 percent. Sometimes the dividend exceeds the company's net income. For example, last year, CenturyLink earned only $1.10 a share but paid a $2.16 dividend. How can a company continue to pay dividends that are more than its earnings? My broker tells me that when a company's earnings don't cover the dividend, management takes the money from cash flow. This is confusing to me. What is cash flow, and how does this work? &#8212; LB, Waterloo, Iowa</p> <p>Dear LB: <span class="column--highlighted-text">I think your broker is smoking too many of those left-handed Luckys!</span><p>Updated: Wed Feb 27, 2019</p> d42c5974433549f149ae4f36f65fdd6b Buy Bristol-Myers Squibb for 02/20/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/buy-bristol-myers-squibb Wed, 20 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I'm interested in buying stock in Bristol-Myers Squibb because I'm told the company has a weight loss drug that will soon be on the American market. I know there are many weight loss drugs that promise the moon, but this one is supposedly a revolutionary drug with no side effects. It apparently eliminates cravings and is being prescribed by European doctors. Based on this, I'd like to buy 600 shares. &#8212; TK, Akron, Ohio</p> <p>Dear TK: Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY-$51) has a panoply of drugs with meaningless names, from Atripla to Zerit, but I didn't think that one is a revolutionary weight loss pill, so I called BMY in Princeton, New Jersey, and asked an "almost VP" whether BMY has such a drug in its formidable pipeline. He said, "Someone's yanking your chain." That'll disappoint our nation's corpulent cops, most of whom have bellies that flop over their belts. <span class="column--highlighted-text">A weight loss drug that eliminates a person's food cravings with no side effects would be blockbuster and a panacea for an overly obese America. And the share price of that lucky pharmaceutical company would jump over the moon.</span><p>Updated: Wed Feb 20, 2019</p> ecb2aef0c792229fd47aafec0c539bd9 Delta Stock May Perform Well, but It's Still an Airline for 02/20/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/delta-stock-may-perform-well-but-its-still-an-airline Wed, 20 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I just sold 100 shares of Procter & Gamble, which I bought at $91 in 2017. They're still $91 each. I'd like to buy 200 shares of Delta Air Lines because my UBS stockbroker recommends it. &#8212; PR, Kankakee, Ill.</p> <p>Dear PR: If only you had waited a few weeks. P&G is now $99. And <span class="column--highlighted-text">your UBS broker is a bonehead. I'd never own an airline stock.</span><p>Updated: Wed Feb 20, 2019</p> 594236835de1d3998af1b8deaafec655 CVS or Walgreens? for 02/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/cvs-or-walgreens Wed, 13 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I can't make up my mind whether to buy 500 shares of CVS or 500 shares of Walgreens. &#8212; PW, Wilmington, N.C.</p> <p>Dear PW: CVS, which stands for Consumer Value Stores, began life in 1963 as a health and beauty aids chain with $863,000 in revenues. Based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, CVS Health (CVS-$67) completed its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna in November. Aetna was the third-largest health care benefits company in the U.S., with $60 billion in revenues. And <span class="column--highlighted-text">after all the elves, pixies and gnomes are found hiding in their respective coves and corners, the $69 billion purchase price could run a few billion dollars higher</span>. Aetna was among the nation's leading health care benefits companies, serving 47 million Americans. It directed their activities to promote better-informed outcomes (medical, pharmaceutical, dental and disability plans, etc.) while increasing our health care costs significantly each year.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 13, 2019</p> 7683c71acc6ac249b9a94c01e1154b73 McDonald's and Verizon for 02/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/mcdonalds-and-verizon Wed, 13 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker thinks that the recent viral confrontation between a McDonald's customer and a McDonald's employee will be used as an excuse to cause large strikes at units all over the country, in which employees will demand higher wages, health insurance, retirement programs and better working conditions. He believes that this could be the catalyst that will eat away at McDonald's profit margins. He's been telling me to sell McDonald's stock for over a year. Now he wants me to sell my 300 shares of McDonald's (I bought them at $88 in 2011) and buy Verizon stock because its good dividend and its acquisition of Yahoo make it a "great growth and income stock." What do you think? &#8212; NR, Moline, Ill.</p> <p>Dear NR: I discussed McDonald's in a November column, when it was trading at $180, and my positive opinion hasn't changed. Your broker is a total cretin who's begging for a commission. Keep the stock forever.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 13, 2019</p> b7b27d3cbb51b486fae0f62bcfa88323 SAIC and MO for 02/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/saic-and-mo Wed, 06 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I have 28 shares of Science Applications International Corp. in my account and don't know how they got there. If they're mine, should I keep them or sell them? I've changed brokerage firms six times in the past 12 years, and my current stockbroker thinks my old broker accidentally posted those shares to my account when I moved last year.</p> <p>I'd also like to buy 300 shares of Altria Group, which recently bought a large stake in Juul. Please give me your opinion of this stock. &#8212; JS, Akron, Ohio<p>Updated: Wed Feb 06, 2019</p> 2ec919441ac45338264d06eb00d0bf83 Invacare Is an Exception for 02/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/02/19/invacare-is-an-exception Wed, 06 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: About six years ago, you wrote that medical stocks and defense stocks are not so affected by the changes in our country's economy as mining, beverage, hotel and retail stocks are. So I bought 100 shares of Lockheed Martin at $73 and 200 shares of Invacare a few months later at $28. I have a good profit in Lockheed Martin, which is now about $300, but I'm down $24 with Invacare, which is in the medical equipment business. Should I buy more shares of Invacare at $5 or take my loss and sell my shares? And should I take my profit on Lockheed Martin, which traded at over $360 last year? &#8212; LG, Akron, Ohio</p> <p>Dear LG: Indeed, I did say that, and I'd say it again if you hadn't already done so. But that axiom doesn't apply to every company in the defense and medical businesses, and it's apparent that Invacare (IVC-$5.10) was one of last year's 273 (more or less) exceptions that imploded.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 06, 2019</p> f526398ad34c9ae61494648747cb0880 The Spinning UTX Is a Keeper for 01/30/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/the-spinning-utx-is-a-keeper Wed, 30 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: In 2008, I was 46. My husband passed away that year, and my 600 shares of United Technologies were selling at $43 each. I own eight stocks, United Technologies, which recently announced a spinoff into three companies. I'm now 56, and my stockbroker for the past 10 years, who was my husband's broker before he passed away, wants me to sell my United Technologies shares, which now trade for $103. He wants me to invest the proceeds in an annuity he said would make at least 8 percent a year.</p> <p>I wrote to you last month and asked you what to do, and you told me to forget the annuity and "keep United Technologies, the spinoffs and the other seven stocks for the rest of your life." My broker said you are wrong, plus some nasty things, and told me I won't be able to keep United Technologies anymore.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 30, 2019</p> 926d1402ec7a0b8cf1a8770efc5dabe7 Treatments for Prostate Cancer for 01/30/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/treatments-for-prostate-cancer Wed, 30 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: My husband of 34 years is a retired Marine colonel with prostate cancer, and the doctors told him that it is aggressive and could metastasize. I know that you know a lot about prostate cancer because you mentioned at a lecture in Gainesville that Johnson & Johnson had a new drug to treat prostate cancer. You told us your son, who is a doctor, keeps up on the latest treatments. Is there anything new that you could share with us? &#8212; RS, Gainesville, Fla.</p> <p>Dear RS: I'm told prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in men. Last year in the U.S., over 164,000 cases were reported, and so were about 29,000 deaths. Worldwide, according to the American Cancer Society, there are 1.1 million new cases annually and 310,000 deaths. That's a lot of potential pills. Meanwhile, the two pill companies your doctor should peruse are Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. Each has a new prostate cancer drug coming out soon, and each is a company I'd recommend, in a Minnesota second, for a long-term investment. However, other than this information, my son can't provide any personal advice or service. That's the provenance of your family physician.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 30, 2019</p> 95e6d4c5700bc8bb6a9623b089b51d94 The Future of Self-Driving Cars for 01/23/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/the-future-of-self-driving-cars Wed, 23 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I've invested $85,000 in five companies involved in the development and manufacturing of autonomous vehicles. Four of the five issues currently trade well below my cost basis. I am beginning to have doubts and wonder whether I should sell Aptiv, Volkswagen, Renault and General Motors. I'm profitable in Microsoft. What do you think about the future of autonomous vehicles? Should I dump my losses? &#8212; AK, Cleveland</p> <p>Dear AK: Sell them all. Driving an autonomous vehicle is like washing your feet with your socks on. And the cost to put one of these things on the road today would break the banking system. I believe that most investments in AVs will be future money losers.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 23, 2019</p> 4d1c61b1df4f3c589aa06177ee125d32 Various Responses to Readers for 01/23/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/various-responses-to-readers Wed, 23 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: The following are answers to recent letters received at my post office box from readers who did not include a stamped self-addressed envelope. I'll list the cities where the questions came from after my answers.</p> <p>In response to a question from Moline, Ill.: Over the past few dozen years, plaintiffs' lawyers have asked me to appear as an expert witness for investors suing brokerages because their salesmen allegedly sold unsuitable investments and thus caused the clients significant losses. I won't do the "expert witness" thing, because in my experience, most hearings are semi-fixed in advance of the presented facts. I've been in this business since 1963 and watched a lot of water go over the dam. Because I know nearly every way brokers can skin their customers, I know that 90 percent of the time, the brokerages and brokers are guilty as sin. Still, the brokerages and brokers almost always win.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 23, 2019</p> eca65f404729c4da356b2ec36ab14b25 Art by Kinkade and Hockney for 01/16/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/art-by-kinkade-and-hockney Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: I have four original oil paintings by Thomas Kinkade. I bought them about 25 years ago and paid over $6,000 for each of them. I love them, and it gives me great pleasure to look at them, but because I am moving to an assisted living facility and will have no room for these paintings, I need to sell them. I thought I'd at least get my money back and was shocked when the best offers I received were between $300 and $400 each. I cried for days. How could these beautiful works of art sell for such a pittance? I recently read in the paper that a really ugly painting by David Hockney just sold for $90.3 million. Anyone will tell you that Hockney's paintings can't hold a candle to the artistic beauty of Kinkade's paintings. Is there any way you could help me get better prices for my Kinkade paintings? &#8212; MG, Vancouver, Wash.</p> <p>Dear MG: Kinkade was 54 when he OD'd on an alcohol and Valium cocktail in April 2012. Known as the "Painter of Light," he was extraordinarily able to take bucolic, pastoral themes and idyllic subjects and give them the breath of life. Kinkade's work was so widely popular in the 1980s and '90s that several hundred Kinkade galleries were franchised around the nation to sell his signed prints and copies of his work. In the process, Kinkade mass-marketed so many pieces of art that some observers believe 1 in 20 American homes have a Kinkade on their walls. He was one of the few artists to become wealthy (with an estimated net worth of $70 million) while alive. His images appeared on jigsaw puzzles, greeting cards and calendars, and his works were sold by mail order at dedicated retail outlets. In fact, Kinkade masterfully employed Henry Ford's assembly line production system, using numerous studio assistants at special stations along the line so he could expedite the sales of his cavernous stockpile of work. He was so popular in Asia that mass-produced hand-painted fakes from China and Thailand were nearly as prominent in Asian homes as chopsticks.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> 495bc0b62cabcc18381ea458cd801da7 Baby Bonds for 01/16/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/baby-bonds Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: Every three months, I receive patent royalties. Last year, I received $3,877, $3,206, $2,135 and $3,440. I've had to buy low-paying certificates of deposit because the minimum corporate bond purchase is $5,000 and I never seem to get that much at one time. Now I have 14 different CDs paying between 1.1 percent and 2.3 percent. I know I could get 4 to 6 percent with good common stocks, but I don't want to own stocks because they are so unpredictable. I lost several thousand dollars investing in three oil master limited partnerships and two real estate investment trusts, which I was told would be safe high-income stocks. I even bought 75 shares of General Electric at $20, which was supposed to be a bargain, and now it's about $9 a share. Please tell me about corporate bonds and baby bonds. &#8212; TF, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.</p> <p>Dear TF: A corporate bond is a debt obligation &#8212; like an IOU &#8212; issued by a company in thousand-dollar increments and is evidence of a debt owed to the bondholder. The borrowing company issuing the bond uses the money for various reasons &#8212; e.g., expansion, inventory purchases, equipment, acquisitions, marijuana and stock buybacks. Investors who buy bonds receive regular payments from the issuing company until the bond matures. A corporate bond has a fixed interest rate, a specific maturity date and a face value of $1,000 when issued, which is the amount that's repaid when the bond reaches its maturity. However, <span class="column--highlighted-text">because few bonds trade transparently like a common stock (commission costs are embedded in a bond's purchase price), it's difficult to know how much you've enriched your broker</span>. For small purchases &#8212; those under $25,000 &#8212; 2 to 4 percent of the maturity value is the usual fee. That's $500 to $1,000 on a $25,000 face-value bond.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> 16e241b3eee2adc729952f994622e20d Take a Flier With J.C. Penney for 01/09/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/take-a-flier-with-jc-penney Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: In 2007, my stockbroker had me buy 100 shares of J.C. Penney at $73. Months later, he had me buy another 100 shares at $62. And because he was very certain it would recover, he had me buy 100 more shares when it had fallen to $47. Finally, in 2009, I bought my last 100 shares at $28, giving me an average cost of $52.50 per share. I still own the stock and want to know whether I should sell my 400 shares or buy the stock again at $1.36 a share. &#8212; HD, Bloomsburg, Pa.</p> <p>Dear HD: Wow! <span class="column--highlighted-text">I think your broker must have slipped into the gene pool when the lifeguards weren't watching.</span> I'm also wondering whether you joined him!<p>Updated: Wed Jan 09, 2019</p> 32ab776821989c1b7258af86d2121bed Blue Apron and Bank of America Corporate Accounting for 01/09/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/taking-stock/01/19/blue-apron-and-bank-of-america-corporate-accounting Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Mr. Berko: Blue Apron is $1.01 a share. Do you think there's any life left in the company that might warrant a purchase as a speculation? I may buy 25,000 shares if you think I could net a profit in the next six months or so. The commission at Charles Schwab would only be $9.90. My longtime stockbroker thinks I'm nuts. But the more important question is below.</p> <p>Recently, my family business had to borrow a large sum of money to purchase several pieces of industrial machinery, and my Merrill Lynch broker of 14 years seemed to resent the fact that I didn't consult with him prior to my purchase. It seems that Merrill brokers are being pushed by Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, to refer corporate business to it. Now my broker is encouraging me to turn the company bank accounts, including payroll activities (33 employees), over to Bank of America, even though everything is currently handled very well by our accounting firm of 11 years. I trust my broker. His investment advice is average, but I know he'd never recommend anything unless it would be to my advantage. That seems to suggest that moving our corporate accounts to Bank of America would be to our advantage. And the costs would be nearly 20 percent lower. What do you think? &#8212; CP, Joliet, Ill.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 09, 2019</p>