Some Cheap and Risky Stocks

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I began trading cheap stocks -- below $5 a share -- in 2001. I've had some good years and some bad years. Over the 17 years, I'm down about $19,000. I initially invested $100,000, and I've got $81,000 remaining. I've subscribed to 30 or 40 low-price stock services, and it's been lots of fun. Most of these stock services brag ...Read more

'Helping' the Poor

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm active in my church, doing God's work for the poor and homeless, and we've done lots of good work. I've been reading you for 25 years, and none of your columns has spoken for the poor or homeless. We support a universal basic income. Could you discuss our work (narrative enclosed) with your readers and ask them for ...Read more

4 Blockbusters

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: We have a $262,000 portfolio that yields 5 percent, and we need those dividends to live on. Recently, our stockbroker had us take some profits and losses, and now we have about $60,000 in cash to invest. He recommended an annuity that would pay us 5 percent. But we've decided to take a big gamble to improve our return. We want ...Read more

AXA Equitable and Genworth

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: In 2009, we took a huge gamble and bought 4,000 shares of Genworth at $1.95 a share, and it's now $4.50. We should have sold this stock when it was in the teens but didn't because a trusted friend said it would recover and trade in the $30s as it did several years ago. My husband wants to sell the shares and put the money into ...Read more

Gift Tax and High-Yield Checking Account

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Our accountant told my wife and me that we can't gift more than $15,000 at a time without incurring a tax. I know there are more ways to skin a cat and hope that you have some thoughts on this.

Also, I recall reading somewhere in the past few days of a bank that pays over 4 percent on checking account balances. Could you please ...Read more

High on Realty Income

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker is very enthusiastic about Realty Income Corp. and has advised me to buy 400 shares. He is impressed with the company's growth in revenues and dividends and likes the fact that about 80 percent of the dividend received from this stock wouldn't be taxed. He says it would be considered return of capital. Didn't you...Read more

Would Gold Be a Good Addition to a Portfolio?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm an 86-year-old widower. Because of your advice six years ago, my $179,000 individual retirement account grew to a $257,000 IRA, and it pays dividends just under $12,000. Even though the dividends have gotten bigger each year, I'm losing money this year, and my account is down nearly $5,600 since January. Please review my ...Read more

Tesla Investments and Yield to Maturity Explained

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I recently bought $10,000 of Tesla stock, and I hope I didn't make a mistake, because it doesn't pay a dividend. I also intend to buy some of Tesla's 5.375 percent bonds, which are due in 2025. Ten of them will cost me $8,600, and they have a current yield of 6.25 percent. So my combined Tesla investments will yield about 3 ...Read more

Investing With a Spouse

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Since we sold our business and retired 11 years ago, our $768,000 individual retirement account has averaged 8.8 percent, including dividends. I'm proud of this performance because I manage the account. Some years were better than others, but we have been able to take out over $60,000 a year from our IRA without touching the ...Read more

Mutual Fund Recommendations

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My husband is an engineer with a secure job. I run the household, take care of our 12-year-old son and two dogs, make all the investment decisions for our retirement, and pay the bills. We're both 44. Our objective is long-term growth, and we have $53,000 to invest. I'm darn tired of reading Barron's, Fortune, The Wall Street ...Read more

REIT Recommendations

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Malls and shopping centers have fallen significantly in value. I want the names of six mall REITs selling below book value and six mall REITs that have comeback potential. Then tell me why you like them. And I want all of them to yield over 15 percent. I'll invest $10,000 in each. -- LL, Detroit

Dear LL: Things were so much ...Read more

Altria and General Electric

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker is recommending that I buy 400 shares of Altria ($23,200), the big tobacco company, because it pays nearly 5 percent. I told him that I'm not sure I would be comfortable owning stock in a company that sells cigarettes, which kill Americans. My ex-brother-in law smoked Marlboro cigarettes for 25 years and lost a ...Read more

The Silver Krugerrand

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm interested in an advertisement by the U.S. Mint offering silver Krugerrands for $79.95. This is the first silver Krugerrand ever minted by the South African Mint for the U.S. Mint. Because it's the first, do you think this will have value for collectors? And could you explain to me why a troy ounce of silver weighs more ...Read more

Weiss Research and Granite Point Mortgage Trust

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I made the mistake of writing a $198 check to Weiss Research for Larry Edelson's stock market advice. Weiss promised to return my money if I wasn't satisfied, but the publisher won't respond to my requests for a refund. I can't find a workable email address for Weiss Research or Martin Weiss. Please help me.

Secondly, my ...Read more

Should You Invest in a Disreputable Company?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I won't own stock in companies that sell guns, sell tobacco, sell liquor, poison the environment or cheat the American public as banks and health insurance companies have. My stockbroker recommended that I buy 300 shares of Pfizer. But I don't want to invest in a pharmaceutical company that is being sued for hundreds of ...Read more

Widow Gets a Free Lunch and Bad Financial Advice

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I've enclosed my check for you to review my portfolio. My husband passed away four years ago, and I'm now a 71-year-old widow. A lady friend and I attended an invitation-only lunch for seniors two weeks ago, which was very interesting. The speaker believes that in the coming years, we're going to have a stock market crash and ...Read more

Stay on the Iron Mountain

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: In early January 2016, I had a $16,000 certificate of deposit that came due and couldn't stomach the low yields. An accountant friend told me about Iron Mountain, which he hired to store the records for his practice. It yielded 8 percent, and I bought 400 shares at $25 on his recommendation. It went up to $41 in each of the ...Read more

Cat Bonds Explained

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Could you please tell me what cat bonds are and how they're different from other bonds? And could you tell me the name of the college that offers annuities yielding 10 percent? I'd like an answer without your usual abrasive sense of humor. -- SD, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Dear SD: Catastrophe bonds, or cat bonds, are inherently ...Read more

BDCs, Including Main Street Capital

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Please explain to me what a business development company is and how it works. Also, my brother, who is a certified public accountant, has recommended that I buy 1,000 shares of Main Street Capital. What do you think? -- SP, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Dear SP: Business development companies were initiated by Congress in 1980. The goal...Read more

Disney and Tesla

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: We bought $50,000 worth of the 5.3 percent Tesla bond in August 2017. Our stockbroker wants me to sell, take a tax loss and use the remaining money to buy 200 shares of Tesla stock. My wife is insistent that we buy 800 shares of The Walt Disney Co. We need your opinion. -- JL, Portland, Ore.

Dear JL: You've got a smart spouse....Read more


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