Dear Mr. Berko: When our father passed away about a year ago, he left my sister and me eight stocks. We have decided to keep the five utility stocks and continue reinvesting the dividends each quarter. Please give us advice on keeping or selling the other three -- Cincinnati Financial, Zogenix and Medtronic -- which we know nothing about. -- ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I don't need advice, but I feel I have to tell you of an experience that I was not prepared for.
In 2008, my employer sold his business and ended my pension plan. I took a lump sum of $161,000 at age 55. All of us were left hanging with big checks. My co-workers and I, knowing nothing about stocks, read recommended financial ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Back in the middle of 2014, I wrote and asked you to recommend a good utility stock for my 77-year-old mother. Mom had a $13,000 certificate of deposit that was coming due, and the interest rate on her renewal was terrible. Seeing as the women in my family have long lives, we wanted a utility that would regularly raise the ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Could you please explain how the rule of 72 works for growing the principal and income value in a stock portfolio? I've been out of college for nine years. I am 30 years old and have two children. My spouse and I have paid off all our debts (except for our house and car), and we're ready to invest. We don't want to be ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My partner and I seek long-term growth in conservative blue chip stocks. We are both gainfully employed in sales, and together we earn nearly $175,000 annually. After doing poorly in the stock market during the past two years, we decided to change stockbrokers and find a professional whom we could work with to build a solid ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I'm an 86-year-old retired steelworker. I am in good health and receive substantial retirement benefits. I've put three kids through college and been married for 62 years, and I'm proud to be an American. Our stockbroker has asked us whether we want to earn a safe 6.5-7 percent by buying pension bonds from the city of Chicago ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Last year, our handsome 31-year-old son finished his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida with a specialty in biology and ecology. We're so proud of him! He got a job down here in Florida at $38,000 a year, which is the most he could get. He loves his job because it keeps him outside and he gets to help animals.
Dear Mr. Berko: We bought 1,000 shares of Torchmark at $14, and after two splits, we've got 2,250 shares worth $88 each. We bought 1,000 shares of Universal Display at $22, and it's now $121. And we bought 1,000 shares of American Tower at $23, and it's now $146. We have other stocks with good gains, though not so good as those above. The ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I'm an officer at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where a group of us reads and discusses your column each week. Early this year, you wrote an interesting column about H&E Equipment Services. When I crunched the data in February, it looked strong on my technical charts. I bought 300 shares at $36, and in a short time frame, it ran...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: In 2011, I asked you about investing in CenturyLink because I needed the income. You wrote me: "Don't buy that junk. It has nowhere to go but down." It was $38, and the $2.90 dividend was yielding 7.4 percent. Certificates of deposit then were paying less than 1 percent, so I bought the stock at $38. It's now about $23. ...Read more
I have an opportunity to buy a $250,000 half-unit in a multiunit art-related limited partnership. A friend will buy the other half. The partnership will buy very expensive old masterpieces, and I've included the partnership papers for your review. Two other people we know are also investing and have checked out the general partners. What can ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Because of my husband's business, we recently had to buy a life insurance policy on him, and we decided to use Prudential. Unlike other life insurance salesmen we met, this man was very professional. He also advised us to buy 300 shares of Prudential stock, which yields 3.6 percent, because he believes that it could trade at $...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: When my dad passed away last month, he had a CEC Entertainment Inc. bond among his effects. I can't find any record showing its value. It's a $10,000 bond that comes due in February 2022, with an 8 percent interest rate. The only CEC I can find is a company that does building inspections, engineering work and surveying. The ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: We've had 250 shares of BWX Technologies in our account since early 2016. We bought them at $29. The stockbroker we trust, who built us a good portfolio over 11 years, disliked his firm and moved to another company. I didn't move my account, and it was given to a nice 30ish broker. This new guy wants me to sell BWXT. I have a ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker wants me to invest $10,000 by buying 400 shares of Energy Transfer Partners' 7.625 percent low-rated preferred stock, which sells for $25.33 a share. I can afford the risks of low-rated issues, and the income, which is my prime goal, looks very good. But I've never owned a preferred stock, so please tell me how ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Please give me your opinion of The New York Times. I may buy 400 shares. Also, what do you think of The Wall Street Journal? -- CA, Rochester, Minn.
Dear CA: Thanx to the internet, we've been watching the decline of the newspaper industry during the past dozen years. Sadly, too many publishers have passively accepted their ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I bought 100 shares of Tractor Supply Co. in June 2015, paying $95 a share. But it hasn't been there since. I know that the company's revenues and earnings have increased nicely since I bought the stock, but I watched the stock fall to $50 last year, and it's still a long way from $95. My stockbroker wants me to buy another 100...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: When Tesla stock was trading for $345, you told me to sell my 100 shares, which I had invested in at $96. I did. But within a few weeks, Tesla was trading at $386. You were persona non grata at our house. Now Tesla trades for $318. I need to know whether I should invest in it again. -- RG, Rochester, Minn.
Dear RG: There's a ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Our stockbroker wants us to invest about 20 percent of our $510,000 joint account in Chinese stocks. He has given us a list of 20 stocks to buy that sell for between $8 and $21 a share. I don't recognize any of the names (list included), but they're supposedly the best and biggest stocks on the Hang Seng index. Our broker is ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: What's the difference between exchange-traded funds and mutual funds? I just read your column on convertible bonds and noticed that you only recommended ETFs and didn't write about mutual funds. I bought $10,000 worth of Franklin Convertible Securities Fund in 2007, and it's worth about $17,000 today. I'd appreciate it if you ...Read more