Fifth Third Bank Is the Pits

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: In March of this year, I bought 300 shares of Fifth Third Bank at $34, but it hasn't gone higher, even in this bull market. The shares have just continued to go down in price, while most other banks in the Midwest have risen in value. I've got a 27 percent loss. Would you recommend that I buy another 300 shares? -- PS, Columbus...Read more

Is GoPro Stock a Go?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: GoPro looks like fun. Our neighbor's son showed us photos for over an hour (a little too long) of his skiing trip, and some of the video looked fantastic. He says GoPro is the latest trend, and our 32-year-old son and his wife may buy a GoPro device. What can you tell us about the stock? I'll buy 2,000 shares or so at $4.91 if ...Read more

McDonald's Is All Good

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: What are McDonald's largest competitors? They've got to be what's damaging McDonald's revenues, which, according to Morningstar, have been declining every year since 2013. How can McDonald's compete with all the new franchises selling hamburgers, fries and shakes? And how can stock analysts continue to recommend McDonald's when...Read more

Fitbit Stock

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm going to buy my wife a $225 Fitbit watch for Christmas. I'm also looking at the stock, which sells for about $5 a share. Do you think buying 1,000 shares of the stock would be a good investment? -- CL, Springfield, Ill.

Dear CL: Fitbit (FIT-$5.30), during the summer of 2015, traded at over $50 a share! And the number of ...Read more

A Different Investment Philosophy

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: This market frightens the heck out of me, and I'm scared my $263,000 individual retirement account will go up in smoke. I'm 42. Is there any way to avoid scary downturns? -- SS, Springfield, Ill.

Dear SS: No!

It concerns me, too, but not nearly so much as it concerns you and hundreds of thousands of others who're reluctant to...Read more

Investing in Mary Jane

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Three other people and I own a small company. We've been in business together for 14 years. We have a large 401(k) plan, in which we equally share, and I've been managing it since we took it over from an adviser in 2011. And it has done very well since. I decided to invest $60,000 in several marijuana-related stocks and told my...Read more

Investing in British Banks

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Most American banks have recovered from the Great Recession. But banks in the United Kingdom have not. I have $30,000 to invest, and I'd thank you for a recommendation of three British banks for my individual retirement account. -- LB, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Dear LB: A few hours in a flying machine will take you across the pond to ...Read more

What to Do With GlaxoSmithKline and Geron Stock

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: In 2007, I invested almost $10,000 in 165 shares of GlaxoSmithKline. The share price was $59 then. It hasn't been $59 since. How can such a large, important pharmaceutical firm perform so poorly? Please tell me whether I should buy more, hold or sell. When I asked my stockbroker what to do, he said, "Seeing as Berko told you ...Read more

Time for an Adviser Switch

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Eighteen years ago, when my wife and I were 50, we sold our business for $4 million after taxes. We took $1.7 million in cash plus $110,000 a year for 20 years. Our intent was to live on the $110,000 each year and then sign up for Social Security at age 70 and begin taking dividends and principal from the money invested in ...Read more

Buy AT&T, Verizon or Both?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'm torn between investing $50,000 in AT&T and investing $50,000 in Verizon. My Merrill Lynch stockbroker is much more bullish on AT&T than he is on Verizon. However, the adviser who runs my retirement account at Northern Trust prefers Verizon. I have equal respect for both men and need you to be the arbiter. I also could ...Read more

Forever Stocks

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I'd like to thank you. We used the pro bono lawyer you recommended in 2012. It took a long time to settle, but he got our 16-year-old son more than we expected -- about $140,000 -- and our only cost was his firm's expenses, about $17,000. How could he have afforded to do this?

Could you please help us again and advise us on how ...Read more

College Education Not Worth It

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My husband and I are in our 30s and make about $87,000 a year. We have a 10-year-old son, and we want him to go to college and become a doctor and make a good living. We're told a bachelor's degree will cost at least $125,000 in 2027. That's terrible. What can we do? Our son isn't brilliant. He works hard but gets B's and C's. ...Read more

Andeavor May Be Worth the Risk

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me what you can about Andeavor Logistics. Would this be a good stock to buy 200 shares of for a long-term hedge against inflation and the cost of living? -- BD, Austin, Texas

Dear BD: This is a speculative stock, but in my opinion, ANDX is a diversified midstream pipeline company that has a 73 percent degree of ...Read more

Uber and Zoetis

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker insists that Uber, which is valued at $120 billion, will come public in the second quarter of 2019. He doesn't have a price yet but promises he could get at least 100 shares at the initial public offering price. He says the stock could double on the first day and thinks I should buy more shares as the price runs ...Read more

Wright May Be Wrong

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me about Wright Medical Group. Because of its development of artificial cartilage, my stockbroker is recommending that I buy 1,000 shares on margin. I owned stock in the company at $31 in 2008 and took a huge loss. Unless you approve, I'm reluctant to invest in Wright again. -- CB, Kankakee, Ill.

Dear CB: Wall ...Read more

3 Unknown Stocks Explained

Business / Taking Stock /

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

Capitalism Should Be Taught

Business / Taking Stock /

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

Ol' Dominion

Business / Taking Stock /

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

The Rule of 72

Business / Taking Stock /

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

Broker Gives a Bad Telecom Recommendation

Business / Taking Stock /

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


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