McDonald's and Verizon

Business / Taking Stock /

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...Read more

CVS or Walgreens?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I can't make up my mind whether to buy 500 shares of CVS or 500 shares of Walgreens. -- PW, Wilmington, N.C.

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 ...Read more

Invacare Is an Exception

Business / Taking Stock /

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...Read more


Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Business / Taking Stock /

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, ...Read more

The Spinning UTX Is a Keeper

Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Various Responses to Readers

Business / Taking Stock /

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.

In response to a question from Moline, Ill.: Over the past few dozen years, plaintiffs' lawyers have asked me to ...Read more

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Baby Bonds

Business / Taking Stock /

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. ...Read more

Art by Kinkade and Hockney

Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Blue Apron and Bank of America Corporate Accounting

Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Take a Flier With J.C. Penney

Business / Taking Stock /

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 ...Read more

Hire an Adviser

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Please don't use my initials or city, because my comments might encourage the local school board to fire me. A dear aunt passed away last March, leaving me two pieces of property, which I sold for $620,000. I am in my 40s and finally have the means to quit my stinking teaching job, which I'll do in June. I and most other teachers...Read more

General Electric, Changing Brokers and Deutsche Bank

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: What do we do with 1,300 shares of General Electric, which we bought at $31? Our stockbroker says we should hold them. My wife says sell. And I don't give a (nasty word) what we do.

That broker, whom we've had for 12 years, is leaving J.P. Morgan and going to another firm we've never heard of. He'll be working out of his house. ...Read more

Bond Prices

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: I have eight long-term maturity bonds from eight different public companies, each with coupons between 5.5 percent and 5.65 percent. They are all rated BBB, which is still bank-quality, and I paid about $10,000 for each bond. My stockbroker wants me to sell these bonds because he believes interest rates will go up to 10 percent ...Read more

The Eye of the Fire

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: About four years ago, I bought 200 shares of FireEye at $53, and two months later, it had fallen to $33. You said to sell it because the underwriters were a "crock of crooks" and told me it wouldn't have earnings for years. Why were you so down on the stock? Last week, you told a friend of mine who sent you an email about FireEye...Read more

Don't Invest in China

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: My wife and I are thinking of investing in Chinese stocks or mutual funds. If we were to buy stocks, we'd invest $10,000 each in Alibaba, Noble Group, Ping An Insurance, ICBC and HNA Technology. If we were to buy mutual funds, we'd invest $10,000 each in Templeton China World Fund, Fidelity China Region Fund, Invesco Greater ...Read more

A Think Tank's Guaranteed Income or Pfizer?

Business / Taking Stock /

Dear Mr. Berko: Palm Beach Research Group, a financial think tank in Florida, is offering a plan called FS2081. The folks there say it's unknown to the public but guaranteed to pay me $11,384 a month. This plan is used by members of Congress to supplement their retirement income and has been paying them and knowledgeable investors monthly ...Read more

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


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