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
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
Dear Mr. Berko: I've been offered an opportunity to invest $125,000 in a Florida bamboo farm. Please tell me what you know about this industry. Also, could you give me your best estimate about when the next recession will be? -- WB, Destin, Fla.
Dear WB: In 2010, a Floridian whose family had been growing acres of oranges for several ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker had me buy 300 shares of General Mills in the summer of 2016, for which I paid $71 a share. In the past 12 months, I've had a 29-point loss. I never thought that a blue chip company such as General Mills could fall by 40 percent in a year. My new broker wants me to buy 300 more shares of General Mills and sell my...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My wife and I have two questions. Could you please tell us the difference between entitlement spending and discretionary spending? Could you give us examples? Also, could you explain the difference between our national debt and our deficit? Please try to do this without using complicated economic terminology so we don't have to...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: On your advice, I didn't buy stock in GoPro in 2015, when it was trading at $56. And about a year later, it fell to $8. But as it recovered and rose to $16, my stockbroker had me buy 1,000 shares. It immediately fell to $10. I sold it and took a 6-point loss. Now it's about $5, and he's advising me to buy another 1,000 shares. ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Almost a year ago, we bought our first home, which has an enclosed pool. We never expected that a pool would require so much work. After months of cleaning it, we decided to buy a pool cleaner. We bought one from our neighborhood hardware store, and it works like a charm. We're delighted with it, and it saves my wife and me from ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I've lost money buying several stocks in the robotics industry. It seems that they go up when I don't buy them and go down when I do. I bought Intuitive Surgical shares at $398, and a month later, the stock price fell by 30 points, so I took a huge loss. I bought Zebra Technologies shares at $111 and sold them at $80 three ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My stockbroker is recommending that I buy 1,000 shares of Patterson Companies Inc. The stock yields 4.6 percent and has increased the dividend every year since it began paying dividends. He says the stock has hit bottom at $23, and he believes that this would be a good long-term investment because management is turning the ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: What do you think of Enterprise Products Partners? I want to buy a good income stock (at least 6 percent) with a safe dividend that should increase each year. A stockbroker suggested this stock, and I'd appreciate your opinion. Also, I am on an anti-plastic bag campaign and would like to sell a stock short that makes these ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I want to own a bank stock. I am very conservative and don't care for risk, so I'm thinking of buying 200 shares of Bank of America, which has been doing business for over 50 years, as a safe investment. What do you think? -- PR, Erie, Pa.
Dear PR: Thanks to founder A.P. Giannini, the Bank of Italy was San Francisco-born in ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I bought Rite Aid stock at $6 in 2015, thinking the rumored buyout by Walgreens would give me a nice short-term profit. Could you explain to me what happened to the stock? Does Albertsons or Walgreens own Rite Aid? Do you think I will ever break even? -- HL, Oklahoma City
Dear HL: Albertsons, a large nonpublic grocery chain, ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: I have a large portfolio of conservative issues that pay good dividends. Now I'd like to be more aggressive and own some issues that could improve my portfolio's growth better than the dividend stocks I own. I just want some more upside in my portfolio.
The economy is improving, and that's good for the airline industry, so I ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My husband and I are both 73 years old and in excellent health. Both of us retired 10 years ago from Monsanto, and we get a nice pension. We discovered your column about nine months ago. You don't write like other stock advisers. Your common sense and humor appeal to us. We don't own any stocks. All our cash ($535,000) is in ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: We have a $17,000 certificate of deposit coming due and are thinking of buying 300 shares of Southern Co. because of the 5.3 percent yield. We found that the stock has fallen by 9 points in the past three months. What do you think? -- LW, Kankakee, Ill.
Dear LW: Southern Co. (SO-$43.82) dominates the power business across the ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: You've never expressed your political opinions. Some of us had hoped you'd comment on Donald Trump's presidency. You've made many pointed comments about the House and Senate, but you have never commented about our country's political direction. I and others in my area would like to read your comments.
Next question. My ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My 84-year-old dad is not well and was a very avid reader of your column until he got sick. He would send your columns to me every week with comments. Two years ago, he had a stroke. According to his brokerage statement, he owns two stocks: 400 shares of Citigroup and 3,000 shares of MGIC Investment Corp. In January 2009, he ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: Could you comment on the changes in tax law that affect alimony payments? As a soon-to-be-divorced 52-year-old man, how do they affect me? I will take a huge hit after we sign our divorce papers, though fortunately, it's a friendly divorce after 26 years and three kids. I have taken a powder in the market and need to be more ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: My spouse and I are both in our early 60s, and we have $10,000, with the hope of being able to get an 8 to 9 percent return. I know this may be a high reach because we don't want to own any volatile issues. If there is such an animal that could give us this return, with moderate risks, we'd be very appreciative. -- PC, Akron, ...Read more
Dear Mr. Berko: In 2009, when I was 78, I had $70,000 in cash to invest long term for my grandchildren. I wrote to you for advice after my stockbroker had me invest $10,000 in each of the following stocks: Signet Jewelers at $6, Costco at $44, Macy's at $12, Sears at $69, Bed Bath & Beyond at $23, Fossil Group at $14 and Hibbett Sports at $15....Read more