QUESTION: What do you think of a company called Waddell Reed (WDR)? I've been investing in them for about 20 years and think they have done a pretty good job for me. — Dwight (Columbia City, IN)
SCOTT BLEIER: Waddell is a publicly traded financial services company that owns, manages and distributes mutual funds. They have a broad breadth of product offerings with about $42 billion under management. While they have few funds that have "knocked the cover off the ball," they have preferred admirably and are well-respected.
Without knowing which funds you own, it would be impossible to compare your funds performance to other fund families. The bottom line is that they are a quality investment management company and you could do much worse elsewhere.
There is something else you may consider: As I have mentioned, this is a publicly traded company & and the stock appears to be attractive from both a fundamental and a technical viewpoint. Additionally, many companies in the fund business are being bought by larger rivals. Perhaps an investment in your investment company's stock may be a good idea.
QUESTION: I am 87 years old, and own 15,000 shares of Seligman growth fund (SHGOX) that hasn't paid anything for three years. Is there any hope for it? Thanks — Darrel
SCOTT BLEIER: My first question is, why do you own a growth fund at 87 years old? You should probably not own this type of fund unless it is only a small percentage of your portfolio.
Your asset allocation should be virtually entirely in very safe investments, preferably ones that pay a healthy dividend. Do you think this fund pays a dividend? Based on your question, perhaps you think they do. Well this, as well as virtually all other funds in this category, do not pay dividends.
A growth fund attempts to maximize the potential for capital gains, therefore they take a higher than average level of risk in an attempt to outperform. This type of risk is usually not appropriate for someone in your demographic.
In the end though, there is good news. If you bought about three years ago, you bought near the bottom, and it is now trading at a multi-year high. That means you are almost assuredly making money. It would be wise for you to sell now and examine a safer type of investment.
QUESTION: I bought ELP last February at $5.33; it closed Friday at $10.75. (Thanks Jonathan!) Should I "cash in" or stay for the long term? — Jo Jo (Dallas, TX)
SCOTT BLEIER: You should definitely hold a portion of this stock. Jonathan Hoenig has a great track record of picking international stocks, and this one is a keeper.
This company has several powerful trends in its favor. It is a Brazilian power company and international investing is all the rage. Brazil's economy is doing better than it ever has. Also, big multinational utilities are buying other international utilities.
The wisest way to play this is to sell half and hold the rest. The stock closed at over $11 at the time of this writing and you are lucky enough to have more than doubled your money. Sell enough to get your original investment back and let the rest ride at no risk to you. Congrats!
QUESTION: We are a couple (aged 48 and 50), and we're rebuilding our credit and trying to improve our financial future so we can leave trust funds for our two special-needs sons. We've never invested because we think you have to be rich to invest (but we do have a 401K). We also recently bought our first home through VA after claiming bankruptcy only two years ago. I heard that you can invest with only a pittance, namely in your gas or electric company. Is that true? — Sharon (Madison, OH)
SCOTT BLEIER: Kudos to you for your desire to manage your investments and credit profile while caring for special-needs children.
Investing is easy. It's saving that is so difficult, especially when there is seldom enough. But you can invest in very small increments and at low cost using a Direct Stock Purchase Plan combined with a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP).
The first thing you must do is find out what companies offer this service. Start on Yahoo or Google and search under “direct stock purchase plans.” There you will find many different services to help you put together your list of companies.
This type of investment started with local electric utilities, but has quickly spread to other industries. Many of these companies request that you buy stock directly from them and will ask you to contact their investor relations departments for further information. Don't be shy as lots of people invest this way.
Remember, do your homework first. The Internet is an amazing resource to do your investigations in this matter.
QUESTION: What do you think of First Advantage Corporation (FADV)? — Isaac (Dallas, TX)
SCOTT BLEIER: First Advantage is like a giant detective agency but directed to business and corporations.
They are in a business that is essential to companies today. Corporations don't just hire in today's day and age without extensive background checks especially when the job requires an expensive investment in training the new employee or where proprietary information is involved. First Advantage's primary business is employee screening services.
They also offer consulting for litigation and taxes and do a healthy business with many governmental agencies.
This stock is not cheap on a valuation basis, but most growth stocks seldom are. If they can continue to grow at the pace they have over the last four years, this stock could conceivably go much higher or even be bought out.
Thanks for the heads up. I'm putting this one on my radar screen!