Question: If there were a big storm in the Gulf, where would you put your money? In land drillers or ocean drillers whose platforms are out? I noticed that despite oil revenue down during and after Katrina, even without a rebuild in capacity and performance for Gulf offshore drillers these stocks didn't suffer. Are there any service stocks whose specialty is rebuilding offshore rigs? — Pete (Eldersburg, MD)
Gary Kaltbaum: 21 percent of Gulf oil production, and 13 percent of gas production, has never come back online in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This is a fact most people do not know. There is more to the equation right now than just whether another hurricane will hit. Most oil stocks are now going into their own private bear market along with most other commodity areas. I don't think it is a wise time to jump in, and this is whether or not a hurricane hits. If you are looking for one pure play, you may look at Oceaneering Intl. (OII). The stock has also held up better than most in the group.
Question: I'm 30 years old, and make a decent living but would like to explore the opportunities of the stock market. First, where should I start? Second, what type of stocks or investments would be good for me to see a substantial profit? Third, how should I create my portfolio? — Rik (Atlanta, GA)
Gary Kaltbaum: My best advice is to not just jump in, but to do lots of homework first. Take your time and learn how and why the market does what it does. I would start with a subscription to Investor's Business Daily Newspaper. I would then read any book written by William O'Neill and Stan Weinstein. They teach how to interpret the market action and not to predict or dictate to the market.
Question: Should I buy, sell or hold Motorola (MOT), EMC Corp. (EMC) or Intel (INTC)? — Maria
Gary Kaltbaum: MOT, EMC and INTC are yesterday's leaders. For great gains going forward, you are going to need to find companies that are not so gigantic with stronger growth. I have been bearish on Intel for months and actually believe the stock can go much lower even from here. That said, I am only one person. Do your homework and do what's best for you. Just recognize when a stock is NOT working and you will be much better off going forward.
Question: Just a quick question concerning the stock market and my current 401k fund. I have all of my 401k fund in Fidelity's "Freedom Fund 2040" (FFFFX). I'm 26 years old and want something to make 8 percent or more long term. What are your thoughts on this fund? I know it's only a few years old, and I have been investing in it since January, and it's in the negative overall. Your thoughts and recommendations on this and other Fidelity choices will be greatly appreciated. — Travis
Gary Kaltbaum: I am not sure you ever want to put EVERYTHING into one fund. At Fidelity, I would also take a look at the Fidelity Dividend Fund, Fidelity Contrafund — and would ask the people of Fidelity what other funds have stood the test of time.
Question: What are a few stocks to buy for the short-term right now? I am taking an economics class and finance class and have a few investment ideas but wanted to get an expert opinion. Also, Valero (VLO) has been rising for a while now. Do you think it is at its peak or is there some room for growth? Thanks — Rick
Gary Kaltbaum: Rick: it would be folly for myself or anyone else to give you stock picks for the short term. This is for a simple reason. You will never know when I thought it was time to sell. I know it is fashionable to hear pundits come out with their HOT PICK of the week, but I promise, you will only lose money IN THE LONG RUN if you try to play things with every short term squiggle in the market. As far as Valero, most oils are in their own private corrections right now, and so I would hold off for this second. If the stock continuously holds the mid 55s, you may try to probe and see what happens.