Question: What are your feelings about Marvel (MRVL)and Broadcom (BRCM)? Thanks. — Pete (Eldersburg, MD)
Mike Norman: Pete, both of those stocks appear to be highly overvalued, even with the decline we have seen in the past three months. With earnings' yields in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent, you will probably do better by just holding your money in short term CDs that yield near six percent. If you want a very undervalued name in the semiconductor space and a company that is also the dominant player in its business, go with Intel. If you're patient, you won't be disappointed.
Question: With the baby-boomer generation headed into senior citizenship, I was thinking about buying more shares of Medtronic (MDT). Is this a good idea? — George (Marlborough, MA)
Mike Norman: George, the baby-boomer, retirement theme will be one of the biggest market themes of the next few decades so you are correct to be looking at a way to play that. However, Medtronic's stock is overvalued at these levels. If you want a similar play, but one where you are buying value, pick up some shares of Johnson & Johnson. You'll be happy you did.
Question: As interest rates go up, can I expect housing prices to go down? I'd like to purchase my first home in the next year. — Chris (Hawthorne, NJ)
Mike Norman: Perhaps, although it's hard to say. Interest rates are not the sole determinants of home prices. Other factors, such as wages and earnings, housing supply, land costs and demographics all come into play. What you have working for you is the fact that the inventory of unsold homes in this country is now at a record high. Combine that with the rising interest rates you mentioned and it could bring down home prices a bit. A better strategy would be to use this period of softness in the market to "shop around" and make low bids on properties you like. You never know — you may find a seller who needs to sell, and you could get a great deal.
Question: Now that VOIP is becoming so popular, is the long-distance calling plan a thing of the past? How can major phone companies compete? Thanks — Suzanne
Mike Norman: Suzanne, millions of people still access the Internet with dial-up modems (and I think there are even some folks who have rotary phones), so I wouldn't be writing off long-distance calling plans anytime soon. One thing you can expect to see, however, is more pressure on telecom providers to lower long-distance fees. That'll be how they will compete.