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1990 1991 : INVESTMENT TIPS : Look for Quality

January 02, 1991|KATHY M. KRISTOF

Investing, often frustrating, is likely to be even more so in 1991. Here are a few tips that may help out.

* Take a long view: There's a good chance that your stock and real estate investments will not appreciate in 1991. However, investment counselors note that both real estate and stocks have outperformed many other types of investments over the long haul. If you have a three-to-five year investment horizon, you might consider buying stock in high-quality companies and well-located real estate if and when prices dip further in 1991.

* Quality counts: Value-oriented investors, those who look for quality companies selling at relative bargain prices, are expected to do better than investors who speculate on growth and takeover stocks. Some investment counselors suggest you look for companies that have weathered past recessions.

* Diversify your portfolio: Diversification is always important, but it becomes even more so when the economy sours. If you have some money in cash equivalents such as Treasury bills, some in real estate and some in stocks, you reduce the risk of losing everything when one type of investment sours.

* Count on cash: Make sure you have at least some money in cash--certificates of deposit, money market accounts or Treasury bills--so you can take advantage of "buying opportunities" when quality stocks and other investments become cheap, as many believe they will by midyear.

* Beware of high dividend yields: It's always tempting to buy a stock that offers an exceptionally high dividend yield, but consider yields well above the current market rate--now about 3.5% to 4%--a red flag. There's a good chance that the yield is high only because the company is troubled and ready to cut such payouts to shareholders.

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