Santa Maria Times from Santa Maria, California on September 16, 2007 · 6
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Santa Maria Times from Santa Maria, California · 6

Santa Maria, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 16, 2007
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j yngi y y y jn'-ytfi iy ip y igpf yp y y y ii ihjj) iiy tii p-iy y y y y y W 1 E It $ Ji 'P HE W "9 'W -'9 V V yg A6 TIMES Sunday, September 16, 2007 Split-Adjusted QHow do mutual funds work? A.R., Santa Maria, Calif. A A mutual fluid is the money of many investors, pooled together and managed by a company of professionals. Mutual funds are a terrific idea, because they permit ordinary people who aren't investment whizzes to increase their wealth by investing in securities carefully chosen by fund managers. At least, that's how it's usually supposed to work. There are many kinds of mutual funds, tailored to many kinds of investors. Some funds invest just in stocks, others in bonds, and some in both. Some focus on large companies, others on small companies, and others on a mix. Some seek income through dividend- or interest-paying securities, and others aggressively seek fast-growing firms. Some specialize in one industry (such as health care or real estate) and others in a region (such as Asia or Europe). Unfortunately, many professionally managed mutual funds don't do so well for their investors, due to hefty fees andor manager problems, such as a lack of talent or a counterproductive focus on short-term results. To, combat this, many investors sensibly opt for broad-market index funds, which tend to sport very low fees and invest only in the stocks of major indexes, such as the S&P 500. Learn more about mutual funds at www.fool.commutuaifunds mutualfunds.htm and research them at Also, check out (for free) our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter, which recommends exceptional mutual funds, at Q Where can I learn about insurance? T.M., Knoxville, Tenn. A Click over to www.fooI.cominsurancecentcr,, and for some good overviews. Or curl up with a copy of "Insurance for Dummies" by Jack Hungelmann (For Dummies, $22), The Motley Fool To Educate, Amuse & Enrich What Is This Thing Called The Motley Fool? Remember Shakespeare? Remember "As You Like It"? In Elizabethan days, Fools were the only people who could get away with telling the truth to the King or Queen. The Motley Fool tells the truth about investing, and hopes you'll laugh all the way to the bant Time to Refinance? If you're struggling with a mortgage that has become hard to pay, due perhaps to an adjustable rate that adjusted itself upward more than you expected, you may want to refinance into a different, more stable, loan. After all, interest rates are still on the low side, historically speaking. You may want to con-sider refinancing just because current rates are " lower than what you're paying. Refinancing involves taking out a new mortgage on your home usually at a lower interest rate, decreasing the amount of your monthly payments (sometimes by as much as several hundred dollars). You can also increase the amount of the loan for such purposes as paying off credit card debt or making home improvements. (But beware: Your once-unsecured debt is now secured with your home as collateral.) Alternatively, lower your rate, keep payments the same or even a little higher, and get a 1 5-year loan instead of 30-year one. You'll enjoy massive interest savings that way. Check out available loans and interest rates, and assess the costs built into each one. Consider what "points," if.any, you might have to pay. A point, equal to 1 percent of the value of your loan, is paid upfront in order to lower the interest rate. Make sure you plan to be in the house long enough for the reduced monthly payments to compensate for the points and closing costs of the new loan. If you can get a new mortgage at a rate 1 or 12 a percentage point lower than your, current mortgage, you can reap sizable interest savings over 15 to 30 years, depending on how much you borrow. For example, $100,000 borrowed at 7 percent instead of 8 percent for 30 years will save about $25,000 over the length of the loan. Learn much more about home , financing at homecenter and mortgagerefinance. Ask your current mortgage lender about refinancing, too you might get a good deal without having to jump through too many hoops, since the lender already knows you. Didn't Buy, and Sold Too Soon Got a question for the Fool? Send it in see Write to Us Y iJ2 1 7 fiw Name That Company I'm green and yellow, and I was founded in 1837 in Illinois by a blacksmith from Vermont. He J t focused on plows in his first years and developed the "self-polish ing" steel plow. Today I'm one of America's oldest industrial companies, focusing on farming equipment, mowers, irrigation products, nursery supplies, forestry equipment, construction tools and equipment financing. I employ nearly 50,000 people and serve customers in some 110 nations. My market cap tops $25 billion and my stock price has nearly tripled over the past decade. You won't catch me stuck in any headlights. Who am I? My dumbest investment is between not buying Vertex Pharmaceuticals at $10.50 per share when it first came to my attention (it's now around $36), and selling Akamai Technologies at $ 1 8, for about a 30 percent gain. D.D., Westerly, R.I. The Fool Responds: There are gobs of companies that have done well that most of us missed. Even Warren Buffett has lamented not having bought into Wal-Mart at a certain time. We can't latch onto every rising star. Fortunately, we only need a few in order to do well. Selling too soon is a common mistake. The trick is to figure out what a fair price is for the company. If you think a $14 stock is really worth $30, that it is healthy and growing briskly, and that it has a strong competitive position, don't sell around $18. Akamai has had a bumpy ride, but those who bought for around $3 after the Internet bubble burst have seen a tenfold jump, as long as they held on patiently. Do you have an embarrassing lesson learned the hard way? Boil it down to 100 words (or less) and send it to The Motley Fool do My Dumbest Investment. Got one that worked? Submit to My Smartest Irnvstment. If we print yours, you 11 win a Fool's cap! Troubled Gateway At less than $2 per share, Gateway (NYSE: GTW) stock might seem appealing. But beware it ' recently reported rather dismal ; quarterly results, earning a penny of net profit vs. a loss last year. Sales fell 8.5 percent year-over-year, while firmwide gross profit margins increased to 7.6 percent. ' CEO Ed Coleman is turning around the firm's struggling retail operation. By sacrificing unprofitable businesses and focusing on higher price-point sales, the firm managed to grow its retail sales 4 percent despite selling 1 percent fewer units than in last year's quarter. In Gateway's direct ' ' sales unit, though, units sold dropped 15 percent year over year, but dollar sales declined 30 percent, and profit margins plummeted, too. Most troubling, though, are Gateway's balance sheet and cash flow statements. The company is burning off a lot of Cash. It sports a lot of inventory, but that's a bad thing. Inventories are up 10 percent year over year, and worst of all is the kind of inventory we see. Raw materials declined 14 percent, suggesting that Gateway sees weak demand continuing and so is not buying components to satisfy it. Finished goods inventory is stacked with 22 percent more unsold computers this year than last. So, if you're wondering whether Gateway stock can fall any lower, the answer is yes, it can. LAST WEEK'S TRIVIA ANSWER The product of a 2001 merger of two paper companies and based in Virginia, I'm a provider of packaging, specialty chemicals, specialty papers, forestry services, and consumer and office products. Back-to-school shoppers are filling their shopping carts with my notebooks and other wares. My brands include Five Star, Trapper Keeper, AT-A-GLANCE, Cambridge, Day Runner and AMCAL, along with a name that suggests a fermented alcoholic beverage made of honey. I also offer asphalt products, ink resins and carbon purifiers, among other things. I manage my forestlands in accordance with internationally recognized forest certification standards. Who am I? (Answer: MeadWestvaco) Know the answer? Send it to us with Foolish Trivia on the top and you'll be entered into a drawingfor a nifty prize! Write to Us! Send questions for Ask the Fool, Dumbest (or Smartest) Investments (up to 100 words), and your Trivia entries to or via regular mail co this newspaper, attn: The Motley Fool. Sorry, we can 't provide individual financial advice. " Ml 1 hi Mm in lnoifKi. Numti PkfssSimww lFiHFtM-WI.V2i)07 SKIFF: Continued from page A5 the Chesapeake, where the skiffs have more flexible lapstrake hulls, with boards lapped over each other. In contrast, he said, skiffs built just across the state line, in Tiverton, have more upright lines, with planks stacked and fastened edge to edge. The first Westport skiff his father remembers was made for rowing, with an upward sweep in the stern. As outboard motors became popular, sterns had to be lowered, Scott Gifford said, so the skiff became flat-bottomed, although some builders also made v-bottom versions. But now, with boat building having evolved through technology, why work in wood when so many lighter, stronger composite materials are available? "Wood is organic," Scott Gifford said. "When you work with it, it tells you where it wants to be, where it needs to go on the boat. "Many times, I've had a plank that I questioned, figuring that if I got it in place, it would be fine even though the grain wasn't ex- ; actly right," he continued. "Sure enough, it would break going on, telling me, 'I didn't want to go on the boat there.' "Working in wood is half art and half business. The aroma of wood is very relaxing, and it's very satisfying to take a piece of wood with bark on it and make it Into something smooth and shiny. "It's like sculpture: You have a pile of wood and a box of screws, and they become something you've accomplished." SARAH BREEDLOVE WALKER Pioneer businesswoman As America entered the 20th century, women were still denied many of the rights we now take for granted. They did not have the right to vote. There were few women doctors, fewer women lawyers and virtually no women business executives. Black women had even fewer rights. So the story of Sarah Breedlove Walker, also known as Madam C.J. Walker, is a tale of achieving the impossible: she became one of the first women, white or black, to succeed in business no less in a white man's world! Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of freed slaves, was born in Louisiana in 1867. Her family lived in a windowless shack and slept on the ground. Her parents died before she was seven and Sarah moved in with her older sister and her husband. Her sister's husband was so abusive, Sarah escaped by getting married when she was 14. She had a child, Lelia, in 1885, but was a widow by 20. Sarah " moved to St. Louis, MO, and worked as a domestic. "I couldn't see how a poor washerwoman was going to better my condition," she rued. Joining the St. Paul AME Church she met some of the middle-class black women in the community. Some of these women not only inspired Sarah to attend night school, but took responsibility for Lelia's education, one of the few roads. IpGreat American:; iWrtunes; 1 -"-iiri i-i i mt ri i Sarah Breedlove Walker though unpaved and rutted, to salvation from oppression. Sarah's hair began falling out in small clumps, probably due to psoriasis and other scalp ailments common at the time. She experimented with various hair preparations before settling on those sold by Annie Turnbo Malone, another enterprising black woman. Sarah subsequently became one of Turnbo's saleswomen. In search of a new sales territory for Turnbo's wares, Sarah moved to Denver where she married Charles J. Walker, a journalist with some knowledge of marketing. At his urging she became Madam C. J. Walker and created her own cosmetic creams and treatments. Traveling door-to-door, covering several states, the fashionably dressed woman cut a flourishing figure. An adept businesswoman and saleswoman, Sarah soon had hundreds of commission agents selling her products. In 1910 Sarah moved her headquarters to Indianapolis where she built a new factory and a training center to prepare her "hair culturists" in the Walker system. By 1917 The Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company was the largest black-owned enterprise in the United States, with 2,000 agents and annual revenues approach-ing $500,000. Philanthropy was a major part of Sarah's soul. She helped fund the first black YMCA, and various schools and institutes for young African Americans. - Sarah lived her last years at Villa Lewero, her massive Georgian mansion at Irvington-on-the-Hudson. She died in 1919, just 52 years old. "If I have accomplished anything in life," she said, "it is because I have been willing to work hard There is no royal, flower-strewn road to success, and if there is, I have not found it...." One magazine claimed Sarah was worth $1 million. But what she accomplished was greater. PEOPLE IN BUSINESS: Continued from page A5 Options serves more than 200 individuals daily in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. For more information, visit or contact McCaa at 772-6066, Ext. 101. Santa Ynez Inn names Heather Lee Henry as its executive chef Heather Lee Henry has been named executive chef of the Santa Ynez Inn by Rick Segovia, general manager of the AAA four-diamond-rated hotel at 3627 Sa-gunto St. Henry will oversee all aspects of food preparation, presentation and service throughout the inn and will " supervise catering functions in the inn's Coach House, Library and Parlor. Prior to joining the Santa Ynez Inn, she was chef de cuisine at the Porch Restaurant in Los Olivos. She previously worked as chef at Grey Eagle Lodge in Greagle and Pacific Crest Bistro in Truckee, pastry chef at Wolfdale's in Tahoe City and chef de cuisine at Nightshade in San Francisco. A native of Reno, Nev., she is a 1997 graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and takes courses at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone in St. Helena. Sinsheimer on 'Best Lawyers' list Warren A. Sinsheimer of Sinsheimer Juhnke ' Lebens & Mclvor LLP has been selected for the 2008 edition of "The Best Lawyers in America" in the specialties of trusts and estates for the eighth time. , Sinsheimer received his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, in 1971. He then served two years as a law clerk for Richard H. Chambers, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Sinsheimer has been a speaker for the State Bar of California and various law institutes and colleges and has published articles on the trusts and estates field in various professional journals. He was a founding partner of Sinsheimer Juhnke Lebens & Mclvor LLP, a full service law firm in San Luis Obispo. For more information on the firm, visit LOOKING FOR A HIGHER RATE OF RETURN? Trust Deeds offer better rates than banks or CDs Interest rate stiyt constant for the term of the loan. Monthly interest payment Principal value of investment dot tot nrj - unlike stocks and bonds. Secured by real estate. Karen Orsua, OwnerBroker CADRE U.:i52. Based on $158,313 irwtifcntnt AraujiRai StefHsmt Awu' Irlrsst Sayings Accounts 125 $10417 $1250 Money ttrtet 291 $242 50 $2.910 12-MorlhCDs 6.23 $436 00 $5232 TOWER 1st Trust Deeds 12 $1,000 $12.000 TOWER FINANCIAL SERVICES 116 L College Ave, Suite A, Lompoc, CA 95436 (805) 737-1918 w.lcrwcrfinajiciil.ori; ON THE FARM: Continued from page AS manager of the Firestone Winery in Paso Robles. He spoke to the group about several issues he has faced as a young farmer and winemaker. On Oct 13, the San Luis Obispo County YF&R will again hold the Bounty of the County Dinner and live auction at Madonna Inn. This year, special guest speaker George Gomes from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and a past administrator for the California Farm Bureau Federation, will deliver a keynote address about the importance of youth in agriculture. Auctioneer Dr. Scott Vernon has again donated his time to man the gavel to help raise money for the committee. The 2007 auction item preview promises to be as exciting as the last, with Barlet, as well as an assortment of other tempting items, available to the highest bidder. Proceeds from this remarkable event provide the organization with the funds needed to operate for the following year. For more information about YF&.R and the Bounty of the County, visit . Frost Pauli is the past chairman of the San Luis Obispo County YT&R, a Col Poly student and a young agriculturist in Northern California.

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