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Table: The Top Five Value-Retaining Automobiles Of 2004

Sure, the last thing you need is another appliance. But Black & Decker's (BDK) Lids Off automatic jar opener ($40) could be a godsend for anyone who has trouble with stubborn lids. The concept came from a Yale design student, and Black & Decker worked with the Center for Assistive Technology at SUNY Buffalo to finalize the design. It uses a motorized turntable to break the vacuum seal and twist off the lids of jars up to 4 inches in diameter and 8 in. high. An act of Congress could force Edmund Kellogg, portfolio manager of the $76 million Boston Partners Long/Short Equity Fund, to give up running that mutual fund. That's a shame because, using hedge-fund-like strategies, Kellogg has earned an impressive 10.6% annualized return over the past five years. The problem: The reform bill the Senate will soon take up bars managers from running hedge funds and mutual funds simultaneously. If the bill becomes law, Kellogg, who runs a hedge fund with an identical strategy, won't be able to run both. (He declines to comment.)

The prohibition is meant to prevent managers of both types of funds from putting the best stocks into hedge funds, which have higher fees. Some attorneys say the change is unnecessary. Under existing law, "a manager can't favor Fund A over Fund B when buying a stock," says Robert Todd Lang, a New York securities lawyer. Some say the law will instead deter hedge-fund folks from offering their talents to mutual-fund investors. Hard to say how many may be in Kellogg's position, but at least 200 mutual funds practice some hedge-fund techniques. The hot European summer did a number on this year's truffle crop. Sizzling temperatures ruined growing conditions for the finicky fungus, wiping out 70% of the harvest. Urbani Group, the largest importer of truffles to the U.S., is selling fresh white truffles for $3,000 a pound, up from $1,000 last year, and fresh black truffles for $1,400 a pound, up from $650. Restaurants are reluctant to pass on the increases. Jean-Marie Lacroix, chef at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, will serve fresh truffles only if a customer orders in advance. "Truffles are exorbitant, and people are very price-conscious right now," Lacroix says. If you do see truffles on the menu, you might be getting a price break. New York's DB Bistro Moderne raised the price on its hamburger with fresh black truffles by just 15% -- to $59. Such a deal. Shopping for a new car? Be forewarned: In five years, the average new car

will be worth only about a third of its sticker price today. But some cars

hold their value better than others, so steer away from family sedans,

minivans, and station wagons, and take into account the brand's reputation

for long-term reliability. Here are Kelley Blue Book's picks for the top

five 2004 models in terms of how much of their original value they'll retain

in 2009.

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