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You Gotta Know When To Hold `Em And When To Fold `Em

My conclusion after reading Roben Farzad's well-written and informative "Charter: Cable's sucker stock" (Finance, May 29), on Charter Communications (CHTR), is that he never took Investing 101, an important lesson of which is to always have a stop-loss point. Farzad was not necessarily naive when he purchased Charter stock. His motivation sounds reasonable, and the stock may have been fairly valued in the market of 1999.

What he can be faulted for, however, is not cutting his losses at 20%, 30%, or at some level from which recovery of lost capital is possible. All investors pick some stocks that go the wrong way, but good investors diversify, cut their losses, and move forward by looking for other opportunities.

James Bittman


There is a grain of truth when James Manley, spokesman for Senator Henry Reid, says: "It would be all but impossible to do these campaign-related trips unless members sometimes have access to private jets" ("Loopholes a jet can fly through," News: Analysis & Commentary, May 22). These trips will be a thing of the past when Very Light jets start flying in a few months. Eclipse Aviation Corp. alone has orders in excess of 2,500 jets that will be available to lawmakers for travel to faraway places with 3,000-foot runways, day or night, on minutes' notice, at a cost of roughly first-class fares.

The current unethical, discounted flights will be history, unless, of course, our lawmakers are unethical.

David Chigos

Captain, U.S. Navy (ret.)

Point Loma, Calif.

Some of the fondest memories of my life are, as a young boy, spending my summer vacations with my parents at the edge of Ecuador's Amazon rain forest ("Adi?s, Occidental?" The Business Week, May 29). Working for an Anglo-American petroleum company, my father was involved in the early oil exploration efforts in Ecuador -- efforts that have finally paid off (Ecuador has Latin America's fifth-largest oil reserves). As an Ecuador-born, naturalized American, it thus pains me to watch the ongoing spectacle of what you call "the nationalization parade" (the latest being Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY)), free-trade disputes, and other negative economic-political developments in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. These developments not only threaten to set back decades of economic and political progress in Latin America but also pose energy and possibly even security repercussions for the U.S.

What pains me even more is that some, if not many, of these anti-American developments could have been prevented by a more alert, involved, and competent U.S. Administration.

Dorian de Wind

Major, U.S. Air Force (ret.)

Austin, Tex.

My initial reaction to "Can this marriage be managed?" was astonishment (News: Analysis & Commentary, May 22), which then morphed into contempt for the concept. While I wish continued success and happiness for the authors' relationships, the idea that a marriage -- a partnership forged of mutual affection, respect, and love -- can be run like a business demotes the spiritual connection within a healthy relationship from the centerpiece to a mere footnote.

B.T. Foster

Olathe, Kan.

I'm sure UAL Corp.'s (UAUA) new shareholders will appreciate their managers spending time on this project while the company's shares have dropped 10%.

Michael Bond

Lakewood, Ohio

I take issue with retail consultant Wendy Liebmann's view that postpartum fashion lines address the "sense of desperation" new mothers feel about their bodies ("Down the postpartum runway," Up Front, May 29). In my opinion, it is a commercial niche that instead creates that desperation, akin to the effect that impossibly tall, thin, busty couture models have had, resulting in rampant eating disorders, plastic surgeries, and shopping addictions in women in the other hormonally driven spectrums of life -- adolescence and menopause. Just what we need to subtly encourage new mothers to join those ranks. I'm all for feeling pretty, but we all can't look that way all the time.

Karen Ann Deluca

Alexandria, Va.

In "The fine print on college plans" (Personal Finance, May 8), Anne Tergesen correctly pointed out that expense ratios are an important consideration for individuals evaluating 529 plans.

In addition to low expense ratios, however, investors should take into account the all-in costs of these popular college savings vehicles, including in-state tax savings and account fees. As such, a resident may wisely opt for his or her in-state plan if the resulting tax saving more than makes up for paying modestly higher expenses.

John Heywood

Principal, Education Markets

Vanguard Group

Valley Forge, Pa.

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