The Search For Value

Today's picked-over market demands extra discipline

Like the late-arriving prospectors panning for gold in California's riverbeds after 1849, today's investors are finding it tougher and tougher to strike it rich. The easy-money years of 20% or 30% market gains seem to be over, and no one can be certain whether the stock market will even continue its long rise. Weak growth in U.S. corporate profits, shaky economies across Asia, and wild cards such as the Year 2000 computer bug are all making the markets jittery and unpredictable. But investors shouldn't despair: While stocks and other investments have been picked over, they've hardly been picked clean. There's still gold in them thar hills. You just have to know the right spot to look.

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