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Post 9/11 stocks make sweet strides upwards

What a difference six months can make. Particularly when it comes to the stock market and investing after a tragedy has happened.

Look back 40 years at the performance of the S & P 500 and you'll find that six months after a major tragedy the investment news is typically pretty good. For instance, six months after President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, the S & P 500 had moved up more than 11 percent; six months after Iraq invaded Kuwait, on Aug. 2, 1990, it was up nearly 16 percent; and six months after the World Trade Center was bombed, on Feb 26, 1993, it was up more than six percent, according to Ibbotson Associates, a Chicago-based investment research company.

So how have things fared since the 9/11/ tragedy? While our hearts may still be broken and not likely to heal for some time, the market has made strong strides forwards. Because Ibbotson doesn't track the market on a daily basis, (they track it on a monthly basis), let's look at how the Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ have performed.

As of March 11, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained nearly 30 percent after reopening on Sept. 21, 2001. Over that same six month time frame following 9/11, the NASDAQ moved ahead about 36 percent. As for mutual funds, their returns might surprise you: According to Lipper, 1,841 equity funds, out of a total of 9964, had moved up just like the market----30 percent or more during those six months.

As for the biggest gainers, the top four funds making the largest leaps were: The Profunds Semiconductor: INV, up 99.6 percent; the Profunds: Semiconductor: SVC, up 98,73 percent; ARK Funds: SI Small Cap Equity: INST, up 98.08 percent; and the iShares: MSCI S. Korea fund, up 92.90 percent.

Narrow the field a little and there were 113 funds that gained 50 percent or more. The bulk of them were Science & Technology funds, (41); Emerging Markets funds, (26); and Pacific X Japan funds, (20).

Free online resources:

If you love the kinds of investment tools that Morningstar has created for mutual fund investors, you'll really love what T.Rowe Price has to offer.

A handful of planning and guidance tools that Morningstar created--and required a membership fee to access---are now available at T.Rowe Price's website at no cost. Yup, that's right, free for the using.

Two of them, the Morningstar Clear Future guidance module, and the Morningstar Portfolio X-Ray, are particularly helpful for those wanting to get a better picture of how their 401 (k) retirement dollars are invested, and, what the make-up is of all of the investments held in their personal portfolios.

"The Clear Future helps you diversify your retirement plan," says Steve Norwitz, a vice president at T. Rowe Price, "And, to get an idea of how much risk your taking on in your asset allocation strategy with respect to your 401 (k) investment. For instance, if you have more than 10 percent invested in company stock, it raises a red flag and suggests that you should probably limit that holding to 10 percent."

Norwitz says the Portfolio X-Ray tool can help analyze your entire personal portfolio. Using it means entering all of your holdings--like individual stocks, bonds, money market funds and mutual funds---and then letting the program slice and dice that info into any number of different pieces.

The end result is you'll have an idea of just how much you've invested in things like the various stock sectors, the different style boxes, regions of the world, etc. The X-Ray also shows the top 10 holdings in your portfolio." So, if you own Microsoft directly, and own three different funds that also own Microsoft, it will tell you what percentage of your portfolio is invested in that stock," says Norwitz.

To use these tools, visit www.troweprice.com, then, on the right side of the home page look for "Investment Tools" and select a tool from the drop down bar.

One reminder, as great as these investment tools are, the best they can do is provide a overview of what's been going on with your holdings and not an up-to-the-day report. Mutual funds don't report their fund holdings to Morningstar on a daily basis. So think past tense when reviewing the results as the freshest data regarding fund portfolios you'll find on Morningstar data is likely to be at least two to three months old.


CORRECTION: In the recent column dated 3/7/02, the worst performing fund year-to-date through Feb. 21, was not the Van Wagoner Emerging Growth fund, (down over 23 percent),as reported. The worse performer over that time period was the ProFunds: Wireless; Inv.. It was down 58.49 percent.


Dian Vujovich is a nationally syndicated mutual fund columnist, author of a number of books including Straight Talk About Mutual Funds (McGraw-Hill), and publisher of this web site.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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