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Check the scores on funds investing around the world and you'll find that during the past 13 weeks handsome total returns have been seen in Latin American Funds, up over 54 percent between January 14 and April 15, 1999; Japanese Funds, ahead almost 29 percent; and emerging markets funds, up over 21 percent. Not bad given that the average growth fund was up about 8 percent over the same time frame.

But investing outside of the United States comes with more risks than investing only in U.S companies does. And to keep you tuned-in to what some of those risks can be, the Founders fund family has produced a new booklet, 17 Tips on International Investing, that's free for the asking by calling 1-800-525-2440, extension 649.

"The booklet was created to help investors understand that there are different types of risk with foreign investment that they need to consider when looking at overseas funds," says Lorrie. W. Grove, director of public relations at Founders." And it's part of Founders on-going effort to meet the educational needs of investors."

Here's some of the practical information you'll find in the booklet:

  • Growth is Reason Enough. You know that two-thirds of an iceberg's mass cannot be seen because it's below water. Similarly, nearly two-thirds of the world's investment opportunities lie beyond U.S. borders. As a result, it's simply not possible to pursue the very best growth opportunities if you systematically exclude a majority of the world's equities from consideration. In short, the single-minded pursuit of growth is reason enough to consider including international stocks in your investment portfolio.

  • Don't Sail Without a Compass. Once you've decided to invest abroad, you must next decide how. You could open a foreign securities trading account, but direct trading of foreign securities is subject to stiff financial requirements and changing government restrictions. Or you could buy ADRs ( American Depository Receipts), but ADRs aren't available on the majority of foreign corporations. So, if you're like most investors, you'll probably turn to mutual funds. Mutual funds offer individual investors greater diversification than they can typically achieve alone, plus professional management in navigating the many financial and legal barriers to international investing.

  • Be Prepared to Go the Distance. All investing requires a long-term commitment, but this is especially true of international investing. In fact, there are those who would argue that no monies should be invested in foreign stocks which cannot remain invested for at least five years. Because international markets can be more volatile than the U.S. market, a longer time horizon and the discipline to stay the course are absolutely essential.

  • Currency giveth and currency taketh away. Currency devaluation may represent one of the singe greatest risks to a foreign investors In fact, suboptimal investment under the stability of a strong currency is preferable to seeing one's gains buried beneath a collapsing currency.

    While the relative strength of a country's currency usually reflects the health of its economy, government intervention may result in a false signal. Therefore, don't expect a strong currency to guarantee successful global investing. Do your homework, assess the underlying fundamentals, and only use the strength of a currency as the final step in your assessment of the potential risk and rewards of any foreign investment.

  • We Are What We Eat. The best company can still be a bad investment if it's operating in an unstable economic or political environment. So it's important to also consider country trends.

Is inflation under control? Is the economy growing? Is the currency stable? Better to give preference to opportunities in countries where government assets have been privatized successfully, where trade barriers have been reduced, where inflation has been brought under control, and where rulers had succeeded on another peacefully.

Even though it may turn out that world-wide investing is not for you, tips like those mentioned --and others in the booklet-- will help make you a wiser investor.

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