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Commentary > Sivy on Stocks
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Guide to growth
A 17-part series on how to achieve maximum returns for the right amount of risk.
August 17, 2004: 9:19 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Over the past decade, investors have seen stocks soar and crash.

They've poured record amounts of money into equities when times were good and then yanked it out when the market turned sour.

During the late 1990s boom, many investors bet heavily on high-tech stocks, such as Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle. Then during the slump, they scrambled into more conservative stocks.

Now a new bull market seems to be under way. And investors are trying to settle on a new strategy.

If there's one lesson shareholders have learned from the ups and downs of the past 10 years, it's that you need to manage down risk, so that you don't go too far off track even if your market assessment is wrong.

That's where this course comes in.

It's aimed at long-term, conservative growth investors who want to manage their own portfolios, relying largely on individual stocks and bonds. The 17 lessons cover just about everything an individual investor needs to know to achieve superior long-term returns with below-average risk.

And that's what it's really all about.

1. Aiming for a realistic return

Setting reasonable goals increases your odds for long-term success.

2. Identifying your real risks

Volatility is only one part of the equation -- and the least important one. Here's what to consider to ensure you reach your long-term goals.

3. Putting together the right portfolio

Good stock picking alone doesn't ensure long-term success. You also have to get the mix right.

4. The psychology of investing

Here's how to keep your wits about you and boost your long-term returns.

5. Investing for growth

Every portfolio needs a healthy dose of growth. Finding it is easy -- here's how to avoid overpaying for it.

6. Seven questions to ask before buying a growth stock

Look for long-distance runners, not sprinters -- these questions can help determine if you're buying growth that can be sustained.

7. How to spot value

Finding bargains is an art, not a science. But there are rules for getting in at the right price.

8. Selecting stocks for income

We all want a stock that will double overnight. But there's something to be said for steadily rising dividends.

9. How to buy bonds

The stock-picking bug is powerful. But bonds sometimes outperform, and proper use of income investments can boost your overall returns.

10. Preferred shares: uncommon values

Uncovering one of the best-kept secrets in fixed income.

11. Convertibles: the best of both worlds

Can't choose between the growth of stocks and the income of bonds? Convertibles may be your answer.

12. Closed-end funds: Their day will come again

If you catch them at the right time, these often overlooked funds can offer outsized gains.

13. ETFs vs. regular mutual funds

Although they're less familiar, exchange-traded funds can be a better deal than comparable mutual funds.

14. The right way to use stock options

Options trading may be exciting -- but it's usually futile. Here's a strategy for locking in gains and lifting overall returns that really works.

15. Profiting from M&As

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there are ways smart individual investors can hold their own against insiders.

16. Frequently asked questions I

Is it bullish if my stock is added to the S&P? Can stock splits and buybacks increase total returns? What should I do with a spinoff?

17. Frequently asked questions II

Should you buy stock on margin? What about socially-conscious investing? Is there any reason to own gold?  Top of page




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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.