Q. Could you tell me the value of the 1948 Chicago Tribune newspaper with the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman"? I have one in good condition. - J.S., Bloomingdale, Ill.
A. You own the best-known collectible newspaper edition, immortalized when a grinning President Harry Truman was photographed holding it up the day after he'd won - not lost - the presidential election he waged against Thomas Dewey.
A Nov. 3, 1948, Chicago Tribune with that specific headline once commanded a price of $1,200 in good condition, but is now worth between $400 and $500, according to the Newspaper Collectors Society of America in Lansing, Mich.
The value declined from its peak because, once word circulated about the $1,200 sale several years ago, a lot more people dug the papers out of their attics and closets and decided to sell them. The more plentiful a collectible item, the less it's worth.
Any copies of that edition that have the right-hand corner, or "ear," clipped off have a significantly lower collectible value. Those copies were brought back to the newspaper's warehouse as "returns" in 1948 and subsequently retrieved by savvy newspaper employees from the dump yard.
Other editions from that day with slightly different headlines are worth, on average, about $75 to $100 apiece. These include "Dewey Holds Narrow Lead" and "Dewey Ahead. Race Close."
"The biggest myth people have about collecting newspapers is that the older the newspaper, the higher the value," explained Rick Brown of the Newspaper Collectors Society, who has taken on consignment and sold about a dozen of those Tribune editions in the past five years. "Value is tied to historic content, such as this one, or the Lincoln assassination, or George Washington being elected president."
Condition is also crucial, with brittle or highly discolored newspapers having no collector value. Fakes or reprints are usually spotted quite easily, though you must be careful nonetheless.
The World Wide Web site of the Newspaper Collectors Society of America (www.historybuff.com) features a price guide and a primer on collecting newspapers. The organization's telephone number is (517) 887-1255.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Franklin Income Series, Class I? I was drawn to this income fund because of the low minimum investment of $100. - E.D., Dillwyn, Va.
A. It makes good sense for an income investor, though its relatively modest stock position means it won't take off as quickly during hot market periods as other balanced funds.
The $8.4 billion Franklin Income Fund, Class I, is up 14.21 percent in value over the past 12 months to rank below the midpoint of domestic balanced funds (those which include stocks, bonds and cash). Its three-year annualized return was 14.5 percent, placing it in the lowest 10 percent of its peers.
"This diversified fund has a lower exposure to the stock market than many of its peers, and that's why returns are not quite as high as some other funds," noted Steve Chung, fund analyst with the Morningstar Mutual Funds investment advisory. "In addition, a lot of its equities are high-yielding utility stocks that lagged the overall market in price appreciation."
Volatility isn't high because risk is spread out over lots of asset classes. Franklin Income Fund, Class I, had a recent portfolio mix of 40.5 percent stocks, 54 percent bonds and 5.5 percent cash.
About one-third of its bonds are below investment grade. The 30-day Securities and Exchange Commission yield for its bond portfolio is 6.7 percent. Top stocks include Philip Morris, American Electric Power, Dominion Resources, Entergy and Florida Progress.
Q. I've accumulated many shares of Enron Corp. over the years due to several stock splits. While its financial position seems good, it hasn't responded to current market trends. I've been holding because I have a huge capital gain. Should I continue holding? - T.H., Aurora, Ill.
A. Anyone who thinks the utility business is boring hasn't been paying much attention to the new deregulated environment.
This aggressive Houston-based oil and natural gas company that acquired Oregon's Portland General Corp. electric utility last July is a huge, diverse operation active both domestically and abroad.
It's been waging a fierce campaign to gain residential electricity customers in Pennsylvania and California and has further plans to extend that battlefield elsewhere around the country.
Consensus recommendation on Enron Corp. from Wall Street analysts is a "buy," according to the I/B/E/S International research firm. That includes two "strong buys," nine "buys" and eight "holds."
Expected earnings growth rate for fiscal 1997 is 9.2 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the overall natural gas utility industry. Expected earnings growth for 1998 is 10.8 percent, compared to 12.1 percent for its peers.
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