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Larry D. Spears

Long-Term Investing Strategies: The Final Four Ways to Invest in Global Demographic Trends

Stock-market icon Warren Buffett once said that "our favorite holding period is forever."

Clearly, if you want to be a stock-market winner, you need to find profit opportunities that offer a predictable, long-term payoff.

And one of the best ways to do that is to capitalize on global demographic trends.

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Long-Term Investing Strategies: Global Demographic Trends

If you've been an investor for more than a few months, you've almost certainly heard the adage "the trend is your friend."

This bit of wisdom has been proven correct so often that it has assumed a place as a universally accepted stock market "rule."

Most of us think of trends as market momentum – a shorter-term manifestation that lasts from a few hours to a few weeks. But there's another kind of trend – one that's both longstanding and quite powerful – that can deliver hefty profits to those who understand its value.

Investors interested in long-term investing strategies can take a close look at global demographic trends.

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Hedging Strategies: At a Time of Record Gold Prices, This Simple Option Play Will Protect Your Profits

If you bought gold at any time during the first 10 months of 2010, you're sitting on some pretty healthy profits.

And thanks to renewed inflation fears and the growing unrest in Egypt, Libya and other Middle Eastern nations, most forecasters believe the "yellow metal" still has lots of room to run.

But if you watched gold struggle during January 2011, you may also be worried about keeping those hard-won profits – even with the rebound and run to record highs that gold prices have made.

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How to Clean Up with Waste Management Stocks

Money Morning on Feb. 9 described the profit potential of companies that are dealing with the world's water crisis, noting that 1.15 billion people around the globe currently lack access to clean water supplies.

However, even more people – 2.6 billion, according to the World Water Council – live in areas without adequate sanitation, making waste management an equally pressing global concern.

In fact, any hope that we have of resolving the mounting global water shortage will depend heavily on both cleaning up existing water sources and recycling the wastewater we currently produce – two jobs that will translate into big opportunity for investors in companies that focus on pollution control.

Of course, the bulk of global waste-management activity involves not water, but trash – with the clean-up of toxic materials thrown in for good measure.

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Timber Investing: The Inflation Hedge That Pays Off in Every Type of Market

If you start a conversation about the building inflationary pressures already sapping consumer pocketbooks, that talk will almost certainly turn to such classic hedges as gold, silver and even crude oil.

But one of the best inflationary hedges of the 20th century is often forgotten – even though it's likely to be just as effective this time around.

We're talking about timber – and timber stocks. And the facts speak for themselves. Investing in timber is a move virtually every investor should carefully consider.

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No Rebound in 2011: The Housing Market Continues to Rot

The year 2010 brought very little improvement in the U.S. housing sector. And that's not likely to change in 2011.

The industry's weaknesses – high unemployment, tight credit, ineffectual government programs, soaring inventories, plunging prices, and so on – are simply too gaping to be resolved within the year.

Even the normally ultra-optimistic National Association of Realtors (NAR) came out of its annual conference in New Orleans in early November with a frown on its face, predicting that, "nationwide, homeowners can expect little, if any, increase in home values in 2011."

The real estate research and online brokerage firm Zillow agreed. It recently issued a report noting that U.S. home values fell by 4.3% in the third quarter of 2010, and chances for improvement over the winter are slim.

"The unceasing declines in home values signal that we're in for a long, bleak winter of continued troubles for the housing market," said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. "The length and depth of the current housing recession is rivaling the Great Depression's real estate downturn and, with encouraging signs fading, will easily eclipse it in the coming months."

Read this full report to see why you don't need to avoid the housing industry altogether…

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Options: The Profit Strategy Behind This Oft-Overlooked Investment Tool

Stock options are a valuable tool for any investor who wants to increase income, maximize returns, and better control risks in his or her stock portfolio.

Yet despite these benefits, few investors make an effort to use – or even understand – options strategies.

Read this free report to see why options should be part of your investing arsenal.

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Defensive Investing: A Stock-Option "Insurance Policy" that Can Protect Your Profits

If you don't deal a lot with stock options in your investments, you probably don't realize just how versatile options actually are.

In fact, stock options can be used:

  • As a low-cost way to speculate on expected price movements.
  • To generate some added income on stock holdings.
  • To hedge against market reversals.
  • And even as a form of "insurance" – when used to "lock in" gains on profitable positions, protecting those profits against such stock-market reversals.

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For Beat-the-Market Safety Plays, Consider Investing in These Five 'Cash-Cow' Companies

When it comes to investing, finding a company that has a lot of money in the bank can be, well, money in the bank.

The logic is sound: Especially during times of economic uncertainty, companies that have a lot of cash on hand have the flexibility to do all sorts of things – most of them ultimately beneficial to shareholders because they help increase earnings and lead to higher stock prices.

For example, cash-rich firms can invest in new plants and equipment, fund research-and-development (R&D) initiatives for new products, or finance acquisitions that will increase market share or expand their geographic reach.

So-called "cash-cow" firms can also use their accumulated reserves to pay down or eliminate existing debt, increase annual dividends, buy back stock – or simply hold the money as a cushion against further economic downturns. Excess cash in the vault can transform smaller companies into attractive takeover targets, providing the shareholders of those target companies with quick and sizeable capital gains.

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Five Ways to Play a Rebound in Semiconductor Stocks

What a difference a year makes – or, for that matter, even a mere quarter.

Back in September 2009, most analysts were anticipating a surge in 2010 semiconductor sales that would reflect the upcoming economic recovery. After all, semiconductors are used in virtually every device consumers deem essential these days – from smart phones and notebook computers to coffee makers and gaming consoles. Yet the industry had been mired in a three-year slump that saw global semiconductor sales plunge 9.6% in 2009 alone.

By April of this year, the numbers seemed to confirm those expectations. First-quarter worldwide sales had soared 58.3% to $69.2 billion from the prior year quarter's $43.7 billion, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the sector's leading U.S. trade group.

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