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Investing Overseas for Double the Payoff

Everybody likes twofers: two cans of peas for the price of one. Two suits for the price of one. Two tickets to London for the price of one.

I've never seen a twofer offering investors two shares for the price of one. But every once in a while, I do come across another kind of investing twofer. And thanks to the falling U.S. dollar, I think I've found one.

If you buy the right kind of overseas income investments (stocks, bonds or mutual funds), I think you have a good chance of both earning a higher yield than you'd get on comparable U.S. assets, and seeing greater price appreciation than you would in the U.S. markets. Declines in the U.S. dollar translate into higher prices in euros, yen or Australian dollars.

This twofer also comes with less risk than you'd get from a portfolio limited to just U.S. stocks and bonds. That's always valuable, of course, but it will be especially valuable in 2005, a year that, if I'm right, will deliver about the same 8% total return in stocks that investors have seen in 2004, and with the same kind of maddening sector rotations, head fakes, aborted rallies and short-lived but stomach-wrenching scares. (For more on my take on 2005, see last week's column .)

And of course, this twofer offers the prospect of profits even if my read on 2005 is wrong.

Try Something New

This twofer is available to every investor who is willing to learn some new tricks. You'll have to give up your unthinking reliance on U.S. Treasuries and U.S. blue-chip stocks for safety and replace those assets with some relatively unfamiliar assets.

I don't underestimate for a moment how hard it is to get comfortable with a new stock or an unfamiliar asset class. But I think 2005 looks like a year that will reward stretching your mind and learning a new trick or two.

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