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Invest Better Than Bill Gates

In the first quarter of 2007, Fisher returned 2.7% on common equity, compared with the industry average of 8.3%. Fisher shares have been trading in a narrow range, between the low $40s and low $50s, for the past four years. The company pays a 0.5% dividend, just enough to be able to say it pays one. Fisher appears to be neither a growth nor an income story. With nothing in the horizon to drive either, I'd also pass on Fisher Communications.

PNM Resources (PNM), representing 5.7% of Cascade Investments' portfolio (6.5 million shares worth $210 million), or 8.5% of PNM, is a regional energy and gas transmission company based in Albuquerque, N.M.

PNM is a regional utility play that pays a 3.3% dividend. Its competitors include American Electric Power (AEP), El Paso Electric (EE) and Excel Energy (XEL).

PNM's 15.65 P/E and 1.38 PEG are lower than its competitors', as well as lower than the industry average. With a payout ratio of 51%, the dividend looks safe. PNM has traded between the mid-$20s and the mid-$30s for the past two years. If you're looking for a utility stock with a safe dividend and the potential for modest price appreciation, PNM is a good choice. I'd keep it.

Otter Tail (OTTR), representing 2.4% of Cascade Investments' portfolio (2.5 million shares worth $87 million), or 8.6% of Otter, is an electric utility company in Fergus Falls, Minn.

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