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Fidelity Hopes Well-Heeled Customers Think New Magazine Has Worth

The quarterly <I>Outlook</I> is aimed at customers who have $100,000 accounts or make three dozen trades a year.

When you're sending a message to 15 million investors, you'd better make sure you connect with the richest ones.

That's what

Fidelity Investments

is trying to do with its slick new quarterly shareholder magazine,

Fidelity Outlook

.

The magazine goes to customers who keep at least $100,000 in a retail account or who make at least 36 trades a year in a brokerage account. With a circulation of 800,000, the magazine tries to provide "more sophisticated" information than

Fidelity Focus

, the company's general shareholder magazine, says spokeswoman Lori Kelman-Seely.

Outlook

"aims to provide customers who have above-average assets with us ... with content relevant to their lifestyle," says Fidelity's head of marketing Stephen Cone.

Translation: Fidelity has been feeling pressure to keep higher-net-worth investors, and the magazine may be one way to make them feel catered to, says Jim Lowell, editor of

Fidelity Investor

, an independent newsletter that tracks Fidelity's funds.

"I think Fidelity is up against some high-net-worth drift, or at least the potential for it," says Lowell. "There are other players -- say a

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

-- that are very adept at treating their high-net-worth investors as if each one is the only individual on the planet."

But while targeting the high end is nothing new -- especially for a financial services firm -- Lowell says

Outlook's

exclusivity could work against it.

The magazine's slogan -- "Exclusively for Fidelity's Most Valued Customers" -- didn't escape Lowell's attention. "I think all customers at Fidelity ought to be valued," he says.

On the other hand, he notes that the $100,000 minimum to get the magazine isn't really that exclusive given the long bull market. (Fidelity declined to discuss how many customers had accounts that size.)

Outlook

was the result of focus groups that Fidelity commissioned to find out more about what its high-net-worth customers wanted, says

Outlook

editor Wendy Kincaid.

"They want some hard-hitting information, some Fidelity insider information," says Kincaid. "And they want to know what the people who have their money are doing and why they're doing it."

So

Outlook

isn't your typical marketing rag. Sure, there are the four obligatory pages of Fidelity products and marketing goo -- including an ad for President Bob Pozen's do-it-yourself video series on how to run a mutual fund. But the magazine does have some meat.

In the premier issue of

Outlook

, there's an article on tax-sensitive investing in which indexing -- the polar opposite of Fidelity's legendary stock-picking style -- is touted as something investors might what to consider. This despite the fact that indexing is the undisputed realm of Fidelity's rival,

Vanguard Group

TST Recommends

.

And

Outlook

gives you something other magazines can't -- the dope on investing straight from the mouths of Fidelity's rarely quoted managers. In another article in the premier issue, managers Erin Sullivan (

(FDEGX) - Get Report

Aggressive Growth), Stephen Petersen (

(FEQIX) - Get Report

Equity-Income) and Dick Habermann (

(FASMX) - Get Report

Asset Manager) all talk about the stocks in their portfolios.

That the magazine would not look out of place on the corner newsstand should come as no surprise.

Outlook

is not Fidelity's first foray into publishing. In 1992, Fidelity launched

Worth

magazine, also aimed at high-net-worth investors. The project had the loving support of Fidelity Chairman Ned Johnson and was the offspring of another in-house publication,

Investment Vision

.

But Fidelity, which has businesses as far flung as taxicabs and telecommunications, sold

Worth

and its

Capital Publishing

unit last year among reported losses. The move came during a push at the company to refocus on its core mutual fund business.

With a history like that,

Outlook

has raised some eyebrows, though few Fidelity watchers see the publication as another attempt at a free-standing magazine.

"I doubt very much that Fidelity would make that error in judgment

again,"says Eric Kobren, editor of

Fidelity Insight

, another independent newsletter that follows Fidelity's funds. "

Worth

was a love of Ned's. But it was not a success, and they spent a fortune on it."

But Kincaid,

Outlook's

editor, doesn't write the possibility off completely.

"I really can't imagine going for that here," says Kincaid, but "you never say never in this world."