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It turns out that I am not the only one who sees more substance in cookbooks than in investment books.


column last week pointed out the thin gruel being peddled in the market for investment books. This week's email bag brings an


from reader

Tim Gaumer

. "Wouldn't it be nice to see some books of substance for a change?" he writes. "I'd like to see something I could refer friends to when asked for a book on analyzing companies. I can't expect them to dive into textbooks."

But not all have given up hope.

Dave Siboda

wants to know: "What is the best book on technical analysis trading that covers the whole area?"

I must confess that I have never read an entire book on technical analysis. So I went to the Chartman,

Gary B. Smith

, for his recommendation.

Gary B. suggests

The Visual Investor: How to Spot Market Trends

by John J. Murphy. "There are better books on specific areas of technical analysis but not too many better on covering the myriad technical analysis topics in one place," he advises.

In at the Offering

Last week, I wrote a

column spotlighting the dreary performance of some IPOs underwritten by

Friedman Billings Ramsey



Thomas Kline

responded with his own experience chasing IPO shares as a customer of



"As a DLJdirect customer, I naively thought I would have access to IPOs ... After an issue was priced, I would get this email stating that due to overwhelming demand they could not allocate any shares to me. The tone and implied message in this email was that I was not quite their best customer. Even if this is true, a person doesn't like to be reminded of it," Kline writes.

"I became discouraged and don't even look at their offerings anymore, knowing they will offer me only what they can't get rid of. In this regard, I resent being viewed as so much a fool. My take on the IPO thing by these retail brokerages is it is used primarily for advertising purposes. But don't hold your breath waiting to receive any quality IPO."

In many instances, that does seem to be the case. IPOs are good for a brokerage firm's marketing and ad campaigns. But you may not want the underlying offering anywhere near your portfolio.

More Closure


column from a couple of weeks ago discussed what happens to funds after they close to new investors. A study conducted by

Charles Schwab's Center for Investment Research

last year revealed that the average fund becomes just that, average, after it closes. The upshot: You shouldn't be in a rush to buy a fund that's about to close.


Russ Kinnel writes to let me know that a new study seconds that notion.

Morningstar looked at funds that closed between January 1980 and June 1996 and examined the three-year performance, both before and after each closing. On average, the returns of closed funds when compared with their peers' fell to just below average from the top quintile. The median performance was in the 62nd percentile.

Morningstar attributes this downfall to the cooling off of fiery funds. A small-cap fund might surge dramatically and suck in the assets when the market for small stocks is doing well. The fund closes just as the market is starting to turn and performance naturally starts to suffer. Also, fund companies wait too long to close funds.

Another effect: Tax efficiency suffers given that no new money is flowing into the fund to dilute the impact of dividends and capital gains.

You can read more about the study at Morningstar's


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