AOL Time Warner ( AOL): Sell on accounting worries, or buy because investors have overreacted? Citigroup ( C): Sell because it was in bed with Enron, or buy because these loans are immaterial to Citigroup's bottom line? WorldCom ( WCOM): Sell because CEO Bernie Ebbers is going to have to dump millions of shares to meet margin loans, or buy because the stock is ridiculously cheap? These are the kinds of questions running through investors' minds as the stock market struggles through a crisis of confidence. I don't think it's possible just to ignore the whole problem -- especially if you're a long-term, buy-and-hold-oriented investor who has built the core of a portfolio around these kinds of blue-chip names. Even deciding to hold on is, after all, a decision. And in this environment, when a stock can lose 10% or more of its value overnight, holding on to the wrong stock can be quite expensive indeed.
In this column I'm going to tell you how I'd approach this tough market for 10 blue-chips. My scorecard for a group that includes American Express ( AXP), AIG ( AIG), AOL Time Warner, Cisco Systems ( CSCO), Citigroup, Duke Energy ( DUK), General Electric ( GE), Merrill Lynch ( MER), Pfizer ( PFE), and WorldCom is five buys, four waits and one sell. Which stock got which score? Read on and see if you agree. (All ratings are for long-term investors who will hold for five years or more.)