The Motley Fool: Every Sunday, useful tips on investing
Q: The I bond was paying zero percent a few years ago. Has its interest rate risen yet?
A: Yes, it’s 1.38 percent through April.
Series I bonds are designed to offer interest rates tied to inflation, which was negative in 2009, but is positive now.
Their interest rates have two components: a fixed rate that lasts for 30 years, and an inflation rate that changes every May 1 and Nov. 1. If you expect inflation to rise in the future, I Bonds can help you keep up with it.
Still, consider top-quality, dividend-paying stocks, too, as they offer regular income plus probable capital appreciation over time.
Dear Fool: My dumbest investment was paying to learn forex online. I was promised returns of 30 to 40 percent if I just followed the daily trades I was shown. I didn’t realize what wonderfully great liars salespeople can be!
The Fool responds: The foreign exchange market, or FX, or forex, is used by everyone from tourists to multinational corporations to central banks to do business and maintain stability.
It can be handy for some savvy investors in some situations. But when beginning investors and even seasoned ones use it to make speculative bets, it can be a dangerous place.
Many people who invested significant sums in the foreign exchange market have been wiped out when currencies don’t move in expected ways. A 2011 Los Angeles Times article noted that at two key forex brokerages, “customers are losing money in spectacular fashion.”
Beware of anyone promising fat investment returns in exchange for your hard-earned money. Most of us would do well to avoid forex entirely, sticking with more dependable stocks and bonds. Think of successful investing as a marathon, not a get-rich-quick sprint.
Before “affordable luxury” retailer Michael Kors (NYSE: KORS) reported its latest quarterly results recently, Wall Street was expecting less than $860 million in sales.
Instead, Michael Kors delivered $1 billion, with sales surging 59 percent over year-ago levels. Earnings per share soared 73 percent.
The company is growing at the expense of slower (or fading) competitors. While Michael Kors delivered a whopping increase of 51 percent in North American sales in its last quarter, Coach announced a decline of 9 percent in total sales.
Fashion is generally a fickle and competitive business, but Michael Kors is achieving hefty profit margins by differentiating itself with brand value and exclusive designs.
It’s also doing so in a challenging economic environment in which many other retailers are blaming the unusually cold weather and lackluster consumer spending for their weak results.
Michael Kors has plenty of room for expansion, both in the U.S. and in global markets, especially if demand remains as hot as it is.
Management believes it has room for nearly 700 global retail stores, versus a recent total of 395.
The stock trades at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio near 25. That’s hardly excessive for such an extraordinary growth company, so you might want to take a closer look.