Long-term Treasury bonds called 'best bets'


HERE ARE some suggestions to improve your financial picture:

"Bonds are now more attractive than stocks, following the Fed's three recent rate hikes," says the Interest Rate Futures newsletter. "The best bets are long-term Treasuries, whose yields will fall and prices rise. Important: Focus on total return -- yield plus gain -- which should exceed 20 percent over the next year."

LOOK OFFSHORE: "I have 30 percent of my 401[k] in an international fund. Foreign funds are less popular now that U.S. stocks have soared, but U.S. large-caps can't continue their record pace. Seventy percent in U.S. stocks and 30 percent in internationals should bring a 12 percent return with less risk than just domestic equities." (John Rekenthaler, fund manager, Morningstar Inc.)

WARNING: "Watch that pension! Checking your employer's math may be difficult, but you can confirm what assumptions were used to calculate your pension, i.e., length of service, highest-earning years, The law requires you to receive at least one pension statement annually." (National Center for Retirement Benefits Inc.)

WALL STREET WATCH: "I'm very bullish on stocks. Inflation is low, the budget deficit eliminated and corporate profits are solid." (Edward Kerschner, investment chairman, PaineWebber Inc.)

"High-yielding income stocks can lower your risk and still give you a shot at market-beating returns." (Michael Sivy in Money, December)

"Lots of sideline cash will move stocks higher. Investors hate to grab high-priced tech stocks at this point, but they have no choice because the train is pulling out of the station without them." (Bill Schneider, Warburg Dillon Read)

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