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Special Report's Ideas Week

Dec. 6-10, 2010.

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Although we've come a long way from the abyss of 2008, most investors would be hard-pressed to say we're completely out of the woods just yet. Lingering European debt concerns, a possible slowdown in China, a still-high unemployment rate, a troublesome low-yield environment, and a murky outlook for fixed income are casting some shadows on the path ahead.

This year for Ideas Week, we'll be tackling some of these major concerns with actionable tips, insights, and investment picks--including a live webcast panel hosted by Morningstar's Pat Dorsey on Monday, Dec. 6 at 12 p.m. Central Time (see below for more details).

So bookmark this page and visit us throughout the week; we will post links to each day's lineup every morning. We'll also be asking you for your own related picks, tips, and strategies throughout the week, and look forward to hearing your feedback. 

Ideas on the Economy and the Market: Monday, Dec. 6
Morningstar's Pat Dorsey kicks off Ideas Week with a live webcast roundtable discussion covering the market's opportunities and risks today. Joining him are Ariel's vice chairman, director of research and  Ariel Focus (ARFFX) co-manager Charlie Bobrinskoy; Tom Forester of  Forester Value Fund (FVALX); and Leuthold director of research and Leuthold Global (GLBLX) co-manager Doug Ramsey. Plus, Morningstar's Bob Johnson will offer his latest health check on the U.S. economy, and Christine Benz brings the discussion to the portfolio level, outlining what actions investors should (and shouldn't) undertake in light of today's dilemmas--including a spike in interest rates, the possibility for future inflation, the potential for continued market volatility, and higher taxes.

Core Ideas for Portfolio (Re)Building: Tuesday, Dec. 7
After a tumultuous few years in the market, investors' portfolios may have taken on a different look and feel--either through their own actions or as a result of the market's gyrations. On Tuesday, we'll help investors get back to basics and build (or refurbish) their portfolios with core investment ideas that can form a solid foundation.   

  • We highlight some topnotch core funds with reasonable expenses that, in various proportions, could form the building blocks for a wide variety of portfolios and different time horizons. Click here for more.
  • Although ETFs offer investors more trading flexibility than traditional funds, these low-cost vehicles can also serve long-term, strategic investors' needs. Morningstar ETF analyst Mike Rawson offers up some of our favorite ETFs for portfolio-building in this special report. Click here for more.
  • In search of real diversification? Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser investigates the correlation data to see just how much diversification investors have seen across and within various asset classes. Click here for more.
  • As the alternatives space heats up, Morningstar's Christine Benz checks in with alternatives analyst Nadia Papagiannis to get a handle on when, why, and which alternative investments to consider for inclusion in a portfolio. Click here for more.
  • Lastly, StockInvestor editor and core stock strategist Paul Larson gives us the lowdown on his latest pick for the StockInvestor portfolios, and a top stock on his watch list. Click here for more. Click here for more.
  • Discuss: What Investments Form the Core of Your Portfolio?

Income Ideas: Wednesday, Dec. 8
Perhaps the biggest dilemma facing investors in or nearing retirement is the current low-yield environment, which has forced some to contemplate increasingly risky assets in search of a viable income return on their holdings. Given this, Wednesday's lineup will be focused on giving income investors some context and perspective, rooting out prudent income investments, identifying pitfalls, and using a total return approach to meet income needs.  

Defensive Ideas: Thursday, Dec. 9
Though the S&P has returned a strong 13%-14% over the last three months, the market has hit a few bumps recently, with sovereign debt problems in Europe and concerns over a slowdown in China surfacing to remind us that volatility is not out of the cards. Meanwhile, worries over possible inflation and rising rates--even if they aren't imminent--cloud the outlook for fixed-income investments. On Thursday, we're taking a closer look at how investors can tune their portfolios to some of these uncertainties and set the right expectations. 

Opportunistic Ideas: Friday, Dec. 10
For investors ready to put some money to work, we'll close Ideas Week with a survey of our analysts' top opportunistic picks across a variety of asset classes and investment vehicles.

  • Jeremy Glaser checks in with Morningstar's OpportunisticInvestor team--which looks for smaller, lesser known companies in search of growing economic moats--to hear about their latest discoveries. Click for more.
  • Esther Pak screens for topnotch bargain-hunting stock funds to uncover some active managers with a proven record of execution in choppy markets. Click for more.
  • Morningstar's ETF team, which runs a hands-on portfolio in their ETFInvestor newsletter, says emerging-markets investors willing to look a bit harder can find richer opportunities beyond the largest exchange-traded funds. Also hear about recent opportunities in the credit markets from our credit research team.
  • With the markets performing pretty well over the last three months, many great businesses are priced just a little too richly for our tastes, but still deserve a place on investors' radars. Heather Brilliant, director of securities research, highlights some favorites that are well worth a look should the market pull back. Click for more.
  • Lastly, we recognize that good ideas sometimes involve not doing something (in other words, avoiding loss). On that note, we take a look at a few businesses that may look enticing from a fundamental point of view, but are up against some pretty lofty valuations and expectations.  Click for more.
  • Discuss: What Is Your "Highest Hopes" Idea today?

Jason Stipp does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.