Skip to Content
Investing Specialists

Weekly Wrap: Stocks to Consider, 529s to Avoid, and Portfolio Makeovers

More on why investing is personal and no two investors are alike.



A couple of weeks ago in Smart Investor, I wrote about investing being personal -- it’s about having the money you need to live the life you want. This week, my colleague Christine Benz proved just how personal investing can be as she embarked on a series of Portfolio Makeovers with real investors.

Christine introduced Kate and Mark, first-time parents later in life who are juggling saving for college and retirement with saving for a home and some near-term travel. Then there’s Conrad and David, partners who’ve enjoyed their successful careers but who are looking to streamline before retirement. Jim and Ellen are retirees with a windfall to invest in a lofty market, while Lily’s a 20-something investor with competing investment goals. And then there’s Lauren and Matt, retirees who want to get their mishmash portfolio under control. 

As these makeovers illustrate, no two investors are alike. That’s why we tackle money and investing from different angles on Morningstar.com--and some of those angles will be more useful than others to you, depending on your life stage, goals, and investing temperament. For instance this week, we provided stock-pickers with new moaty ideas and undervalued stocks that crushed earnings. We shared asset-allocation tips when you have enough, and strategies for taking required minimum distributions. We discussed 529 plans to avoid and the best and worst S&P 500 funds. And for those with a nose for financial news, we provided Morningstar’s take on GE’s breakup, the latest inflation report, and Rivian’s IPO

I doubt that anyone reading this newsletter today consumed all of this content---and if you did, bless you! But more than likely, you cherry-picked among the topics and columnists that were of most interest to you as an investor. And if we’ve done our job, your cherry-picking yielded some new perspective and insights.

Speaking of columnists of interest, I’d like to raise a glass to my longtime colleague Karen Wallace, who’s leaving Morningstar to embark on her next chapter in life. Passionate about financial education and with a knack for effectively unpacking complex ideas, Karen built a prolific and wide-ranging catalog of work that covers everything from 529 education plans to ESG investing, from how to improve your credit score to how to invest like Warren Buffett, from what superdollars are to how to have a $1 million 401(k). Thanks, Karen, for helping so many become smart investors.

--Susan Dziubinski

Editor's Picks

6 Competitive Stocks to Consider
These newly rated stocks all earn Morningstar Economic Moat Ratings of narrow.

Asset Allocation When You Have Enough
What you'd like to achieve with any "extra" assets can help you calibrate your portfolio's equity exposure.

How Should Retirees Invest a Lump Sum in a Lofty Market?
A windfall will save their retirement, but elevated stock and bond prices give this couple pause.

The Best and Worst S&P 500 Funds
How much do they differ?

ARK Innovation Has Likely Been a Disappointment for Most Investors
Following a frenzy of inflows, investors are fleeing for the exits amid the fund's underperformance this year.

The Morningstar Director of Education's Greatest Hits
Karen Wallace is leaving the company after more than two decades. Here are some of her most memorable insights.

Portfolio Planning and Personal Finance With Christine Benz

First-Time Parents Balance College, Retirement Savings
With a lot in flux in their lives, how much cash is too much?

These Pre-Retirees Look Forward to the Next Chapter
But they worry that their sizable portfolio is more complicated than it needs to be.

Tips for RMD Season
Some ideas of things to think about during RMD season.

How Should Retirees Invest a Lump Sum in a Lofty Market?
A windfall will save their retirement, but elevated stock and bond prices give this couple pause.

New(ish) Investor Tries to Beat Back 'Fear of Missing Out'
A 20-something investor finds it hard to focus given her multiple competing goals.

What's a Safe Retirement Spending Rate for the Decades Ahead?
Simple tweaks can have an appreciable impact on your withdrawal rate.

Retirees Seek Direction on a 'Mishmash'
A self-taught individual investor reaches out for a second set of eyes on a portfolio that she fears has become unwieldy.

5 Lessons From Portfolio Makeover Week
Here are some key takeaways from this year's series of portfolio checkups.

Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

Ratings Changes Highlight the Risks and Opportunities of Being Unconventional
Here are some highlights from October.

Short-Term Bond Fund Investors Get Active
The trend to passive funds may be reversing here.

Seven 529 Plans to Avoid
These plans receive our lowest ratings.

Don't Know About CITs? You Probably Should
Collective investment trusts are cropping up in more retirement plans. Here’s how they differ from funds.

The Hidden Costs of the Nation’s Largest 529 Plan
Virginia’s CollegeAmerica earns praise for its investment team and underlying processes, so why does it net a just Bronze rating?

Stocks

Big Biopharma Capital Allocation Supports Undervalued Stocks and Dividend Growth
Our top two picks in this wide-moat industry are poised to benefit.

Will the SPAC Boom Benefit Investment Banks?
Two names are well-positioned to capitalize on potential SPAC opportunities.

7 Undervalued Stocks That Crushed Earnings
These stocks crushed third-quarter expectations and remain undervalued.

Big Biotech Shares Take a Wild Ride
As the post-pandemic pharma landscape takes shape, Moderna and BioNTech slide, Pfizer rallies.

4 Housing Stocks Still Standing Despite Supply Chain Issues
A building-materials shortage hasn’t helped the short supply of homes.

6 Competitive Stocks to Consider
These newly rated stocks all earn Morningstar Economic Moat Ratings of narrow.

What’s Next for Rivian After a Supercharged IPO?
Even with a sound business strategy, hot new stocks often run out of steam.

Facebook Is Under Fire, but It's Also Undervalued
With a new name--Meta Platforms--the company still faces controversy, but it's also the most attractive social-media play in our coverage.

Rekenthaler Report

The Best and Worst S&P 500 Funds
How much do they differ?

What to Know About Capital Gains Distributions
Why they matter for taxable accounts.

Advisor Insights

What’s a Widow to Do With Inherited Retirement Accounts?
Here's a checklist of potential tax issues and elections.

The Long View Podcast

Charles Rotblut: 'It's the Dot-Com Bubble All Over Again'
The author and AAII Journal editor discusses the concept of 'dumb money' and how small investors can gain an edge.

Sustainability Matters

These European ETFs That Track Official Climate Benchmarks Receive the Low Carbon Designation
Today, some 30 European ETFs are tracking official climate transition benchmarks. Ten have the low-carbon designation. Expect that number to increase soon.

These ESG Funds Have Style
A look at how ESG integration interacts with style biases.

3 Solid Climate Tech Funds for Investors
These strategies should play only a bit part in a diversified portfolio.

What Banks' Climate Pledges Mean for Energy and Utility Stocks
Capital controlled by net-zero supporters now matches what’s needed to transform global economy, group says.

Commentary

Tackling the Pyramid of Advisor Influence
Author of “The Better Letter” Bob Seawright breaks down how human behavior and decision-making influences how investors interact with their finances.

ARK Innovation Has Likely Been a Disappointment for Most Investors
Following a frenzy of inflows, investors are fleeing for the exits amid the fund's underperformance this year.

An ATM in Today’s Slot-Machine World
Annuities are a path for investors who want to achieve security, not play games.

How Can Advisors Help Assemble a Secure Retirement Income Solution?
Advisors can play a key role in popularizing annuities and providing greater retirement security.

Most Requested Stock Quotes

Tesla
PayPal Holdings Inc
Apple
NVIDIA Corp
Microsoft

Most Requested Fund Quotes

Vanguard 500 Index Admiral
Fidelity 500 Index
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index
Dodge & Cox Stock
T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation

Most Requested ETF Quotes

Invesco QQQ Trust
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust
Vanguard S&P 500 ETF
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF
Schwab U.S. Dividend Equity ETF