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    Investment Oasis

    When looking for the right stocks to buy for your retirement, it makes the decision process so much easier if you start with a successful economy.

    Right now, most of the traditional leaders of the globe’s economies aren’t faring that well.

    The United States has seen its economy slip back again. Last week saw the revised gross domestic product data for the fourth quarter of 2012 showing a meager .4 percent advance — if you can call that an advance. This was a bit better than what was initially estimated at a barely there .1 percent, but it was significantly down from the third quarter’s 3.1 percent number.

    And while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average might be up a bit so far this year, both of these indexes are really just barely above water if you look back over the past several years. And even for this year, within the Dow, three of the 30 are down further, and 23 of the 30 are up less than 10 percent.

    For the S&P 500, 73 are down further so far this year and 234 of the 500 have barely made single-digit gains. Some rally.

    In Europe, the European Union keeps going from one crisis to another with the usual riots that we get to see on the evening news. Locals start coming out with their torches and pitchforks as governments seek to take from those that have to give to those that wasted their money.

    The result is that the EU is considered to be back in recession with the last two reported quarters showing a drop in its gross domestic product of -.6 and -.9 percent, making it a challenge to find successful companies in the economy. No wonder for U.S.-based investors, the EuroStoxx Index tracking the broad market for EU-based stocks is down for the count by some -1.2 percent so far this year.

    And good old Japan continues to be in recession with the last two quarters alone seeing further contractions in its GDP equating to -.3 percent and -1 percent. No wonder the nation’s leading stock market index, the Nikkei 225, has 64 of the 225 stocks tracked down again so far this year and 114 of the stocks making single-digit recoveries.

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    Growth Is Good

    So, how about you go for a market that’s in an economy that’s actually growing?

    Last week I wrote about one such economy and market in Thai One On about the Thai economy and market and two great ways to cash in on this strong opportunity via a favored closed-end investment company and the nation’s leading communications company.

    Now, I want to show you another great opportunity in Singapore.

    Singapore is a small nation that has been an investment and political oasis in the Asian region for generations.

    With the local economy continuing to plug along with growth expanding by 3.3 percent, the nation is thriving.

    The current account, a total measure of trade and investment flows, is running at a very positive 19.5 percent of the nation’s GDP, reflecting investment and trade surpluses.

    Unemployment is running at only 1.8 percent. And with such numbers it should be no surprise that the government manages its finances quite well, resulting in a nice surplus that’s running at 2 percent of the nation’s overall economy.

    With the good economy comes a good stock market. The Straits Times Index (FSSTI) is up for the past year by some 16 percent and up more than 39.5 percent over the past three years, as well for U.S.-based investors.

    The two ways to cash in start with a favored company of mine: Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SGPRF). Trading at about $3.57 a share, the company pays a nice 5.48 percent dividend and continues to benefit from a stronger Singapore dollar against the U.S. dollar.

    Singapore Press Holdings Limited

    The company runs newspapers and related broadcast media. And while its peers in the United States keep seeing revenues fall by more than 50 percent over the past five years and circulation fall by more than 10 percent, Singapore Press continues to see double-digit overall gains with ample margins.

    The stock delivers, with gains for the past year of more than 19.5 percent and for the past five years up more than 54.5 percent for U.S. investors.

    The second play is The Singapore Fund, Inc. (SGF). This is run by the Asian investment specialist company Aberdeen. The fund gives you broad access to the local market, including Singapore Press Holdings.

    The Singapore Fund, Inc.

    The return for the past year is an ample 18 percent and for the past three years running at 30 percent. And it pays a dividend yield of more than 9 percent.

    — Neil George

    Neil George is the editor of By George, an investment advisory publication. George was the editor of Personal Finance for many years. In addition, he served as editor for a collection of other investment journals published in the United States, Germany and other selected nations. Prior to his career in media, George worked for more than two decades on six continents in senior positions with a select group of financial institutions in investment banking, bond trading, brokerage and asset management. The institutions included Merrill Lynch International Bank in Europe, Asia and the Americas, as well as U.S. Bank and British- and Chinese-based Investec PLC. In addition, George worked to build a collection of independent public and private brokerage and fund-management companies in Los Angeles and New York. He also currently serves as an adjunct professor and board member of Webster University's Walker School of Business and Technology. George earned an MBA in international finance from Webster University in Europe and a bachelor's degree in economics from Kings College.

    | All posts from Neil George

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