Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the investing world has changed – in a big way. The “Gilded Age” of the ’90s in the stock market is over.

If you want to make money in the next five years in the stock market, then you are going to have to forget what happened in the ’90s – “It don’t matter no more!”

No longer will stocks rise sharply because some wunderkind at a street-firm with a fresh MBA under his or her belt releases a report predicting XYZ stock will triple in the next month. Fluff is out.

Nope, you have to lower your expectations, and get real.

Here is a portfolio we recently designed for a client that we believe will return 15 to 18 percent annualized over the next 10 years to 20 years. (Of course, we can guarantee nothing.)

Drugs: (15 percent) Merck (NYSE: MRK), Genentech (NYSE: DNA), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE).

Energy: (15 percent) Exxon (NYSE: XOM), British Petroleum (NYSE: BP), Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB), Fording Coal (NYSE: FDG), and Pan Canadian Energy (NYSE: PCX).

Food: (15 percent) Sysco (NYSE: SYY), Hershey’s (NYSE: HSY), Pepsi (NYSE: PEP), and Smithfield Foods (NYSE: SFD).

Railroads: (15 percent) Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE: CP), Burlington Northern (NYSE: BNI), Florida East Coast Railway (NYSE: FLA), and Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU).

Financial: (15 percent) Berkshire-Hathaway (NYSE: BRK/a/or/b), Leucadia Corp. (NYSE: LUK), American International Group (NYSE: AIG), Wilmington Bank & Trust (NYSE: WL), and East West Bancorp (Nasdaq: EWBC).

All of these stocks are pretty much one-decision stocks. That means that, while we will still monitor the portfolio, for the most part these are good stocks for all seasons. A good example of that is what has happened since Sept. 11. Most of these stocks are now higher than they were prior to 9-11. That confirms our belief that we are in the right place. What happened on Sept. 11 has not hurt the future of these stocks one bit.

These five groups comprising 21 different stocks make up 75 percent of our recommended portfolio. For the other 25 percent, we will gamble a bit, with stocks that we do not think are one-decision stocks, but will be good performers over the near-term.

Technology, Telecom, and Defense: (25 percent) Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Tetra-Tech (Nasdaq: TTEK), Alltel (NYSE: AT), L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL), Edo Corp. (NYSE: EDO), Level 3 (Nasdaq: LVLT), Applied Signal Technologies (Nasdaq: APSG), EMC Technologies (Nasdaq: ELMG), and FTI Consulting (NYSE: FCN).

This is a well-diversified portfolio prepared to meet the coming times.

Too many of us when we invest want to look in the rear-view mirror. Resist the temptation to look back at the old favorites. They are over, the bubble has burst, and it will not be reborn. The stock market does not swallow spin. It is as real a place as you will ever be, and you want to own the high-class dominators that can make it through thick and thin.

We are entering a time where luxury items and anything of that ilk are out.

Look around you and see what is occurring. People are cutting back on things they can do without. Then, there are the basic things we must have – and that is what we have put in the above portfolio.

This uncertainty about our future will not go away by Christmas, or anytime soon after that. Because of that, you must adjust your investing themes to meet the changing times.

We had a lot of silliness in our society that needed correcting. You could see it on the news every night as the media chased around some hapless congressman, repeating the same mindless tripe, night after night. We had whiners complaining about the fact that someone was taking their picture when they ran stop lights. The one thing recent events have done is make us focus on what is really important in life. It has taken some of the vanity out of our system (hey, that’s good!).

So that is why Amazon was worth $200 a share two years ago, and it is selling for $7 today. (And we would venture sometime next year Amazon will disappear from the scene altogether.)

The stock market can be a brutal place. As the old saying goes, the stock does not know, nor care, what you paid for it. There is an auction everyday, and on that particular day, that is what the stock is worth, plain and simple.

Don’t be carried away by the mountebanks and shills that want to sell you false hope. You worked hard to save your money so don’t sell yourself short by buying into some hare-brained scheme from someone whose only interest is getting a piece of your action.

At this time in the markets, you need to know whom you can trust, and who is selling you hot air. There are many portfolios around that are still filled with hot air, and the sound you will be hearing in the next six months will be the sound of more hot air coming out of the pretenders.

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