CAPITAL IDEAS: REWARDING INVESTMENTS FOR A WEAK D

If you're dreaming of a lavish European vacation, the weak dollar's not likely to stop you. But when you're thinking about your portfolio, the fact that the dollar is in the dungeon, bumping along at record lows against the euro, might give you pause. The weak greenback makes foreign stocks and bonds very pricey for Americans. Not to worry. There are still some rewarding ways to invest your anemic dollars. Here are some pointers.

Choose your story. Bad news begets bad news, and almost everyone now says the dollar will continue to fall, the victim of low interest rates, trade imbalances, a popular European currency and a Bush administration that's not going to bolster the buck. But that pessimism is a sign that the dollar may be near the bottom of its skid. "Everyone who was going to sell them has sold them," says Barbara Rockefeller, a Southbury, Conn., currency analyst. She sees rising interest rates, deficit fixes and a strong stock market bumping up the dollar. Bottom line? You could bet either way and there would be analysts who agree.

Place those bets. If you think the dollar will continue to slide, buy foreign stock and bond funds that don't hedge their currency risk. Then you'll earn income in foreign currencies that will then be converted into cheaper dollars. T. Rowe Price funds, such as the International Stock Fund, are known for not hedging. The Franklin Templeton Hard Currency Fund is a short-term foreign bond fund that's as close to an anti-dollar bet as you can make in a mutual fund, says Andrew Clark, an analyst with Lipper. But if you think the dollar will reverse course, make sure your foreign funds hedge the currency risk, says Morningstar, which recommends the Tweedy, Browne Global Value fund.

Invest locally. The first companies to flourish in a weak dollar environment are huge U.S. firms that export a lot. You can find them in a plain-vanilla Standard and Poor's 500 Index fund. With all the money you'll make, that trip you've been dying to take will work out just fine.

CAPITAL IDEAS: REWARDING INVESTMENTS FOR A WEAK D | News