Data: ResumeDoctor.com Dog owners don't have to suffer with their pet's morning breath all day long. At least that's the message from Chomp (chompinc.com), maker of Yip-Yap doggie breath mints. Chomp has launched the First Annual Worst Dog Breath Contest, where dog lovers convince the company in 300 words or less why their dogs should win. Apply on the Web site up until the May 2 deadline. First prize is the chance to get your dog's photo printed on the paper liner of all Yip-Yap tins for one year. For the past couple of years, one of the few sorts of mutual funds to rake in the money has been "principal protected funds." With the bear market ravaging portfolios, they have a lot of appeal. They promise to return your investment if stocks tank, plus some appreciation if they rise. Now, the NASD is warning investors not to buy them. "You'll pay for this security with higher than average fund expenses and potentially lower long-term capital gains," the NASD wrote in its "Investor Alert" series (nasdr.com/alerts.asp).
Indeed, these funds charge annual expense ratios of up to 2% (often on top of sales charges of up to 5.5%), vs. an average expense ratio of 1.32% for regular mutual funds that also mix stocks and bonds. Other pitfalls include requirements that you lock your money up for as long as 10 years -- or risk forfeiting the guarantee -- and pay taxes on interest income that you won't see until the lockups expire. The NASD also advises investors to be wary of claims that these funds will beat the S&P 500. While protected funds do well in bear markets, they're likely to lag if stocks rally. It broke all box-office records in Japan and won the Oscar for best animated feature in the U.S. Now, Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away arrives in a two-disk DVD set ($30) this month. Best extras are a Japanese TV special on the making of the film and how they dubbed it into English.