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Money-Market Mutual Funds


Warren Buffett has been so successful picking stocks that he has attracted hordes of investors who seek to ape his every buy and sell order. The problem for followers, of course, is that federal disclosure rules allow the Oracle of Omaha to wait 45 days after the end of the quarter before revealing the contents of the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio -- his investment vehicle -- and even longer for specific stocks that are in the process of being accumulated or sold.

That should not prevent you from successfully following Buffett's moves. According to a yet unpublished research paper by Ohio University professor John Puthenpurackal and Gerald Martin, a visiting scholar at Texas A&M University, an investor who mimicked Buffett would have beaten the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index by an average of 11.6% a year from 1980 to 2003, even after accounting for the reporting lags. Buffett's picks tend to jump in price when disclosed, so the researchers didn't start measuring performance until two weeks after each filing. "Disciples can make money and beat the market," says Martin, who rates Buffett in the "100th percentile" of all investors. Puthenpurackal's and Martin's findings are to be presented on Oct. 15 at the Financial Management Assn. conference in Chicago.

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Five years ago, Kentucky's Heaven Hill Distilleries had to confront a small problem: about a quarter-silo's worth of winter wheat left over from distilling its Old Fitzgerald bourbon. How to use it up? "We do a 51% rye whiskey; why not a 51% wheat?" asked master distiller Craig Beam, grand-nephew of Jim Beam of bourbon fame. The result, Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey, may usher in a new style. It has a sweet, vanilla taste, gentler than rye, with a hint of spiciness. The 90-proof whiskey, at $40 per 750-milliliter bottle, is just hitting stores, mainly in big cities and the Southeast. Better move quickly: The first year's supply is just 15,000 bottles.


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