In Brief: Sep. 17, 2001

STOCK ON WOOD You'd expect hard assets to do well in a down market, so here's a suggestion: 2-by-4s. Companies that harvest trees for lumber are amassing impressive records on the Street. Returns on timber investments were up 4.2% last year, while the S&P sank 9.1%. In the past 30 years, the annual average return on timber was 15.2%, against 13.2% for the S&P 500 index. Behind the strong performance: a resilient home-building sector. If housing stays strong, so will timber. As there's no mutual fund that's a pure play on timber, investors need to seek out specific companies, like Plum...

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