The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 50 - September 3, 2008

BUSINESS


Southern Belle ready to serve you

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND Dawn Dugger and Andrea Spring
sit at one of the outside tables among fountains and
foliage at Southern Belle bakery and cafe.

BRADENTON – The long-awaited Southern Belle bakery and café opened yesterday in the Manatee West Shopping Center at the corner of Manatee Avenue West and 75th Street.

"We tried to stay comfortable and friendly," Dawn Dugger, who opened the business with her sister Andrea Spring, said. "We’re a bakery and neighborhood restaurant."

"With reasonable prices," Spring added. "With the economic situation, we wanted to appeal to a wide range of people – families, singles, retirees, professionals. We’re not pretentious or expensive."

The two cooked up the idea of the business after Spring’s victories in the Crisco National Pie Championships over the past two years. In 2007, she won first place in the citrus division and best overall with her key lime pie and a first place in the "other" category with her Chocolate Espresso Explosion.

In 2008,she returned to win first place in the nut category with her Key West crunch pie and an honorable mention for her apple oatmeal crunch pie.

The sisters began with a Web site to sell baked goods, corporate gifts and gift baskets and it evolved into the bakery/cafe concept.

"We started looking for a storefront and ended up here," Spring explained. "What’s really funny is that our uncle, Dr. Robert White, built this shopping center. He also was one of the founders of Blake Hospital.

"We rented one storefront, then when we came back from this year’s pie competition, the adjacent storefront was available. We took it too and had the wall torn out and installed partitions."

Diners have the choice of sitting inside at tables or the counter covered in replicas of vintage Florida postcards with the aroma of fresh baked goods wafting through the room or outside at tales set among soothing fountains and foliage. The outdoor area is pet friendly.

The brunch menu includes fresh baked rolls and biscuits, your choice of quiche, croissants, bagels and toast. There are appetizers from fish dip to escargot, soups from crab to pulled pork chili and salads from plates to greens to sides. Sandwiches come hot or cold and include Po’ Boys and pressed favorites.

If you’re feeling the need for a caffeine kick after all that food, you can choose from espresso, cappuccino or other specialties and accompany it with a dessert including key lime pie, bread pudding and Belle’s espresso, caramel brownie Sundae.

Don’t forget to take home a bag of fresh baked goods or Spring’s special cupcakes. And if you’re planning a wedding, Spring offers cupcake wedding cakes and wedding favors.

The sisters are planning to add beer and wine to the menu soon. Another coming feature will be a Southern food area where you can shop for cookbooks, gifts and specialties such as key lime juice, and pralines. Their Web site will be completed soon, and the address is southernbelle.com.

Southern Belle Bakery and Café

7414 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
941-794-3702
Hours: Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Weekends during season

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Investor results improving, but could be better

I have previously referenced data which shows individual investors, as a group, fail to achieve results nearly as good as those offered to patient investors who simply bought and held average stock and bond mutual funds through all of the market’s ups and downs.

Dalbar, a research firm that monitors trends and service levels in the financial services industry, recently published its 2008 study of the results achieved by the typical mutual fund investor, compared to the returns available from using a buy and hold or systematic approach to investing in funds. This latest report shows that stock fund investors are doing a little bit better than a few years ago, but still not achieving full potential, while bond fund investors are doing poorly compared to the returns potentially available during the time period in question.

Dalbar’s study revealed that the average investor in stock funds achieved a 4.5 percent average annual rate of return over the 20 years ending Dec. 31, 2007, about 7 percent less than the 11.5 percent a buy and hold approach of an S&P 500 Index fund would have produced. As a result, these equity investors outpaced inflation by just over 1.4 percent instead of the 8 percent the stock market averages achieved.

Surprisingly, buyers of fixed income bond funds did worse, achieving a average annual return of the 20-year period of about 1.6 percent, while the Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, a general barometer for the domestic bond market, averaged over 7 percent annualized. I would have expected the average investor in bond funds to do better since these funds are less volatile and easier for investors to stay in for longer periods of time without being scared off by excessive volatility.

However, I suspect the poor results of the fixed income investors are related to their poor efforts of trying to hop in and out of the stocks market, and their bond investment results suffer because of it. I have long said that the two main causes of sub-par investment results for individual investors relate to lack of a diversified investment plan and a lack of discipline to stick to the plan.

There is no shortage of examples of general investor behavior buying asset categories after multi-year runs of above average performance, only to find themselves investing in what they believe will continue to be a big winner, just prior to the next correction. Adding insult to injury, the funds they just sold because they had been performing poorly have now suddenly come to life and are one of the best performers.

The 2008 Dalbar study goes on to point out that these investors would have achieved better results by using a systematic, scheduled investment plan to put new investment capital to work, rather than putting new money into the plan when they feel good about the market. This feeling, of course, occurs after periods of great performance and when the next period of time has lower potential for return. This process of scheduled deposits is known as dollar cost averaging, and involves making monthly or quarterly deposits to your investment account during the accumulation phase of your wealth-building plan.

The advantage of the dollar cost averaging approach is that, assuming you stay disciplined, you won’t feel the need to sell portfolio holdings during the inevitable performance lulls because you are buying more each month as your new deposits are made to the plan. In essence, dollar cost averaging forces you to buy low, which is the right idea.

Another forced sell-high-buy-low"strategy is one we have reviewed many times. Portfolio rebalancing back to an appropriate target allocation is used by most sophisticated institutional investors to stay away from large mistakes caused by emotional decisions. Rebalancing is a simple process which can be applied once a year or so to avoid having too much of your investment capital in a market segment about to undergo a correction.

Good luck, and good investing.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.


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