The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 9 - November 19, 2008

BUSINESS

Webb offers big firm services on a personal scale

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Chuck Webb

What’s the one thing you can do on a regular basis that doesn’t cost money and enriches your life? Donate your time to public service. Chuck Webb has been doing just that for most of his adult life in a variety of ways, and knows firsthand the rewards it yields.

After college, Webb served three years of active duty as a captain in the Marines before attending law school and was subsequently admitted to the Florida Bar in 1986. His credentials include working for the State Attorney’s Office in Brevard County andas assistant county attorney for both Broward and Charlotte counties, accruing five years of environmental legislative experience.

In addition to his career with the Marines, Webb served in the United States Army Reserves as a colonel in the Judge Advocate General Branch (JA) from which he recently retired. While in the Army Reserves he was mobilized and served active duty in Bosnia.

Webb moved to Anna Maria with his wife and daughter in 2001 and started his law practice, which encompasses everything from wills, trusts and real estate to environmental and land use. His partners and fellow Army Reserve officers, Dennis Wells and Barry Williams, are experts in eminent domain, commercial litigation, debtor’s rights and government contracts. Their knowledge combined with Webb’s local knowledge of environmental and land use, real estate and general law, gives their firm a level of expertise equivalent to larger law firms. In addition Webb is a member of both the Anna Maria Island Chamber and the Manatee County Bar Association.

With real estate currently being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Webb feels it’s critical to point out that employing an attorney for a real estate transaction is more important than ever. A real estate attorney like Webb who is affiliated with a title insurance company, can process the required title work as well as providing legal advice and protection at no additional cost. Interpreting mortgage papers can be intimidating to buyers and frequently require a trained professional to verify there are no misrepresentations.

But serving in the military and practicing law is only part of Webb’s story. His belief in public service is not just rhetoric, he is deeply involved in his community and has served on the Anna Maria City Commission and the Anna Maria Planning and Zoning Board. On Nov. 4, he was elected, once again, to serve on the Anna Maria City Commission. He said that his legal experience working in Florida local government and his military background make him uniquely qualified to deal with and understand engineering and technical legal issues associated with running a city. He feels it is local government’s job to protect the rights of all citizens by instituting good policies and procedures.

"The best news you can hear from your city commissioners is no news," he said.

Webb’s law practice offers big legal firm services on a personal scale, not just a number that translates into billable hours. His experience and commitment to public service has given him the ability to tackle legal problems from a variety of perspectives. Webb thinks everyone should perform some sort of public service, and there is no doubt that not only does he practice law but also what he preaches

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Picking market bottoms is tough to do

Whether you can honestly say you saw the financial crisis coming, or whether you are like most investors and had a diversified plan to help see you through market corrections and still got a nasty surprise this time around, it has not been a lot of fun for the last 15 months.

The stock market and corporate bond markets set many records for bad performance recently, particularly in October when forced selling by large hedge funds and mutual funds was the literally throwing the babies out with the bathwater.

These hedge funds are highly leveraged vehicles which use a lot of borrowed money to buy investments. Disappointing performance was leading to a wave of withdrawals from these funds, which had promoted themselves as a lower risk alternative to investing in stocks and bonds. To raise the cash necessary to give the investors their money back, massive sales of securities had to take place, which resulted in the dramatic market decline and volatility of the last several weeks.

No two market declines are exactly the same and a review shows that forming a bottom for prices, from which an upward move can begin, is more of a process than a moment in time. Sure, with the benefit of hindsight we can look back at a chart and say which exact day marked the end of a bear market, but without that hindsight and needing to make decisions as investors today, understanding the big picture can be helpful.

It’s not important to invest at the exact bottom or sell at the exact top to be successful. The most important lesson of time, one we are now being reminded about by the most successful investors, is just not to do the opposite. In other words, don’t buy at the top when everything looks rosy and sell at the bottom when it looks bad. That is the sure way to investment failure.

So, for those who have ridden the correction downward, it is too late to join the panic. Headlines about the economy may be bad for quite a while to come, but that reality is factored into stock prices, hence the large decline recently, and we believe stock prices will move up in advance of the headlines becoming good again.

This market correction has been about as severe as they get if we look back at past financial and economic crisis. Barring another Great Depression, which my articles of a couple weeks ago made the case against a recurrence of that terrible event, we have likely seen the bulk of the decline. No one can say that with certainty though, so sticking with a sound allocation plan is still the right thing to do, rather than banking on guesswork and then finding out you were wrong.

I expect we will continue to see a volatile environment for the next several weeks, including possible "re-tests" of the lows for the major stock averages set back in October. This is normal, and is part of the process of setting a floor from which the market can move higher.

The successful and famous investor, Warren Buffett recently submitted an op-ed piece for the New York Times. It is a great 10 minute read to gain some perspective from a renowned investor whose wisdom can help average investor see their way through tough times. Here’s a quote from that article, and I have provided the link to the full version below.

"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now."

Link to full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/opinion/17buffett.html

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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