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RICHARD ASHTON

71, retired, St. Petersburg

Q. How did you get started in investing?

I had a couple of thousand dollars when I left a job in 1968. I put the money in Pan American and Disney.

Q. What is your best investment so far?

Disney stock and Pepsi-Cola. I bought four shares of Disney at $200. I have given shares to each of my grandchildren and I still have 500 shares left. It just kept splitting.

Q. What have you learned about investing that you think all investors should know?

Don't take tips from individuals or brokers. I think, frankly, most of my investments are in retirement accounts. Haven't done any individual investing since I retired (in 2000).

Q. How would you describe your approach to investing?

I don't recommend my approach to anybody else. I don't apply my time to research. I describe my approach as seat-of-the-pants. I invest in companies whose financial reports I'm curious about.

Q. What do you find the most difficult about investing?

The most difficult thing is being satisfied with the results without getting upset when things go adversely. You have to be patient. If you get more displeasure when the stock goes down than you get pleasure when it goes up, then you shouldn't invest in stocks at all.

Q. How are you invested now?

Most of my investment is in retirement plans spread out in funds allocated between bonds and stocks, and 20 percent in direct stocks. If interest rates go up 6 to 7 percent, I might switch over to bonds.

Q. What is your goal for your investments?

My goal is to enjoy life and live on minimum distribution of my retirement.

Q. What is your biggest money concern right now?

My group health insurance I had with a former employer is being changed; I have to pick a new program. Now I have to analyze how much additional cost I will have for prescription drugs. What else are they going to do to us in terms of health plans? Having to pick a health plan is a difficult thing _ harder than picking an investment.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent

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