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Jason Hall (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) -- Years of experience have taught Janet Rannenberg to keep her investments where they are despite what the CNBC ticker says.

"I am not letting that panic me," said Rannenberg, a Punta Gorda Isles retiree who is active with the Isles Investment Club. "I was fully aware when I bought stocks that they could go down."

But in Rannenberg's experience, stocks go back up again, and that is what keeps her calm even as Wall Street quivers.

While world and national markets roil seemingly every time Cisco announces layoffs or Alan Greenspan's stomach growls, individual investors -- those whose money keeps the Wall Street turbines turning -- need to stay calm and stay in the market, say experienced investors in Southwest Florida.

Ed Zolik is a Sarasota psychologist who spends a lot of his time volunteering to teach others what he's learned about investing -- not from business school, but from years of experience in a free market economy.

Zolik is apt to ignore many brokers and financial analysts because too many of them are so young that they've never even seen a recession and don't know what it means to ride out the storm.

"So much of this is hype," he said of the latest market rumblings. "You have to distinguish between whether a person is a trader or is in it for the long haul."

The "long haul" comes up often when speaking to Rannenberg. As an individual investor, a club investor and a volunteer teacher, she keeps up with trends in the market, but tries not to let those trends interfere with common sense.

"When I show people the charts of the past few months, and it's a zig-zag, it's enough to give you ulcers on top of your ulcers," she said. "But I'm buying for the long haul. Over the long haul, stocks have appreciated."

Zolik said he sold many technology stocks during the summer because he prefers stocks with a history of profits.

His advice for young people, especially those in his classes, is to learn the fundamental tools for evaluating companies and stocks, and to use that knowledge to invest in one stock or bond at a time -- not to get caught up in fluctuations or fads.

"You just ride this out," he said.

Rannenberg agreed: Worrying doesn't make the stock market climb back any faster.

"Usually, when I sit at my desk, I have CNBC on in the background," she said. "But half the time, I don't even know what it says."

(c) 2001 Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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