Bullish on Consumer Brands

Lazetta Rainey Braxton favors companies in health, automotive, and footwear

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, CEO of Financial Fountains L.L.C.

Financial adviser Lazetta Rainey Braxton prefers companies whose products improve one’s quality of life—whether it’s one’s travel plans or health—as well as potentially bolster investment portfolios. Braxton is a registered investment adviser and founder and CEO of Financial Fountains L.L.C., a fee-only financial planning firm in Chicago. FF offers educational seminars in addition to investment management and financial planning consultations. Before opening her business in 2008, Braxton spent 12 years in accounting and financial services; she served as a vice president at Diversified Trust and a financial analyst at Wachovia. She also worked for Brown Capital Management.

Braxton, who has an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University, says FF primarily uses no-load (no commission or sales charge) mutual funds and exchange-traded funds as low-cost, tax-efficient ways to create diversified portfolios.

Braxton believes that the U.S. economy will continue to grow slowly as the lingering housing crisis and the looming student loan debt bubble dampen consumer spending and check small business owners’ access to credit. “Many companies maintain market positions by keeping hiring and other costs down. These factors contribute to reduced job opportunities and capital investment, lowering the tax base and crimping the ability to meet federal and state liabilities,” she says. The global impact also remains uncertain in the eurozone, where the European housing crisis continues. And despite the severity of the global credit crisis, an appetite for risky credit structures has begun to re-emerge, she adds. Braxton talked to Black Enterprise about three of her top stock picks.

ABBOTT LABORATORIES (ABT) The $38 billion healthcare giant is an innovator. This spring, Abbott announced its intention to split into two companies. The research-based pharmaceuticals business, led by the widely used AIDS drug Kaletra and the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, will be called AbbVie. The company’s diversified medical product operations will continue selling generic drugs, heart stents, and other products under the name Abbott. By year’s end, shareholders could win big. Braxton says the new entities have projected revenues of $22 billion for Abbott and $18 billion for AbbVie. “The separated companies may attract more investors who appreciate the intrinsic value of each distinctive business model,” she says. Braxton also commends Abbott’s focus on widening gross margins through efficiency efforts and

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