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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shares of Walt Disney stock put shareholders in happy place

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Stock in Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) has rewarded shareholders with a 16 percent average annual return over the past 30 years, and the company, big as it is, is actually picking up steam, averaging 26 percent gains over the past five years.

Disney is a major player in broadcasting (with ABC and ESPN), in movies and in resorts. Profits from its resorts rose by 20 percent from 2013 to 2014. A massive new park is opening in Shanghai in 2016, which is expected to get more traffic than the company’s flagship Magic Kingdom in Florida.

Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm are now part of Disney’s movie business, which has produced many massive blockbusters, such as “Frozen” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Expected in 2015 are Marvel titles “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man,” Pixar films “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur,” and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.” Disney’s hits become lucrative franchises, with sequels, consumer merchandise, theme park attractions and more.

Disney’s dividend yield of close to 1.1 percent isn’t a lot, but its payout has more than tripled since 2009 and has more room to grow. With its P/E ratio recently near 24, Disney stock isn’t a screaming bargain, but it’s likely to reward long-term investors to infinity and beyond. Buy some shares now or add it to your watch list. (The Motley Fool owns and has recommended Disney.)

Ask the Fool

Q: What’s a tax inversion? – G.F., Forsyth, Illinois

A: A tax inversion happens when a company becomes a subsidiary of another company in another country, in order to take advantage of more favorable tax rules in that country. Many American companies have done this in recent years, and the Obama administration has taken steps to reduce its appeal as an option.

One of the biggest examples is the recent $50 billion acquisition of health care company Covidien by medical device giant Medtronic. Medtronic was originally based in Minnesota, but it’s now calling Covidien’s home base of Ireland its home, and enjoying Ireland’s lower corporate tax rates. Similarly, Florida-based Burger King bought Canada’s Tim Hortons, lowering its overall tax burden.

Q: Which women lead S&P 500 companies? – K.J., Bellevue, Nebraska

A: Women recently headed only 23 of the 500 companies in the S&P 500 – not quite even 5 percent.

Here are the 23: General Motors (Mary Barra), Mylan (Heather Bresch), Xerox (Ursula Burns), Ventas (Debra Cafaro), Reynolds American (Susan Cameron), Oracle (Safra Catz, co-CEO), Duke Energy (Lynn Good), Lockheed Martin (Marillyn Hewson), DuPont (Ellen Kullman), HCP (Lauralee Martin), Gannett (Gracia Martore), Yahoo! (Marissa Mayer), Avon (Sheri McCoy), TJX (Carol Meyrowitz), KeyCorp (Beth Mooney), Campbell Soup (Denise Morrison), PepsiCo (Indra Nooyi), General Dynamics (Phebe Novakovic), Sempra Energy (Debra Reed), Ross Stores (Barbara Rentler), IBM (Virginia Rometty), Mondelez International (Irene Rosenfeld) and Hewlett-Packard (Meg Whitman).

The small showing is a shame not only because women make up about half the population, but also because women leaders perform well. A recent study found that the 80 Fortune 1000 companies led by women between 2002 and 2014 produced equity gains of more than three times that of the S&P 500.

My dumbest investment

I’m a rookie investor, and so far my dumbest investment has been in a biotechnology stock that crashed by 40 percent over the past year. I’ve learned never to rely solely on an online discussion board or article comments for my info. Always check out the company, Google the heck out of it, research, research, research, and don’t fall for someone’s story about how much money he has already made on it, or why it will skyrocket.

When seeking investments, we tend to be overly positive and naive, seeing good things but ignoring warning signs. If you do not view what others say with a skeptical eye, you are likely to be suckered into a bad investment. My bad investment was a good learning experience. Luckily, I didn’t invest in it heavily and didn’t lose too much. – B.K., Reno, Nevada

The Fool responds: Amen. Many online commentators aren’t trying to sucker you but are just naive themselves. And smart and knowledgeable commentators can err sometimes, too. Every investor makes blunders. Do your own research and make your own decisions, so your blunders are really yours.

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