A digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers
"Since World War II, bull markets have never ended when money supply growth was inching up from moderate levels - exactly what it's doing today," notes Personal Finance (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, Va. 22314). "Of the last 11 market tops, only two occurred when money supply was growing slower than it is today. After the money supply starts to grow faster, it has usually taken about 16 months for stocks to peak."- Arch Spencer, manager of IDS New Dimension Fund, practices an interesting three-tiered approach to stock selection, balancing big-growth stocks with significant levels of cash and foreign equities. This aggressive hedging has allowed New Dimension to appreciate 18.3 percent annually in the three years Spencer has run it. Current domestic favorites: Wal-Mart, Liz Claiborne, MCI, American International Group, General Re, Atlantic Richfield, Mobil, Surgical Care Affiliates, U.S. Surgical.
- "It is widely believed that demand for natural gas will increase sharply and that prices will move up due to slower growth in reserve additions and delivery capability - all at a time when another energy crisis is a possibility. This makes natural gas stocks a `natural,"' says North of the Border (2189 Route 9, Suite 12, Howell, N.J. 07731). North of the Border, which specializes in Canadian equities, recently named its favorite undervalued Canadian natural gas stocks: Alberta Energy, Majestic Contractors, Renaissance Energy, Saskoil, Trans Canada Pipelines.
- "There are so many seedy companies on the American Stock Exchange that the good ones can easily be overlooked," observe Forbes' Gilbert Steedly and Warren Migitt. This intrepid duo recently went looking for the real AMEX bargains. Their criteria: return on equity above 10 percent, debt to equity below 80 percent and price-earnings ratios below 17-to-1. Twenty candidates emerged, seven with single-digit P.E.s: Caesars New Jersey, Citizens First Bancorp, Duplex Products, First Empire State, John Fluke Manufacturing, Peoples Bancorp N.C., J.M. Peters.
- Many municipal bond investors are doing their own buying to avoid high fund fees. But according to John Sebastian of Clayton Brown in Chicago, selling a bond before it matures can sharply reduce such savings. "Transaction expenses related to reselling a $5,000 bond before maturity can run as high as 5 percent of the face value. If you decide to go it alone, be prepared to love your bonds for a long time."
- "In retirement investments, quality is paramount," observes United Mutual Fund Selector (101 Prescott St., Wellesley Hills, Mass. 02181). "They must provide a blend of income (to live on) and growth potential (to offset inflation)." U.M.F.S. recently constructed a model mutual fund portfolio for retirees, consisting of 15 percent cash, 51 percent equity income funds (growth) and 34 percent fixed-income funds (income). The equity income funds: Decatur I Series, Evergreen Total Return, Fidelity Puritan, T. Rowe Price Equity Income. The fixed-income funds: 20th Century U.S. Government, Vanguard Fixed Income U.S. Government, Vanguard Wellesley Income.
- The American Association of Individual Investors has done a study of stock market anomalies and found that the two technical anomalies that have produced the highest abnormal rates of return are: relative strength (stocks with prices rising faster than the market) and relative price (stocks selling near their two-to-five-year highs).
Investor's Notebook reflects the opinions of professionals. It does not endorse specific investments, and no endorsement is implied or should be inferred. For more information, contact the individual firms cited.