A digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers

One positive that stock-market bears are overlooking, says Lawrence Veit of Brown Bros. Harriman, is the improving U.S. balance of trade. "Between 1987 and 1989, the current accounts deficit was cut about one-third, to $110 billion. In 1990 I expect further reductions, to $86 billion. When I look at some European portfolios that have only 5 percent of their global assets in U.S. equities, I think they're making a very dangerous negative bet."- SoGen International Fund is one of only three funds on the current Forbes Honor Roll with an A-plus record in bear markets. SoGen had no down years in the '80s, during which it appreciated an average 20 percent annually. Currently, SoGen has reduced its stock positions to 30 percent U.S. equities and 15 percent foreign equities, all defensive stocks it feels "very comfortable with." Among them: Bank for International Settlements, Hancock Fabrics, Greif Bros., Deere, Newmont Mining, Raychem, Wal-Mart, Xerox.

- Stories about the oversaturation of Nintendo have punished the interactive video stocks lately. Prescott, Ball & Turben believes this has produced a buying opportunity based on several positive factors: 1) record 1990 shipments, 2) extensive room for cartridge growth, 3) favorable demographics, 4) several exciting new titles in the pipeline. Prescott believes interactive video stocks, especially those with big Nintendo stakes, should recover soon. Its favorites: Software Toolworks, Sierra On-Line, Acclaim Entertainment, Electronic Arts.

- The stock market's quest for certainty has caused investors to drive stocks with uncertain earnings outlooks "down to prices suggesting they're going out of business," says David Katz of Matrix Asset Advisors. Katz recently recommended a dozen long-term bargains he feels have been unduly punished for recent earnings disappointments: Aydin, Brunswick, Dynatech, First Virginia Banks, Ford, Guilford Mills, Handleman, Hasbro, Kentucky Central Life, Loews, Quick & Reilly, VF Corp.

- "Of the major gold markets, only North America offers conditions which are generally stable and favorable for mine development," observes Gold Mines Report (One Financial Place, 25 Adelaide St. East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1Y2 Canada). "North American shares are the most expensive but tend to retain their premium in good and bad gold markets. In the senior mine category we recommend American Barrick, Bond Gold, Cambior, Corona and Pegasus. In the junior sector we like ABM Gold, Granges and Golden Knight, with Viceroy Resources an attractive developing mine."

- The softening real estate market has made so-called leper properties "incredible bargains," says Real Estate Investor's Monthly (342 Bryan Drive, Danville, Calif. 94526). "These are properties with problems so serious they've caused virtually everyone to walk away from them. There's a whole list of such troubles: bad foundations, asbestos, an unclear title. If you look at these properties selectively, you can often correct the problem and resell at substantial profit."

- According to options expert Emil Akar of Charles, Akar & Associates, the climate for buy-writing in this volatile stock market atmosphere is perfect.

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.