In its annual forecast issue last year, United & Babson Investment Report foresaw a 3,000 high for the Dow. It missed by exactly one-quarter point, as the Dow peaked at 2,999.75 on both July 16 and 17.
This year, United & Babson is equally bullish, despite the economic and political uncertainties prevalent around the globe."Periods of economic malaise don't last forever, and it should be remembered that the stock market normally looks ahead six months or so. In addition, history shows that stocks usually rebound fairly quickly from the impact of any hostilities."
United & Babson believes that most of the economy's weakness will occur during 1991's first half, and that recovery will be under way by summer. It expects Dow earnings to rise a modest 4 percent to 5 percent, to $235, despite early sluggishness.
"Based on this estimate, the Dow is currently selling at only 11 times 1991 earnings. Since the long-term average price-earnings ratio for the Dow is 14, it is clear that the general market is underpriced. A rise to 3,000 on the Dow in the latter half of the year is a reasonable prospect."
Which specific stocks does U&B expect to benefit most from this anticipated rebound? In its 1991 forecast, it named "A Dozen Promising Stocks - for Next Year and Beyond."
AIR PRODUCTS AND CHEMICALS, says U&B, "is benefiting from flat-out production at customer plants and limited supplies of industrial gas."
ALBERTSON'S, the nation's sixth-largest retail grocery chain, is "a recession-resistant company that should outperform its industry over the next several years with its aggressive store-opening policy."
AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING, says U&B, has "low debt, dominant market share and a historically low P.E. ratio."
H&R BLOCK should continue to achieve 15 percent earnings growth and 24 percent return on equity, U&B believes, "as taxpayers rely on it to explain tax-law changes."
BRISTOL-MYERS-SQUIBB, "with over 3,000 scientists and researchers, should stay in the forefront of developing breakthrough therapies."
CONAGRA, the nation's second-largest food processor, will boost earnings 15 percent annually for the next few years, predicts U&B.
E-SYSTEMS, with its wide array of reconnaissance- and surveillance-related defense systems, should thrive no matter how the Mideast situation turns out, U&B predicts.
JOSTENS "has used its profitable class-ring and yearbook business to branch out into the highly lucrative computer-based instruction area."
PHILLIPS PETROLEUM "is not dependent on the Mideast for its oil and is a major producer of natural gas."
RAYTHEON isn't just a play on rising defense electronics spending, U&B insists, but on "oil exploration activity and dirty-air and hazardous-waste cleanups as well."
WALGREEN, the country's largest drugstore chain, impresses U&B as "the leader in a recession-resistant industry."
WESTINGHOUSE, finally, is experiencing "strong growth in its power generating, environmental services and defense areas, yet sells for only eight times projected earnings."
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.