"Contrary to popular opinion, panicked sell-offs are one of the most reliable indicators of bull - not bear - markets," proclaims Personal Finance (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22134)."Iraq's invasion of Kuwait marked the ninth time since World War II that a shocking event has caused stock prices to drop 10 percent or more. In all but one of the past eight cases, a major bull market followed. Not once did a crisis lead to a long-lasting bear market."
- Equity Strategies was the best-performing general stock fund of 1990, rising 22.5 percent in the face of the general market's 5 percent decline. E.S.' winning season was its third straight. It rose 37.1 percent in 1988 and 20.4 percent in 1989. The fund achieved these results by operating in a completely different way from most funds - taking active roles in the restructurings of a handful of individual companies. Equity Strategies' recent favorite resuscitation projects: Nabors Industries, KCP Holding, National Loan Bank (Texas), First Pennsylvania, Capital Southwest, Penn Central, Liberty Homes, Deltona.- The big biotech stocks did very well last year. But the smaller companies still sell at only 10 percent to 35 percent of their 1987 highs. "This means they can go up five times and still sell for less than they did then, despite the fact that most of them have made significant progress in the last three years," says Medical Technology Stock Letter (P.O. Box 40460, Berkeley, CA 94704). Med Tech's favorite junior biotechs: Enzon, Synbiotics, Syntro, T-Cell Sciences, Vestar.
- Leverage was the earnings growth tool of the 1980s. But with banks tightening their lending standards, self-financing companies have grown more attractive. Among the 65 fastest-growing public companies in the United States, says Financial World magazine, are 12 with no debt whatsoever: Baldwin & Lyons, Bridgford Foods, Capitol Transamerica, Esquire Radio & Electronics, Hanover Insurance, Insituform East, Nature's Sunshine Products, Re Capital, St. Jude Medical, Swift Energy, Telecredit and Twin Disc.
- The recent steep rise in
COMEX warehouse bullion stocks of silver is misleading, observes Value Forecaster (P.O. Box 50, Pilot Hill, CA 95664). "That's because COMEX warehouses hold only 40 percent of all visible silver supplies worldwide. According to both Shearson Lehman Hutton and Handy & Harriman figures, worldwide supplies are actually flat, not sharply up as COMEX data alone would indicate. When the true supply situation becomes clear, demand for silver could surge."
- Junk bonds are alleged to compensate for their risk with high total returns. But according to a recent study by NYU's Stern School of Business, low-grade (rated single-B by Standard & Poor's) bonds actually underperformed investment grade (BBB or better) securities during the decade of the '80s. This was largely due to the one terrible year they had, 1989.
- Many investors like to own the stocks the big institutions own. But that can be dangerous when the market heads south. According to figures compiled by Growth Stock Outlook (P.O. Box 15381, Chevy Chase, MD 20815), in the big market decline from Aug. 25, 1987, to Oct. 19, 1987, stocks with less than 20 percent institutional ownership declined 21 percent, while those with more than 60 percent institutional ownership declined a much more painful 28 percent.
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.